Sparkling White Sangria
Some of my fondest memories are of meals I’ve had on vacation, when everything — the weather, the place, the company, the food — comes together to make for a magical time. Last year, Michael and I had a dinner like this at Columbia, a Spanish style restaurant on St. Armand’s Circle in Lido Key, FL. It was a nice warm night, so we sat at a tiny table on the sidewalk patio in bistro chairs and shared a garlicky house salad with baked ham and grated Romano cheese, red snapper in a rich brown wine sauce topped with fried shrimp and Spanish almonds, and a pitcher of Sparkling White Sangria, which I loved and vowed to share on my blog as soon as the weather got warm.
Sangria is a fruit-based wine punch typical of Spain and Portugal. There are many variations but it usually consists of wine, chopped or sliced fruit, a sweetener (such as honey, sugar, simple syrup, or fruit juice) and a small amount of brandy and orange liqueur. In the States, lemon-lime soda or seltzer is often added.
This version is adapted from Columbia Restaurant’s recipe. You can play around with it as much as you like. For a stronger drink, go easy on the soda. As for the fruit, I love oranges, nectarines and apples but peaches, melons, and berries would also work well.
Instead of adding ice cubes to the pitcher, I like to chill the sangria with frozen grapes. They look beautiful and don’t water the drink down. I do, however, add ice cubes to the individual glasses. You guzzle it down so quickly, the ice cubes barely have a chance to melt.
Hope you enjoy this drink as much as we did…Cheers!
Sparkling White Sangria
Inspired by Columbia Restaurant in Lido Key, FL
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) brandy
1 ounce (2 tabelspoons) orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier
1/3 cup superfine sugar*
1 orange, halved
2 limes (one for garnish)
1 small apple, such as Fuji, peeled and chopped
1 nectarine, chopped
1 bottle chilled sparkling wine, such as Cava, Prosecco or Champagne
1 cup lemon-lime soda, such as Sprite
A few bunches frozen grapes
In a large pitcher, combine the brandy, orange liqueur and sugar. Squeeze juice from one lime and one orange half into the pitcher. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Slice the remaining orange half into thin slices and add to pitcher, then add chopped apples and nectarines. Add the sparkling wine, lemon-lime soda and a large bunch of frozen grapes. Place ice cubes in glasses (do not put them in the pitcher or they’ll water the drink down) along with small bunches of frozen grapes and pour sangria over top. Spoon chopped fruit into glasses, garnish with lime slices if desired and serve.
*Superfine sugar dissolves much faster than regular sugar. It is available at most supermarkets. This recipe makes a fairly sweet sangria; if you prefer it dry, use less sugar.