If you go to Spain, you have to try a traditional Sangria. When in Rome, they say, so as the Romans do, and this popular and traditional drink is available at just about every bar and restaurant. Each place may have their own variation of the recipe, so it is fun to try it at different locations and compare. Sometimes the recipe is changed to go with the type of food that is being served.
Sangria is considered a summer drink, and you will find it served primarily during the summer when you are in the northern part of Spain, but in the south, where it is endless summer, you will find it served all year long. The mild temperatures of the fall, winter and spring encourage drinking this refreshing, fruity drink. The string of the sangria you will encounter will vary from place to place. Bars will most likely serve a stronger concoction than will a dance club.
Sangria itself originated in Spain. The word is the Spanish word for bleeding, and so it gets its name from the color of the red wine that is used in making traditional sangria. There are variations today that use white wine instead, but they are called sangria blanca.
The basic sangria recipe is red wine, juice, club soda and fruit. A young red wine is the best one to use, and the ingredients should all be of good quality, so choose a good wine and fresh juices and fruit.
The sangria you will be served in a restaurant or bar is traditionally served in a one liter pitcher. The pitcher has a strainer on the lid so the fruit and ice can be filtered out when the drink is poured. Sangria is available by the glass serving, but by the pitcher is the more usual way it is served. However, at a large party, you will find sangria served in a large punch bowl, with the fruit floating on top in a lovely manner. How to make your own sangria: Pour together the following: one bottle of red wine, two cups of orange juice, one half cup of triple sec or brandy, and sliced oranges. Let stand for a while, then stir in ice and two cups of club soda.
You can change the fruit or the wine in a sangria recipe, and if you prefer to have a wine drink that goes better with light foods, you may prefer sangria blanca. Another variation is to use sparking white wine.
You have to let the flavor of the fruits blend in with the other ingredients, so this drink should be made a few hours ahead of time, or even the night before. When you are ready to serve, add the club soda and ice. Of course, you can adjust the ingredients to suit your own taste, such as using lemons in addition to oranges, or substituting pineapple. If you try different combinations of fruit, juice and perhaps flavored sodas, you will come up with an interesting group of recipes you can serve for different occasions.
The columnist Peter J. Wilson is especially interested in ideas relating to Spain. You might discover his publications on sangria recipe at various other sources for sangria recipe information.