White Sangria – the perfect wine cocktail for spring and summer

Sangria Test with Sav Blanc

I love wine and typically I am a purist, wanting to stick my nose in a glass and breathe in the aromas of the place where the grapes were grown, the seasons they saw and the soil they came from.  But spring hits and I’m looking for something for a party that is a little less intellectual and a little more fun.  That’s where sangria comes in.  The great thing for me is, that I can still geek out, finding pairings to go with the wine for the sangria and riff on some great recipes.

We started testing some recipes for a white sangria, for a party coming up later this month.

I came across a great pin shared by Wine Enthusiast The Anatomy of Sangria which is perfect for giving you the basics to riff on! The base of sangria is wine, then you can add fruit, liquor, fruit juice, sweetener, a mixer and then garnish.  This really is a wine cocktail.

I also came across a recipe on Pinterest for a cucumber melon sangria https://www.bhg.com/recipe/cucumber-sangria/ .  So we did a play on the one recipe and created another, for testing and tasting to find a crowd-pleaser for our upcoming sangria and tapas party.

Sangria lineup

Sangria alcohol lineup

Based on the Cucumber Sangria recipe, we decided to try two styles with a sauvignon blanc as the base.  I made a simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar, on the stove, bring to a boil and cook 3 minutes until the sugar dissolves, then cool), and let it cool while we went shopping for ingredients.  The great thing about this is that you can just roam the produce section and find things that speak to you of the winen you’ve decided to use.  We picked up lemons and limes, which seemed a no-brainer with a sauvignon blanc.  Of course we picked up a cucumber and honeydew melon for the recipe we had, and then a granny smith apple, lemon grass, mint, basil, starfruit & ginger.  We had honey at home, as well as rum, triple sec and some sparkling water.

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After chopping up all the ingredients, I settled on two blends.

Cucumber melon Sangria

  • cucumber slices
  • honeydew melon
  • lime
  • fresh mint
  • sauvignon blanc
  • triple sec
  • simple syrup
  • sparkling water

So because I was just doing a test, I used 1/2 bottle of wine.  I used about a 1/4 each of the cucumber, lime and honeydew.  The lime and cucumber I halved lengthwise and then sliced thinly, since I was not going to let this soak too long.  The melon I just scooped with a spoon, but you could use a melon baller (as I probably will when I make a full batch).  I used about 1 ounce of triple sec and 1/4 cup of simple syrup.  I tossed the fruit in the carafe first, added the wine and then the triple sec and simple syrup and swished it a bit before tossing it in the fridge. The sparkling water gets added as it is served.

 

Starfruit Sangria

  • Starfruit
  • lemon
  • lime
  • granny smith apple
  • basil
  • lemon grass
  • ginger
  • honey
  • rum
  • sauvignon blanc
  • sparkling water

Again I used the remainder of the sav blanc and a quarter of the other fruits thinly sliced.  This one gets called “starfruit” because it’s the showiest fruit in the glass.  I layered the fruits in, added the basil (2 sprigs), lemon grass (1 piece cut in half) and ginger (which was peeled and sliced thinly and you only need a little, 4 or 5 small slices). I mixed the honey with the rum so the honey would incorporate into the liquid and not be globby and added it and the wine.  Another swish and into the fridge.

I let them sit for maybe 30 minutes.  Then I added a little ice to a couple of wine glasses, poured in the sangria and dug out some of the fruit from the carafe to go in the glass.  We tasted first, then added sparkling water.  The extra fizz really works nicely.  The cucumber melon was perfect, which means you can make this fresh and serve almost immediately.  The starfruit, probably needs a little more time to meld.  It was a little tart, so perhaps more honey next time?  And I think I like triple sec better than the rum in these white sangrias. I also think that I would add kiwi to this recipe in the future. I had skipped the kiwi this time, because I thought it would be too mushy, but in retrospect, it would have integrated into the wine and given it an added sweetness.  All in all, it was lovely, but when you take a sip of the cucumber melon, you know you have found a crowd-pleaser.  The melon adds a lovely sweetness, you still get this bright clean fragrance from the cucumbers and then the mint just knocks it out of the park.  So we found our white sangria.

If you look at the Wine Enthusiasts Sangria Anatomy, you will note that I did not add a juice.  I didn’t need one, I feel like I would be more likely to add juice to a red sangria, to help to cut the alcohol a bit,but really, you should do your own taste test and see what you like best.

There are so many options with Sangria, you can even leave fresh fruit and herbs out so that guests can mix their own.  Grab a wine, find the flavors in it and create your own sangria recipe.  Don’t forget to come back and share with us! I will be on to test a red recipe next!

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How to pair with Everything!

So that football game is on this weekend. You know the big one.  I usually work on Sundays (Theatre being another popular weekend event), but this Sunday is special.  The big game takes over and in Vegas that’s the only show anyone is watching, so…DAY OFF!

With this Golden Day we decided to host a Wine Party!  (Thanks for the inspiration Andrew).  The game will be on, but the party is all about the wine.  We asked that our guests each bring a bottle of wine that they like to drink.  The idea is that we can all taste different wines than we might normally and find new wines that captivate us!

Food Pairings when you don’t know what Wine you will have!

Okay…but how do you do the food?  You would need pairings for everything?!

You start with a little research.  As much as I wish wine & food pairings were second nature to me, they are not yet.  So I picked up one of my favorite books (Madeline Puckette stand by for a plug) Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine.  Yes, yes, I’m a wine geek and a Stage Manager, so I took Madeline’s pairing guides and used them to make my self a great big spreadsheet.  I grabbed a couple other sources for pairing ideas also and set myself to making a game day inspired menu.

Geeking out making wine pairing spreadsheets.

9 Styles of Wine

I broke it down to the 9 styles of wine that Madeline lists and then made sure I had at least one pairing for each.

We will have Wine Style Cards on the counter, one for each style so people can place their wine in the appropriate spot, then the table filled with food, with have labels for what style wine is most likely to pair with the food!  There will be lots of cheese, meats, veggies, fruits, crackers and condiments for pairings and then a few more composed or substantial items, to keep people full with all that wine.

Sparkling Wine

There will of course be my favorite standby, Potato chips (the fat and salt with sparkling wine are great!) but I’m going to add some bacon wrapped dates filled with goat cheese and almonds too.  The fat and salt on these will also be great with Cava, Prosecco or Champagne.

Light White Wine

This is your Sav Blanc, Pinot Gris, Vermentino type wines.  Here we will go with Chips Salsa and Guac.  These type of wines go well with sour creme, avocado and cilantro.

Full-Bodied White

Think Chard or Viognier.  Great with chicken and fresh herbs as well as garlic and onions.  I found a Cabbage and Chicken Salad recipe that should cover our base here!

Aromatic White

Riesling, Torrontes, Chenin Blanc…These lend themselves to exotic spices, and root vegetables so there will be a root vegetable, Israeli cous cous dish with some exotic spices.

Rose

Think pink!  Pink with Pink is my go to, so there will be salmon and shrimp.

Light Reds

Gamay and Pinot Noir.  These kind of cover a few bases, the exotic spices in the cous cous dish, the chicken in the salad, the bacon in the bacon wrapped dates.

Medium Reds

Barbera, Cab Franc, Grenache, Zin.  Bean, Garlic, Onions, Beef, Spices…..yeah, that pretty much screams Chili doesn’t it?

Full Bodied Reds

Syrah, Bordeaux Blends, Malbec,  These too will pair with the Chili (these add nightshades like tomato, and bell pepper to the list of things that they like to pair with)

Dessert Wines

Port, Sherry, Vin Santo, Sauternais  Here we go with Dessert and I have chocolate fountain and maple bacon cupcakes on the way to cover that.

Cheeses

To cover our cheese bases, I am using my quick list.

Chevre, Brie, Mozzerella, Havarti, Asiago, Smoked Gouda, Cheddar and a Bleu Cheese.  With those you should be covered.

So we should be covered regardless of what anyone brings!

Now I’m looking forward to tasting some new wines and then digging in on some more research.  You can look forward to hearing about all of it right here at Crushed Grape Chronicles!   You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

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