Friday, October 4, 2013

Sweet Sangria (Sparkling Cherry Sangria)

Having recently opined on the sublime delight of tapas, I feel I'm now required to share a couple more recipes to help round one's dinner out. To start, the ideal accompaniment to tapas: sangria. Named for the sanguinary shade typically imparted by red wine, this traditional fruit punch is a classic libation of the Iberian summer. By combining a variety of sweet and tart notes, it serves as a pleasing counterpart to the generally savory and salty array of tapas.


Sangria follows a basic formula: wine (usually red), fruit, sweetener, and brandy, inviting a host of experiments and variations. Nothing could be easier than chopping up some citrus and blending it with booze, a tradition that extends from the ancient Roman hippocras, or mulled wine. The warmth of the Spanish coast eventually inspired the chilled version we enjoy today.

Ready to party
Since many critiques of sangria seem to focus on its "headachey" or saccharine qualities, my version aims to specifically avert those failings. The mysterious case of the red wine headache, alternatively attributed to sulfites, histamines, tannins, or tyramine suggested a replacement of the requisite red wine. Inspired by my favorite tapas restaurant, I swapped in a bright, sparkling Cava, instead. This gives the drink lighter flavor and a quaffable effervescence. Since the transition to white threatened the classically ruddy hue, I added a large amount of tart cherry juice. This imparts ruby color and rich cherry flavor. The cherry juice also doubles as the sweetener, replacing the sugar most recipes would add and reducing the overall impression that one is drinking alcoholic candy.

Just sweet enough
Sparkling cherry sangria

The fruit can be chopped ahead, but it's best to mix this up fresh before serving for maximum sparkle.

1 orange, quartered and thinly sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 lime, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh cherries, halved and pitted
2 cups unsweetened cherry juice
1 cup orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier
Ice, to fill pitcher
1 bottle sparkling wine, such as Cava, chilled

Begin by slicing the fruit and pitting the cherries, tipping them into a serving pitcher.

Slice to meet you
Pour the cherry juice and orange liqueur over the fruit. For maximal flavor infusion, cover the and leave to macerate in the fridge for several hours or overnight.

Getting tipsy
Just before the serving, top up the pitcher with ice, then slowly pour in the sparkling wine, tilting the pitcher and flowing the liquid down the side to inhibit a foamy head.

Let it flow
Serve and enjoy.


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