Summer is about to show its pretty little face. Here in Los Angeles we are drowning in sunshine. May Gray and June Gloom showed up in April this year. Sunny skies and the happy faces around me put me in the mood to pull out my favorite recipe for sangria. I don’t do that unless I have a serious summer bee in my bonnet.
My recipe for sangria is not really mine. I adapted it from Susan Spungen several summers ago. It’s hardly traditional. Purists might even prefer to call this a summer punch. But the word sangria is so associated with summer that the bee in my bonnet refuses to call this libation anything but sangria. I think this version is perfect for simple summer entertaining precisely because it’s so simple. It’s also light, refreshing and made with quality ingredients. I’ve seen many a recipe for sangria that call for any old wine boldly spiked with cheap brandy– evoking memories of Boone’s Farm. I like the this recipe for sangria because it features rosé wine and is fortified with the lighter touch of elderflower liqueur. Which adds a luxurious floral whiff– perfectly suited for summer (and the bees in my bonnet).
Traditionally sangria is a red wine punch originating in the south of Spain, where it’s often called zurra. It developed as a red wine punch because the conquering Romans believed that red grape varietals produced the best wine. Thus red grapes were planted wherever they would grow in the Roman Empire. Red wine sangria (named after blood) became the accepted version. These days red wine sangria in the heat of summer too often spells headache to me. You know the headache I mean– The Hangover Headache. But sangria does not have to be sickly sweetened and stretched out with cheap wine, these are modern times and our choices are far greater.
I like this beautifully colored sangria because it’s intensely flavored with a stone-fruit purée, making it well-suited for sunny summers in Los Angeles. It doesn’t really matter what kind of stone-fruit you choose. So pick the ripest, most fragrant stone-fruit you can find. If peaches aren’t looking so great yet choose super seasonal apricots or plums instead. Cherries are stone fruit too. This recipe for sangria is adorned with plenty of them. I recommend that you chill the sangria a good long time before serving; the flavor will improve the longer it sits. GREG