Thursday, 16 June 2011

Blood, Wine and War

The History of Sangria

Sangria—The word that once meant ‘blood’ is now one of the most popular drinks in the world. This refreshing concoction, usually made of fruit soaked in red wine, is a refreshing summer drink enjoyed around the word. But what are its origins? What is the history of sangria?

In order to discover the true history of sangria, we have to go back hundreds of years, when the world seemed much larger, modern history was unwritten, and vineyards were beginning to spread across the Iberian peninsula.

And the people who did this—the people who planted the ancient vineyards of Spain—did not arrive peacefully. They arrived spilling blood. They were the Romans. This was around 200 BC. They conquered Spain. They planted the vineyards that would one day become responsible for the very first sip of sangria.

The local citizens, in their quest for refreshment, and alcoholic enjoyment, created fruit punches from the red wines they were now enjoying. They called these drinks sangria. For they were the color of blood, and packed a punch because they were often fortified with a ‘punch’ of brandy.
This also explains why red wine is the most commonly used base for sangria—because those very Romans who planted vineyards thousands of years ago discovered that red grape varietals produced the best wine. Thus red grapes were planted, red wine was made, and red wine sangria was born.

Fast forward thousands of years and history was made in the United States when the sangria was brought to the 1964 world’s fair in New York City.

Sangria is now enjoyed around the world, in restaurants, cafes, bars, and especially at home. You can even buy pre-made sangria, but I recommend making your own. It is very easy, and far more delicious, with your choice of fresh fruits, wine, and any amount of ‘punch’ you desire.

For approximately 1½ litres of Sangria

1 bottle of red wine
Lemonade or Gaseosa
a shot glass of Brandy
a shot glass of Vodka
a shot glass of Grand Marnier or Cointreau
Lemon, orange and lime

Into a punch bowl or a large jug pour 1 bottle of red wine and more or less the same amount of lemonade (in Spain they use gaseosa). The quantity of lemonade depends on your taste. Add a good amount of ice.
Wash the fruit well as you are going to being using the peel as well. Then slice up the citrus fruits and add to the mix.
You can stop at that if you want a light drink but if you want a zing add a shot of Brandy,Vodka and a shot of Grand Marnier or Cointreau. This is up to you and you may want to experiment with it to find what you like.
Spanish people often add a little sugar but again this depends on your taste, personally I think a little sugar enhances the flavour.

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