Tuesday, August 13, 2013

In Spain We Trust...Welcome To The World Of Sangria

It was 1964, at the worlds fair in New York when Sangria made its first real appearance here in USA, however it had been around for hundreds and hundreds of years in Europe. From it's humble origins in Spain, Sangria is now a widely popular drink served across the globe and enjoyed by many! Here in the states it is more of a summer time drink and there are now hundreds of different recipes for people to enjoy.

Early Romans who went through Spain planted what became a thriving wine industry and over time the local people took to making a punch like drink which became known as Sangria. Infusing flavors into wine is nothing new and has been around since man learned to drink!! You will recall that in most fairy tales and in history, people would often drink wine for almost every meal. Even in the old west gun slingers would enter the saloon and grab a whiskey from the bartender. Reality is closely related to fantasy and fiction in these cases for the simplest of reasons. Water was very unhealthy in those days and nobody was able to grab a Coke or Pepsi. Popular athletes were not around with an ice cold Gatorade and the Kool-Aid man was not breaking down walls with a yell and a smile. Wine was one of the more popular drinks of choice for almost everyone because it was a safe alternative to the polluted water and it came in many different flavors and varieties. It was a great base for producing simple drinks at the time and with the climate and fruits available to the people of Spain...Sangria quickly found it's place in the pages of culinary history!

Traditionally Sangria is made from red wine and the original base included a mixture of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc and Merlot grapes. Sangria Blanco is made using white wine and in the Cava region of Spain, mostly Catalonia, they make a Sangria using a sparkling white wine. If you are traveling in the southern areas of Spain you can find Zurra, a Sangria made using peaches or nectarines. The recipe for Sangria is quite simple and includes the red (or white ) wine base, brandy, fruit and in some occasions seltzer water. The drink is chilled along with some ice before serving. When choosing your base, I recommend using a nice Spanish red, such as Rioja based wine.

Go ahead and have some fun creating these fantastic recipes yourself or take some time to experiment and come up with your own unique variations. Have a Sangria recipe you want to share, please feel free to post a comment or email me directly!! Take some time to visit the Facebook page for Kitchen Time where you can see fantastic recipes for Sangria and other goodies...like the Rum & Sugar Glazed Chicken!!

~ White Wine Sangria ~

2 Bottles of White Wine, Pinot Grigio or a mixed white wine such as Evolution will work well
4 Oranges, sliced into 6-8 small wedges
2 Lemons, sliced into 6-8 small wedges
1 Lime, sliced into 6-8 small wedges
1 Cup Strawberries, sliced into quarters
4 Ounces Cointreau
2 Ounces Orange Juice

Pour the wine into a pitcher. Take the lemon, lime, orange and squeeze them gently. Try to avoid seeds falling into the wine. Afterwards add the wedges into the wine as well. Add in the strawberries, Cointreau and orange juice. Give the entire mixture a few small stirs and then place in the refrigerator to chill. Serve over ice and enjoy.

~ Peach & Strawberry Sangria ~

2 Bottles of White Wine, use a dry white such as a Pinot Gris would work well here
3 Cups Grand Marnier
1 Cup Peach Liqueur
1 Orange, cut into 6-8 small wedges
4 Cups Sliced Peaches
4 Cups Strawberries, quartered
2-3 Tbs Sugar

Start by taking the quartered strawberries and tossing them with a the sugar. Set the bowl aside and allow the juices to come out of the berries, this creates a nice flavor addition to the wine. Allow them to sit for about an hour. While that is happening, add the wine into a pitcher, squeeze the oranges into the wine, carefully avoiding the seeds. Drop the wedges into the pitcher when finished. Add in the peaches, Grand Marnier, Peach Liqueur and finally the strawberries. Stir it gently a few times and the chill. Server over ice and enjoy.

Earlier I had mentioned that Sangria is one of those beverages which is truly only as limited as your imagination. This next recipe I had borrowed a few years back from somewhere and I wish that I could remember exactly where. It is a true summer beverage which will help make some lasting memories as well as having people talking for years to come. It has changed from the original and I have put my own spin on it. I hope you will do the same with this and any of the other recipes you see here or over on Facebook!!

~ Lemon Sangria ~

2 Bottles of Sparkling Wine, make sure they are on the dryer side on not overly sweet
1 Cup Limoncello, lemon flavored liqueur
1 Cup Fresh Blackberries
1 Cup Fresh Raspberries
2 Cups Strawberries, quartered
1 Lemon, sliced into 6-8 small wedges
1/2 Cup Lemonade Concentrate, frozen and try using the pink variety

Chill both bottles of the sparking wine. In a pitcher combine all the other ingredients and allow to chill. When you are ready to serve, pour the sparkling wine into the pitcher and top with ice. Serve right away and enjoy.

~ Super Fruit Sangria ~
2 Bottles Red Wine, Shiraz seems to work for this recipe or stick with the classic Rioja
3 Cups Chambord, raspberry liqueur
2 Cups Frozen Berries, strawberries & blueberries work well here
1/4 Cup Mulberries, dried
1/4 Cup Golden Berries, dried and finely chopped
2 Tbs Goji Berries, dried
1 1/4 Cup Pomegranate Juice

Pour the wine into a pitcher and follow that with the fruit, Chambord and pomegranate juice. Serve it chilled or pour over ice. For this particular Sangria, I advise people to all it the chance to settle overnight. This allows the flavors to really come out.

As I was getting ready to wrap up this post about Sangria fun, something popped into my head from a few days ago...I had someone ask me how to make Mulled Wine. I know this is not a traditional Sangria recipe, but the weather is beginning to change and fall is just around the corner. I figured why not break this recipe out a little early. I have only experienced Mulled Wine a few times in my life and each one has tasted different. The one which comes to mind as being the most memorable was from my time in NYC as a manager. Some friends and I were walking around on a beautiful fall evening when we came across this great English pub. We spent the next few hours with our feet up, talking to the owner and enjoying ourselves. As we were leaving, the owner asked us to share a glass of his mulled wine as a way to chase away the chilly night. We happily agreed and I was treated to warm mug of cinnamon and orange goodness, hints of apple along with a touch of clove and the lush flavors of a beautiful Cabernet. In all the years since I have never been able to quite match the flavors of that night. I keep trying though!! Here is the base recipe that I have used while trying to capture that night all over again. Each time I approach this undertaking I add a little something here...take away a little over there. Maybe this fall I should just host a Mulled Wine Tasting and see how it goes!!

~ Mulled Wine ~

1 Bottle Red Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon
4 Cups Apple Cider
1/2 Cup Honey
1 Cup Apple Brandy
3-4 Cinnamon Sticks
3 Whole Cloves
2 Star Anise
2 Oranges, peeled with fruit set-aside

Begin by peeling the oranges and setting the fruit aside. For this recipe, only the peels are needed. It is optional if you want to add the fruit into the wine. Combine in a saucepan all the ingredients including the orange peels (and fruit if you want). Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a very low heat. Allow the wine to simmer for about 10 minutes. Strain the wine through a sieve and allow to cool so that the wine is just warm...not hot like tea or coffee. Enjoy on a nice cool evening by a fire with friends and family.

Writing for me is a very organic process and usually it comes from a spur of the moment choice...at times my best laid out plans get pushed off-course by an email or a simple question at one of the many markets I have been visiting. As I write, it allows me to reflect on where I have come from and where I am going. One of the biggest things writing does for me is that it allows me to remember my grandmother who is one of the biggest influences on who I am. When thinking back on my years, not that it has been an overly long period of time, memories come back to me about my grandmother and of all the things she taught me. In particular was a piece of advice she gave me while I lived in NYC.

"It isn't the destination that matters Sean. It's the journey you take to get their."

She had a way about her that made me believe in the things she said and not a day goes by where I don't wish that I had just one more chance to talk with her. I would share not just this journey, but everything about my world that she would have loved. I know that my book is going to take a longer journey than I first planned and when it is finished the plan is to dedicate it to everyone who has shared this time with me. It will also have a special thank you & dedication to a woman who truly helped shape me into who I am today!

Have a fantastic day everyone!!

-Chef Sean



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