Lately the Kansas weather has been unseasonably cool, and left us longing for sunny days and lingering summer evenings. We are ready to enjoy those slow summer sunsets from lounge chairs on the deck, and outdoor brunch dates on a patio with friends. And, we are ready for Sangria!
This month is all about the popular hot weather cocktail, Sangria. The American craze for Sangria began in 1964 at the World’s Fair in New York. Sangria as we know it originated in Spain, and is traditionally made by blending red wine from Spain’s Rioja or Tempranillo regions with brandy or other liquor, fruit, spices, and sugar. Throughout the decades since it was introduced in the United States Sangria has become one of the most versatile and popular cocktails on the menu, often found to be an overly sweet, American doppelgänger of its former self. For Jennifer and me, we are most interested in understanding the rich history and true character of wine and Sangria is no exception.
The beginning of the Spanish wine industry is mostly due to the Romans. Notorious for their drinking habits, the Romans promptly planted endless vineyards in Spain around 200BC to supply their own wine demands. (Conquering all of Europe obviously made a Roman thirsty.) But “Hippocras”, the Latin word for spiced wine, can be traced much further back to the Middle Ages when water was unsafe to drink without some form of treatment to kill bacteria. It was common practice to add small amounts of wine or alcohol to any beverage, even those consumed by small children. This is likely one of the oldest forms of modern Sangria.
Wine production flourished out of the ports of Spain for close to one thousand years before coming to a complete halt in 711AD when the Islamic Moors gained control of the ports. It wasn’t until 1492 that the Spaniards would resume wine and sangria production again. By this time, Sangria Blanco (white wine sangria), Cava (sparkling wine sangria), and Zurra (peach or nectarine based sangria from the south of Spain) all began to build momentum. Fast forward to the 18th and 19th centuries and “Claret Cup Punch” could be found at parties large and small throughout Europe. In the time of Gatsby and the heroines of Jane Austen, Sangria had taken on an aristocratic tone with French flair. Claret, a British term for Bordeaux, had replaced the Spanish red wines as the base for the drink.
As we come back to the present day, there seems to be endless versions available at the tap of a finger (thanks, Pinterest!). It’s a perfect drink for long weekends or BBQ’s since a large batch can be made in advance and will last several days in the kitchen refrigerator. But in all honesty, has anyone ever known a batch of Sangria to actually last several days?? It is far too delicious to stick around.
Award winning bartender and acclaimed author, Jeffrey Morgenthaler, has this to say about the guidelines to great traditional red Sangria:
Do use an inexpensive, dry yet fruit forward red from the Rioja region of Spain.
But, do NOT think that a $5 bottle of wine will yield delicious results.
Do use a decent quality brandy and orange liquor such as Grand Marnier.
To that, we would like to add a few bits of our own advice.
When choosing wine for your sangria, aim to purchase a dry to off-dry wine.
Add fruit that compliments the flavors and aromas of the wine you have chosen to use as the base of your Sangria.
Adding a touch of sweet, such as honey or agave (be careful here, the too-much-of-a-good-thing rule is very applicable with this) binds all of the flavors of your Sangria together and provides great balance.
So, do you have a favorite Sangria recipe? It will surely come as no surprise to you that we have several! Our urban winery at Union Station will offer both a red and white house blended Sangria. Until we see you there in August, here are a few other great recipes to try:
Sparkling White Peach Sangria
1 bottle of Jenny Dawn Cellars White Wine
1 bottle Extra Dry Prosecco or Brut Champagne
1 c. Peach Schnapps
1/2 c. Brandy
½ c. Honey, Agave, or Simple Syrup *if desired
Fresh peaches, citrus, and pears sliced accordingly
1 bottle of Jenny Dawn Cellars Rosé
¾ c. bourbon
¼ c. Chambord Liqueur
1 c. pink grapefruit juice
1 c. Perrier or San Pellegrino
1/8 c. Honey, Agave or Simple Syrup, to taste
Fresh strawberries, raspberries, pink grapefruit
1 bottle of Jenny Dawn Cellars 2016 Pinot Noir
½ c. Brandy
¼ c. Triple Sec
Freshly squeezed juice of ½ navel orange
Fresh sliced navel oranges, blackberries, and strawberries
Allow all of these amazing Sangria’s to sit overnight with fruit added if possible, and serve over ice. Pouring Sangria from a pitcher with a pinched lip will help trap the ice and fruit in the pitcher and prevent splashing upon serving. From Jenny and myself, we raise our glass of cold Sangria to the ushering in of summer, our beautiful urban winery buildout that is underway, and Sangria.
We’ve bottled the art of timing.
From the vine to the bottle. We craft our wine from grapes, fruit, and juice sourced from the finest growers in the nation. From the bottle to the glass.
That’s where you come in. When you open a bottle of Jenny Dawn Cellars wine, you open your moment, your reprieve from the business of busy-ness, and your time to bloom.
Jenny Dawn Cellars is inspired by the wildflowers on the Kansas countryside, inviting you to open up, enjoy the breeze, and show your colors to the world. Just like a flower, when Jenny Dawn Cellars wine is shared with someone special, it needs no further explanation – it’s a feeling that is simply understood.
Jenny Dawn Cellars – Let your moment begin.
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