Sangria is a word we’re hearing a lot these days. 6th and Vine in downtown Winston-Salem is having Sangria Tuesdays (glasses for just $5), and Yadkin Valley Wine Tours will serve the delightful drink during its Island Sangria Wine Tour on July 13.
But what exactly is sangria? Well, you can think of it as punch. The only requirements are that it’s fruity, boozy, and cold. Beyond that, "it’s as flexible as you want it to be," says Bruce Heye, Winston-Salem’s resident "Wine Guy."
Heye’s recipe for sangria is pretty basic and perfect for parties—full-flavored wine, chopped fruit, and carbonated liquid. "I never make the same sangria twice because I don’t measure," he says. "The key is to taste it and see what’s missing."
Heye recommends grenache (garnacha) or syrah for red sangria, and oaked chardonnay or a white Rhone varietal for white sangria. Choose an inexpensive wine since "it will be diluted by the other ingredients."
Heye typically throws in a chopped orange, apple, and lime, but "even strawberries could be added." He tops it with a small amount of tonic water, 7-Up, or ginger ale to give it a little fizz. Instead of using ice cubes, Heye likes to freeze water in a large container with sloping sides. He places the ice chunk in a serving bowl, which waters down the sangria less quickly.
6th and Vine takes the basic recipe up a notch by adding triple sec and brandy to the mix. The bar also increases the fruit flavor with three different juices. Kristen Crawford, bar manager, says, "It’s fun to play around with flavors. I’ve added St. Germain (elderflower liqueur), triple sec, strawberries, apples, and watermelon to moscato. I’ve also used raspberry and blackberry schnapps. You can add pretty much anything."
While the drink is typically fermented to allow the fruit to relinquish its flavor, 6th and Vine makes its sangria on demand by the glass. "A lot of restaurants make it a few days in advance, which makes the fruit soggy. We want ours to be fresh," Crawford says.
No matter how you make it, Heye says the key is to "never, NEVER buy bottled sangria. It’s not very good, and you can make your own in only a few minutes. The most time-consuming task is cutting the fruit."