In its most basic form, sangria is traditionally composed of wine (typically red), spirits (typically brandy and orange liqueur) and fruit (a combination that may include citrus, apples or pear, and berries).
At restaurants, it's usually prepared by combining them all and allowing the fruit to macerate with the wine and spirits for a length of time before service—usually overnight. But here's the not-so-hidden secret: They're probably using opened wines by the glass they wouldn't serve the next day and spiking them with cheap brandy and triple sec. Ever wonder why sangria gives you a hangover?
Who wants to drink oxidized wine masked by mushy filler fruit floating around? Certainly not me. To that end, I've come up with three summer sangrias that use fresh (not stale) wine and fruit. Campari, Cynar and Cointreau are unusual spirits for sangria, but they're all classic aperitivi that add a refreshing bitter component to balance their sweetness. And unlike traditional sangrias, the fruit is muddled and strained, so you get the flavor without the chunks in your glass.
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There's so much fresh fruit at the market right now that these drinks practically beg to be made for a party: The Sketch of Spain (see the recipe) combines Spanish red wine and blueberries; the Basque Bellini (see the recipe) showcases the fuzzy white peaches that are just coming into season; and the Strawberry Spritz (see the recipe) uses one of summer's favorite fruits with Lambrusco, a dry sparkling red.
The recipes are easy to prepare à la the minute as your guests arrive, or you can always muddle the fruit the night before and let it macerate. Then all you'll have to do is add some wine and strain. It's time to sip and enjoy sangria season.
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