Sangria. I think I am going to decree it the beverage of the summer. At least for myself. I will let you decide. But just let me express my love of sangria for a moment.
Imagine a long hot day. You are tired and decide to sit down outside on a supremely comfortable lawn chair, feet up. A cool breeze starts to blow — the sound of wind through the trees. Your tiny toddler pours water from the hose into a cup and then dumps it onto the ground — the sound of laughter. In your hand, a wine glass, cool and crisp. A tad bit sweet, ripe with juicy fruit. But a bit complex with a little herb, bright, green and fresh. You take a sip. This is summer.
I never used to like sangria. I always thought it was too sweet, especially the red. It always seemed too heavy and thick to drink in the summer. Then there is the issue of the wine. Why is a lot of sangria made with wine that I would never drink by itself?
So here is the key to a great sangria. You have to use a wine that can stand alone. Even though you are adding fruit and cognac and sugar, the wine has to be good. Now I‘m not suggesting that you go out and buy an expensive bottle of wine. I am suggesting something far easier than that. Boxed wine. I know, you are gasping in horror. Not boxed wine! But I think boxed wine has come a long way. It is even, dare I say it, sexy.
There are many reasons that I like boxed wines. The biggest reason is that you can actually find really great boxed wines now. They aren’t exactly cheap, but they aren’t expensive either. Also, the “green” aspect is great. The packaging is recyclable, much lighter for shipping — meaning less environmental impact. In fact, the TetraPak, is supposed to be less harmful to the environment than a glass bottle.
The wine I used, Yellow+Blue, also is made with organic grapes. It was a 2008 Torrontes. Floral and crisp. A bit sweeter than other Torrontes, but for this purpose that works just fine.
I wouldn’t suggest using a sweeter wine like a Riesling. Sangria is only truly refreshing if it maintains a good bit of acidity. Too much sweetness and all the flavors will be lost.
You are going to want to make this recipe a day ahead. The flavors from the herbs and fruit really need to sit and marinate in the wine.
First, chop up some watermelon and basil, then throw it into your pitcher with the wine. Add some cognac and simple syrup. My second word of warning: be careful with the sugar. Always use a bit less then you think. You can always add more later, and you don’t want too much sweetness.
When your sangria is ready, head out to that lawn chair. Sit down. Wait for the cool breeze. Take a sip. And enjoy the last dog days of summer.
Watermelon Basil Sangria
1 liter of white wine (Torrontes or other medium-bodied white)
1/8 cup cognac
1/4 cup simple sugar (combine 1/4 c sugar and 1/4 cup water together. Heat just until sugar begins to melt, stir until sugar is dissolved)
2 cups fresh watermelon (chopped)
1 large handful fresh basil (chopped)
Combine all ingredients in a glass pitcher. Allow to sit overnight in refrigerator. Strain mixture and serve chilled. Enjoy!
For more photos and recipe ideas, check out Corey’s blog,Intheorganickitchen.com. Visit often to see her latest organic obsession.