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In Praise of the Red, White and Blue

June 29, 2011 By:
Eileen Goltz
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SLICE OF LIFE

Every year for the past 10 years, our friends have come to our house for a 4th of July barbecue and fireworks. I do the grilling, they bring the fixings, and we chow down on ribs and chicken and all pitch in a couple of million dollars and buy fireworks.

We're a friendly bunch so once it gets dark, all the rest of the neighbors (we average about 20 or 30 every year) and a few other friends come over for dessert and liquid libations suitable for all ages (and some just for adults).

Every year, the show gets bigger, more extravagant, longer and buggier, but we wouldn't have it any other way.

Since it's usually really, really, really hot -- even when the sun goes down -- one of my most-requested 4th of July treats is sangria. I make two kinds, one for the over-21 crowd and one for the junior set, and every year I try a new recipe just for fun.

Sangria is the quintessential red-wine punch, said to have been "born" in Spain and popularized here at the 1964 World's Fair. It's supposed to consist of red wine, brandy and fruit.

However, it can be made with a plethora of other interesting ingredients and with red or white wine as the base. There is no one "right" recipe, just a lot of really good ones. You can use strawberries, raspberries, oranges, lemons and limes -- or whatever fruit is available or that suits your taste buds.

So in the most patriotic frame of mind, I say, "Ask not why all the fireworks have to be in the sky on the 4th of July. Rather, why not ask to have a little bit of sparkle and dazzle in a pitcher and serve sangria while enjoying the rockets' red glare."

Where possible, I've added some alternative ingredients so that some of the recipes can be made non-alcoholic. Some recipes call for brandy. Since brandy is fortified wine, please make sure it has proper certification.

Simple Sangria

  • 1 750 ml. bottle of red wine 
    2 cups orange juice 
    1/2 cup brandy (make sure it has proper certification) 
    2 Tbsps. brown sugar 
    12 oz. lemon-lime soda 
    1 to 2 sliced lemons 
    1 to 2 sliced oranges 
    1 to 2 sliced limes

In a large pitcher, combine all the ingredients. Mix to combine. Serve over ice in tall glasses.

Serves 6 to 8.

Nectarine Sangria

Be warned, this is a very potent concoction! A little goes a long way.
  • 1 750ml bottle Chianti or Shiraz red wine 
    1 to 2 cups brandy (make sure it has proper certification) 
    1 bottle (2 liter) lemon-lime soda 
    3 nectarines, chopped 
    1 cup cantaloupe, cut into bite-sized pieces 
    2 oranges, sliced 
    1 lemon, sliced

Combine all the fruit in the bottom of a large stock pot. Add the red wine and brandy and top it off with the lemon-lime soda. Mix to combine. Fill a pitcher with ice, and ladle the punch and fruit into the pitcher. Refill as necessary.

Serves 8 to 10.

Mango and Orange Sangria

(Alcoholic or Nonalcoholic)
  • 2 mangoes, peeled and cut into small chunks 
    2 oranges, sliced 
    2 lemons, sliced 
    2 small limes, sliced 
    2 750 ml bottles of a semi-dry red or white wine or sparkling grape juice 
    6 to 7 cups lemonade 
    1/4 to 1/3 cup white rum (it can be omitted) 
    1/4 to 1/3 cup orange liqueur (or frozen orange juice concentrate) 
    sugar to taste

In a large pot, combine the mango, orange, lemon and lime. Mix in the wine, lemonade, rum and orange liqueur. Add sugar to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours to let the fruit marinate. Ladle the sangria into an ice filled pitcher and serve.

Serves 12.

Watermelon Sangria

(Alcoholic or Nonalcoholic)
  • 2/3 of a small, seedless watermelon, peeled and cubed 
    2 bottles dry white wine (or sparkling grape or apple juice) 
    1/2 cup vodka (it can be omitted) 
    6 to 8 oz. orange liqueur (or frozen orange juice concentrate) 
    1 cup water 
    1/4 cup sugar 
    zest of one lime 
    ice 
    watermelon balls for garnish

In a pan, boil the water, lime zest and sugar together. Let cool.

In a blender, puree the watermelon. Pour the puree through a strainer into a pitcher.

Add the white wine, vodka, orange liqueur and lime sugar water. Stir and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Stir and pour the sangria into an ice-filled pitcher. Add the watermelon balls and serve.

Serves 10 to 12.

Cheaters Sangria

(Alcoholic or Nonalcoholic)

This is one of my all time favorite sangria recipes.

  • 1 bottle red wine (or sparkling grape juice or apple juice) 
    1/4 cup rum (this can be omitted) 
    1 thinly sliced lemon 
    1 thinly sliced orange 
    1 thinly sliced lime 
    1 pint thinly sliced strawberries 
    1 thinly sliced apple 
    10 whole cloves 
    2 cups chilled freshly squeezed orange juice 
    1 liter chilled lemon-lime soda

Mix together the wine, rum, fruit and cloves in a large container. Tightly seal and refrigerate for 4 to 12 hours.

Before serving, add the orange juice and soda. Serve in glasses or in a large pitcher.

Serves 6 to 8.

Eileen Goltz is a freelance food writer and the author of Perfectly Pareve. Email her at: [email protected]. Her blog address is: Cuisinebyeileen.wordpress.com.

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