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History: Originating in Spain, sangria is a cold drink that can consist of either red or white wine and many variations of fruits, liqueurs, mixers, and garnishes. Etymology of the word sangria comes from the Spanish word sangre, literally meaning “blood” or “bleeding,” and is named so for its deep red color.
Traditionally, sangria is a fruity red wine punch that uses common red wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot to give it its recognizable blood-red coloring.
However, sangria also has a white wine equivalent, Sangria Blanca, which incorporates slightly different ingredients that complement the subtle aromas and flavors of the white wine. Dry white wines such as Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay are commonly used in white sangrias, although it is entirely encouraged to adventure with wines such as Riesling or Chablis for a different flavor.
Although food historians believe that sangria was introduced to the United States sometime in the 1800s, the first official accounts of the introduction of sangria to the U.S. is during the 1964 New York World’s Fair where it was served to visitors who attended the event. Since then, variations of red and white sangria have been served throughout American bars and restaurants, and have continued to be a widely popular drink in the U.S. amongst young adults and connoisseurs alike.
As mentioned previously, sangria is typically served as a cold drink and is an ideal choice for relaxing on a spring or summer day. However, mulled wine is sometimes used as a hot drink variation and can incorporate spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and raisins for sangria that can be enjoyed during the fall and winter seasons.
In Spain, Tinto de Verano is regularly served in restaurants and supermarkets and is a simpler variation of sangria, literally translating into “red wine of the summer” and consists of red wine and carbonated lemonade, or gaseosa. Rum can also be added to this variation and would be served over ice with lemon.
Additionally, popular among the younger population in Spain, a drink called Calimocho mixes alcohol and caffeine by serving red wine and Coca-Cola for a cheaper alternative to sangria. Rebujito uses white wine and sherry mixed with a lemon-lime soda for a white wine alternative to this sangria variation.
Lastly, a non-alcoholic version of sangria can be made with carbonated soda, fruit juices and all the same fruits that you can use in classic sangria recipes for people who would rather enjoy a non-alcoholic alternative to the Spanish sangria.
Recipe: Fruity Serrano White Sangria Spritzer
I was inspired by a recipe I found on treehugger.com for a Serrano Raspberry Sangria, but I decided to put my own twist on the recipe to accommodate my palate’s personal preferences. After adding a few ingredients here and removing a few ingredients there, I was able to successfully create my own Fruity Serrano White Sangria Spritzer.
For this recipe in particular, the title says it all: this recipe incorporates fruit such as apples, strawberries, raspberries, limes and grapes, and with the addition of the Serrano pepper, this sangria recipe entertains both those who enjoy a sweet alcoholic beverage in addition to those that like to incorporate a little spice in their life!
To my surprise, while researching many sangria recipes I noticed that there are a lot out-of-the-ordinary ingredients used to provide a spin on the typical wine and fruit sangrias we are currently used to. Ingredients such as ginger, jalapeños, arugula, and radishes frequent many sangria recipes and provide a sassy spin on the traditional combinations of flavors. Usually when I tell people that I incorporate the Serrano pepper into this recipe, I get many eyebrows raised and plenty of apprehension in regards to exactly how spicy this particular sangria is.
According to the Scoville Chilli Heat Chart which measures the pungency, or spicy heat, of chili peppers, the Serrano peppers heat level falls around the 5,000-15,000 range, depending on which variation of the heat chart you view. To put that information into perspective, the Scoville Chilli Heat Chart ranges from 0-99 for sweet bell or banana peppers, to a whopping 2,000,000 for the Ghost pepper.
As you can see, the Serrano pepper has a mid-range heat rating and really adds to this recipe in both spice and flavor. Surprisingly, the Serrano pepper gives this white sangria spritzer a cool, cucumber-esque earthy-green flavor, and it really complements the fruit and white wine flavors of this recipe as well.
Between the granny smith apples, limes and Serrano peppers, you encounter flavors that provide your palate with tang, sour, and heat, which is exactly what I look for in an intriguing beverage. Those flavors paired with strawberries, raspberries, red apples and grapes, fruitfully balance out the other ingredients by providing sweet and sugary aspects to the drink as well.
Since there is no set recipe for sangria, it is really easy to create your own concoction when you’re aware of what ingredients work with each type you decide to make, whether it’s red or white. The image below shows which ingredients work with each type of sangria, in addition to showing which ingredients can be used for both:
Like I mentioned beforehand, recipes for sangria have many alternatives and there are a few additional variations that I can offer from my research that would take your already tasty sangria and take it up a notch:
- Before pouring your sangria in glasses to serve, you can rim the glass with cinnamon/nutmeg and sugar for a classy looking cocktail
- If you choose to let your sangria chill for 12+ hours, you can strain the fruit used to infuse the sangria and replace it with freshly cut fruit for an aesthetically pleasing presentation
- If you are on a low-sugar diet, you can substitute the sugar or honey with agave nectar since it is much lower in sugar
Fruity Serrano White Sangria Spritzer
Prep. Time: 45 minutes – 1 hour
Chill Time: 1 – 24 hours
Yield: A LOT (You can halve the recipe for a smaller yield)
NOTE: Most sangrias’ alcohol content can range anywhere from 4-13%, so it is advised to be cautious since it is so tasty and easy to drink.
- 2 – 1.5L bottles of dry white wine
- 1 – 2, 750mL bottle(s) of Extra Dry Champagne
- ¼ – ½ cup Brandy (up to 1 cup, to taste)
- ½ – 1 cup Sparkling White Grape Juice Concentrate (or white grape juice)
- ½ cup pear nectar (or alternative flavor)
- 2 apples (1 granny smith, 1 braeburn), diced
- 1 small carton of raspberries, whole
- 1 small carton of strawberries, diced
- 1 – 2 bundles of white grapes, halved
- 1 lime, sliced
- 1 – 2 Serrano pepper(s) (to taste), sliced
- 1 cup sugar (as little as ¼ – ¾ cup) (Alternative: ½ – 1 cup honey or agave (low-sugar))
- Finely dice both apples and entire carton of strawberries
- Cut lime and Serrano peppers into thick slices
- Layer apples, strawberries, raspberries, and lime into pitcher/dispenser and add sugar (or alternative sweetener) between each layer
- After fruit has been layered, add Serrano peppers and remainder of sugar
- Let sit for 10 minutes
- Add white wine and brandy, stir
- Add Sparkling White Grape Juice Concentrate, pear nectar, and champagne
- Refrigerate for 1-24 hours
- Once chilled (add ice to chill faster), pour into appropriate glass
- Optional: Garnish Fruity Serrano White Sangria Spritzer with mint leaves/sprigs
The Final Product!
After allowing the fruit to marinate in the wine, champagne and juice mixture, the red berries and brandy turn this white wine sangria a lovely peach-color. The glass used to serve your sangria should have a wide enough opening to accommodate holding a lot of fruit since you will want to eat the fruit while you drink! The glass should also have a stem so that your hand doesn’t warm up the beverage, similar to a glass you would drink wine out of. An ideal glass would have both a stem and a wide mouth, so it is common to use a glass that is often used for Brandy when serving sangria.
I would recommend smelling the sangria before you taste it, using your hand to waft the aromas toward your nose instead of taking a whiff directly from the glass. The combination of taste and smell really give you a well-rounded idea of everything you eat or drink, so I use them hand-in-hand when I taste new recipes and cocktails for the first time especially. In this case, the Serrano pepper is spicy in both flavor and scent – so be wary of ingesting them. Enjoy!