July 31-August 6: Week In A Glass (Pitcher)

This week’s report is a little different than usual. I worked on my “Sticks & Stones” sparkling white sangria recipe for most of the week and went to the Four Corners North HomeBrew Festival yesterday. The Tap House and The Bennington Chamber did a great job and the festival was incredible with a variety of mead, cider and beer on some of the coolest taps I’ve ever seen. I’m splitting my usual week in a glass into two posts. This one with a sparkling white sangria recipe and another with a breakdown of the homebrewing festival.

Tips For Creating Your First Sangria Recipe

Once you know the basics of a sangria recipe, you can create all kinds of deliciousness using your favorite flavors. Here are tips for nailing it each time.

  1. Accept that it’s a process. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is thinking that what you conceive and what comes out are going to be the same. Prepare for a first round that tastes like potential rather than perfection.
  2. Focus on one main fruit flavor. Think about what’s in season and start there. Too often people approach sangria from the position of fruit + wine. And, as I’ve mentioned, it just doesn’t work. Get specific.
  3. Learn about complementary flavors. I cannot recommend this flavor chart from BAKE IT RIGHT enough. It is my absolute best friend when thinking about any sort of flavor crafting. This chart and ctrl + f will quickly make light work of any sangria design. Sure, there are things that don’t apply (you’re not going to use lamb in your sangria) but there is more than enough to really expand your thinking. Pro tip: don’t use the first column to start but instead search around for your main flavor and see where else it pops up. You might be surprised.
  4. Think outside of the box. I’m working on a savory, herb-heavy sangria at the moment and let me tell you, there are things I simply cannot find anywhere near where I live or, oddly, on the internet. I know that black pepper schnapps exist. But I’ll be damned if I can get my hands on any. I started looking at restaurant supply shops and wouldn’t you know it, I found black pepper flavor oil drops. Highly concentrated (more bang for my buck) and non alcoholic. That can help bring down the boozy factor in a sangria that is already super boozy.
  5. Make ingredients when you can. Sure, you can order stuff on Amazon when you live in a place like I do. But you can also make things on your own. I love oregano more than any other herb and yet I can’t find oregano booze. I’m certainly not putting dried oregano in my sangria (impressive, since I put it on everything else) and I just didn’t think fresh leaves would be reliable when it was a part of the flavor profile. I started googling everything I could think of “oregano tincture” “oregano tisane” and eventually found oregano tea. Thank you, internet!
  6. Plot it on paper first and then take lots of notes. Scribble out your base recipe before heading to the kitchen. Use the lowest amounts of the ingredients in my starter recipe the first time. And take a LOT of notes. I’m serious. These will be your best friend as you tweak the recipe each time you make it. My first run at Sticks & Stones looked great on paper but was too boozy for my taste. And didn’t have enough raspberry. Noting this helps me, as I make more batches, track exactly where the sweet spot is. You don’t need fancy software to do this; just a notebook that can stay in the kitchen and get dirty.
  7. Quid pro quo. You will only get better if you are open to the fact that your first batch is not going to be perfect. The best way to get to perfect? Share your sangria with people and ask for their honest feedback. There are certain things you can disregard. If I have 4 friends taste a batch and 2 say it’s too boozy and 2 say it’s too sweet, I’m not going to be able to please them. But if 3 say they wish they could taste more raspberry? Well, I need to listen. You can add a little then or, if they are people you have access to regularly, just invite them over for the next batch when their palates are fresh.

Sticks & Stones Sparkling White Sangria

FINAL IMG Sticks & Stones Sangria.png

This is the current iteration. It is likely to change. But I find that my base recipe is too boozy and doesn’t have enough raspberry flavor.

What’s making it look like?

Step-By-Step: Sparkling Sangria Recipe In Action

Prep this stuff a day or two out:

Place all ingredients in the fridge a few days before making sangria. You can even put the rum in the freezer. The high alcohol content will keep it from freezing.

Chop the peaches. Chopping peaches seems a little daunting. So much so that you might be tempted to buy frozen or canned peaches. I don’t want to get all Ina Garten on you but here’s a fact: if I say “If you don’t want to chop fresh peaches from the farmers market, frozen or canned are fine.” I’ve been hit on the head. Rinse the peaches in a colander. Chop and then place them in a container and put them in the fridge. Don’t skin the peaches — the colors are too good to give up!

I used to hate cutting stone fruit until I did it enough to come up with a quick and easy way. Here’s how I do it now:

Make brown sugar simple syrup. Using a ration of 1.5:1 (sugar:water) add the desired amount to a pot. Heat and stir. When the syrup is translucent (zero grit) take it off of the heat. Place in a container and store in the fridge. You may find that simple syrup recipes call for 1:1 ratios however 1.5:1 is the best for cocktails because it’s sweeter, meaning it waters down your drink less.

Because this is a sparkling sangria, I suggest making it right before you serve it. Your ingredients are already prepared, so it won’t take long at all.

Safely open the bottle of wine and pour it into a pitcher. There’s a fun way to open a bottle of bubbles. It usually results in losing a considerable about of the bottle. It’s also not safe. Open the bottle the right way! Here’s how.

Add the peaches. 

Add the Framboise. Any raspberry liqueur will do. You don’t have to buy a $30+ bottle of Chambord.

Add the rum. I keep mine in the freezer at all times so that it’s always ready to go and crazy cold. I save water by using my already running fridge and freezer instead of using water for ice cubes. Add the peach nectar. This stuff can be tough to find depending on where you live. If your grocery store cells Ceres, the juice in a box, you’re covered. If not, check out the natural foods section. That’s where I tracked this puppy down.

Add simple syrup. 

Pour into glasses, garnish and serve. I used a simple garnish of fresh raspberries (which are a delicious end to the sangria) and cinnamon sticks circa 2009. I’m not sure how safe that was but they have been sitting in the pantry of my current home plus the two I owned prior to this one. Apparently I just grabbed them when I needed ground cinnamon instead. I’m glad I finally have an excuse to use them.

There you have it! I hope you’ll make this soon and enjoy it as much as I have.

1 Comment

  1. […] I’m not sure why we don’t constantly have frozen daiquiris in our glasses considering just how easy they are to make. But we don’t. I’m going to work on that. You should work on it, too. Because once you make one batch you’ll realize just how easy and impressive these are. Daiquiris are also a little more economical because they use far fewer ingredients than other drinks (like sangria). […]

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