Sangria is a typical beverage from Spain and Portugal. It normally consists of wine, chopped fruit, a sweetener, and a small amount of added brandy. Chopped fruit can include orange, lemon, lime, apple, peach, melon, berries, pineapple, grape, kiwifruit and mango. A sweetener such as honey, sugar, syrup, or orange juice is added. Instead of brandy, other liquids such as Seltzer, Sprite or 7 Up may be added. Sangria is steeped while chilled for as little as minutes or up to a few days.
Sangria is named after the Spanish word for “bloodletting” because of its typical dark-red color. Because of the variation in recipes, sangria’s alcoholic content can vary greatly, usually from 4 percent up to about 11 percent. The ingredients in sangria vary, particularly in the type of fruit used, the kind of spirits added (if any), and the presence or lack of carbonation.
White wine can be used instead of red, in which case the result is called sangria blanca or, as in Argentina and Paraguay, clerico. Some recipes that use heavier reds can be lightened by mixing a bottle of white in the mix. In some parts of Southern Spain, sangria is called zurra and is made with peaches or nectarines. In most recipes, wine is the dominant ingredient and acts as a base. In some regions of Portugal, cinnamon and medronho brandy are used.
Mulled wine can be used to provide a rich full-bodied taste, chilled with orange juice, lemonade and a sliced pear to add sweetness.
Preparation consists of cutting the fruit in thin slices or small cubes, then mixing in advance all ingredients except for ice and carbonated sodas. After several hours, or a full day in a refrigerator to allow time for the fruit flavors to blend with the rest of the ingredients, the ice and any last-minute ingredients are added and the drinks are poured.
A non-alcoholic version of sangria is made from wine grapes, carbonated water, essence of lemon, and cane sugar.
Sangria doesn’t have a single recipe. It could well have been a hand-me-down grandmother’s recipe. You never make just one glass of sangria. It is always made in a pitcher or a big bowl. While there is hieroglyphic proof that the Egyptian pharaohs enjoyed a glass of wine in the 14th century, the drink earned the status of a party swig in 1964 when it first became popular in the US.
While wine became popular in India only a decade ago, sangria, in a broader sense, is a substitute for wine. While there are a handful of serious wine drinkers in Delhi, sangria plays an important role in making the grape drink well accepted. “When it comes to Indian food, we don’t have courses. We like to eat all our food together, unlike the Europeans and the French who eat portion-sized food and like to sip a glass of wine with each. In European culture, people eat a lot first and then they drink a lot.
While the Romans planted vineyards first, and Europe drank more wine than water, as they didn’t have means to purify it, tourists in Spain took this community drink across the world. Sangria is popular in India as it’s easy to make, fun to drink and many variations are available .