The origin of sangria is Spanish and Portuguese and is made with red wine, orange juice, chopped fruit and alcohol, like brandy. I actually had my fair share of sangria during my semester abroad in Spain my junior year, however, I was never a huge fan. I found it to be too heavy and not as fruit forward. That said, I did not try every sangria made in Spain, so it could be that I did not find a sangria that was pleasing to my palate at that point in time. Regardless of how I felt years ago, in the past couple years I have grown very fond of sangria and have discovered where to drink it in the Triangle, where to buy it bottled and how to make it at home.
If you are in downtown Durham and in the mood for a delicious sangria, I recommend Mateo bar de tapas. The tapas bar has a Cheerwine Sangria on the menu made with red wine, Cheerwine, citrus, seasonal fruit and basil. They also have a Sweet Tea Sangria made with white wine, citrus, seasonal fruit and mint. Mateo’s sangria does have a North Carolina twist with the addition of Cheerwine and sweet tea, however, I love-love-love the Cheerwine Sangria. Don’t stop with the sangria and make sure you order off of Mateo’s tapas menu. Everything on their menu is delicious, however, the Gambas and Butter Bean tapas are outstanding. If you have never tried sangria, Mateo’s is a great introduction to the Spanish and Portuguese drink, plus you can have the Spanish experience by indulging in their tapas, which are the best representation of tapas I have had in the United States to date.
If you are in the mood for a glass or two of sangria in the comfort of your own home, I recommend Sangria Lolea, a bottled sangria that comes in a red and white wine variety. If you are local to the North Carolina Triangle, Earth Fare has Lolea in stock at a price point of $15-$16. Lolea’s bold red and white polk-a-dot design is what first caught my attention. As I admired the Lolea bottles, one of the Earth Fare wine experts mentioned how delicious Lolea is and also commented that a customer recently purchased 24 bottles for a private event. I purchased and sampled Lolea No 1 (red wine variety) and No 2 (white wine variety) and they are both fantastic! I tried to choose a favorite between the two, but that was difficult because they are both delicious. I paired both sangria varieties with a Mitica Cana de Cabra (goat cheese) and Le Fromage Daffinois Double Cream (cow cheese), pepper jellies and crackers. If you are hosting a party and would like to dress up Sangria Lolea, chop up the fruit of your choice, add to your cocktail or wine glass and pour your preferred Lolea. The bottle sangria is a delicious, no fuss option.
If you would like to create your own sangria, I have a great recipe to share that I created using Chardonnay & Grand Marnier, which has been featured in the Summer 2017 Issue of the Prevailing Woman Magazine alongside my Pineapple-Mango Salsa recipe. This sangria is versatile in that your can add your choice of fruit and modify it to suit your taste. However, you will need to prepare this sangria 12-24 hours in advance of drinking so that you allow the fruit flavors to infuse. The White Wine Sangria recipe will yield a little more than 1250 ml of sangria, so you will need a large pitcher or drink dispenser. The added chopped fruit will add volume, so take that into account as well. Following is the recipe for my White Wine Sangria.
White Wine Sangria Ingredients:
1 bottle of chilled Chardonnay or other dry white wine
3 large oranges
1 cup of seedless grapes
1 cup of strawberries
1 star fruit for garnish
½ liter of chilled ginger ale
2 oz. of Grand Marnier
Large Spoon or Ladle
Large Pitcher or Drink Dispenser
Chop grapes, strawberries and mango into bite size pieces and place in a bowl. Quarter the oranges and juice oranges into a pitcher or drink dispenser. Do not discard the oranges and set aside in a bowl with the chopped fruit. Add the chilled wine, two ounces of Grand Marnier and ½ cup of sugar to the orange juice and mix well with a large spoon. Add the chopped fruit and oranges to the wine mixture and chill for 12-24 hours. Once the sangria mixture has chilled and you are ready to serve your sangria, add ½ a liter of chilled ginger ale and mix well. Use a ladle to scoop the bite size fruit and sangria to each wine glass. Slice a star fruit or your choice of fruit and use as garnish on the rim of your wine glass. Be creative with your sangria! If you do not have Grand Marnier readily available, you can use vodka, rum or brandy. If you prefer other fruit – experiment! Pineapples, kiwi, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are other great options. I always do my best to shop what is in season, so great fall and winter fruit such as persimmons, pears, apples, pomegranates are other wonderful options. If you create your own sangria, be sure to comment below and share your creation. Cheers!