Sangria, Photo: Anna Ivanova / Alamy Stock Photo
Technically speaking, ‘sangre’ means blood in Spanish, suggesting the use of red wine. But for those of you who think that a sangria can only be made with red wines, think again. There are a whole host of things you can do to up your sangria game and have your guests cheering to you! If you think you’ve got your sangria routine down pat, I suggest you go through this list, to make sure you’re not making a rookie mistake.
All the things you’re doing wrong with your sangria
Not experimenting with colour and styles
You can actually make a sangria with any kind of wine. It could be a white wine, a Rosé or even a sparkling – though of course the red wine makes it as colourful as possible. The only thing you need to keep in mind when it comes to wines in a sangria is that they need to be fruity, less tannic and preferably not oaky. In reds, look for grapes such as Garnacha, Zinfandel, Tempranillo, Merlot or Nero D’Avola. In whites, use Pinot Grigio, Cortese (Gavi) for drier versions or even a Moscato grape for a slightly aromatic, sweet version.
Using leftover wine or cheap wine
Don’t think that making sangria is an easy way of getting rid of your leftover wine! In fact, the wine that you’re using to make a sangria should be really fresh, and of sound quality. If you’re not careful about that, you will end up with a poor-quality end product. The wine doesn’t need to be super expensive but a good quality, easy-drinking delicious wine would work just as well. It must be fresh, fruity and lower on the tannins.
Making the sangria too sweet or keeping it too dry
The best way to ensure your sangria is not too sweet and also not too dry is by using natural sweeteners that are found in fruit. You don’t need to stick with only apples or oranges for your sangria. You should feel free to experiment a little, and use pears, kiwis, pomegranate, strawberries or even cherries. The fruits will turn soft, releasing their juices into the sangria and making it really exciting! A hint of sweetness tends to edge out any rough tannic edges or astringency from the wine or fruits, making the sangria round and smooth on the palate. The added fruits lend some sweetness but you are also welcome to add some sugar for additional sweetness. Others may want a hint of a deep caramel taste in their sangria, for which you can try adding some honey instead of sugar, for depth of flavour. Create your sangria the way you would prepare your meals, by catering to your taste buds and preferences.
Adding the wrong fruits
Make sure not to use fleshy fruits like custard apple or banana in your sangria, as these will make your sangria cloudy. Instead, focus on citric fruits like strawberries, cherries, apples and pears that will add zing and texture to your sangria. All you need to do is chop your chosen fruits finely, and then leave them to soak in some wine for a few hours.
Keeping it too basic
Adding liqueurs such as Cointreau or brandy can make the sangria potent and add an extra layer of taste and excitement. So get creative with flourishes like liqueur, herbs and spices. When considering herbs, basil is a great addition to a white wine sangria, especially if it has watermelon in it. The pairing of the two is absolutely divine. Spices like cardamom, cinnamon or even fennel add warmth and depth. A few drops of lemon juice in a white wine sangria add crispness and a bit of an edge. Get creative and, most importantly, have fun – both making your sangria, and drinking it!