My Perfect (Unsweet, Unboozy) Sangria

At last, perfect for summer parties, a big pitcher of dry sangria that's fruity and refreshing, not cloyingly sweet and dizzyingly boozy. For anyone who's ever been turned off by sangria, this recipe will be a revelation.

This recipe is so quick and easy
that I'm adding it to a special collection of easy summer recipes
published throughout the summer of 2009.
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In my life, the idea of sangria has always outsold the reality. I idealized a tall glass of Spanish wine served cold and spicy on a steamy summer’s day. The sorry reality: a cloyingly sweet wine punch with so much alcohol that a glassful dropped me into a doozey of a dozey daze. Instead, I wanted a summer sangria to sip, one that deserved and allowed a second cup.

So in a moment of inspiration, this perfect sangria was born. It added to a happy party one night, was appointed the drink of choice for the ‘family kitchen staff’ at a large party the next, and I sipped on the dregs for the rest of the week. Lovely, lovely, lovely. Finally, the idea and the reality of sangria become one.

ALANNA's TIPS Cloves? Yes, cloves! The spice adds depth and dimension to the wine and the fruit both. Feel free to play with the fruit, grapes, peaches, plums would all be great. Do include some citrus, it adds a needed sharpness. Choose an inexpensive Spanish wine such as a rioja or a Grenache. I find great choices at Trader Joe’s for about $7 a bottle. Trader Joe’s also carries great sugar-free diet sodas from Hansen’s with delicious fruity flavors, Mandarine Lime and Ginger Ale. They’re perfect for sangria. If the wine is quite fruity, no agave or honey may be needed at all. Taste before adding! If you have time, freeze a big block or two of ice ahead of time, just be sure it can be dropped into the pitcher. A big block melts more slowly, preventing the sangria from getting watered down. We like to freeze red grapes to use as ice cubes in the glasses.

SUMMER EASY:
MY PERFECT SANGRIA

Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 2 hours
Makes 5 cups
  • 1 apple
  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lime
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 4 tablespoons agave or honey, optional (see TIPS)
  • 1 bottle red wine, preferably Spanish (see TIPS)
  • 1 12-ounce cans diet fruity soda (see TIPS)
  • Ice (see TIPS)

Core the apple, slice into thin rings. Slice the tips off the orange, lemon and lime, then cut into rounds. Drop << half >> the fruit into a pitcher, add the cinnamon stick, cloves and agave (see TIPS). Put the remaining fruit in a large bowl and ‘muddle’ (that is, smash) with the back of a wooden spoon to release the juices and oils. Place a colander over the pitcher, add the muddled fruit to drain the juice into the pitcher. Pour the wine and soda over the fruit through the colander into the pitcher. To allow the flavors to meld, refrigerate for an hour or so. Just before serving, add a big block of ice to the pitcher, otherwise, serve in glasses over ice.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE Per Cup, With/without Agave: 176/125Cal; 0g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 6mg Sodium; 19/5g Carb; 0g Fiber; 16/2g Sugar; 0g Protein; Weight Watchers 3/2 points This recipe has been 'Alanna-sized' with reductions in sugar and alcohol and increases in no-calorie flavors.
'Muddling' the fruit to release the juices and the oils.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. In 2009, Kitchen Parade celebrates its 50th anniversary with a special collection of my mother's recipes.
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OMG it's been years since I've had sangrai and you are so right, it was always so sweet. This sounds de-lish!
 
My husband and I love good sangria - and he introduced me to white sangria at a Spanish restaurant a few years ago, and that's just as good - but a little different. Just use a Spanish white instead of a red.
 
The Sangria I've had in Spain (many) always have brandy added (a bit) - but, they're diluted with sparkling water. I make white wine sangria that's 50/50 with sparkling water - but with peach liqueur added. And, of course, citrus added. Brings back memories....
 
Ali ~ Thanks, enjoy!

ToyLady ~ White sangria, must try it, too!

Katie ~ Glad to bring back memories! I 'like' the taste of brandy in sangria but find it just too alcoholic. I love your idea of white sangria with peach liqueur, or maybe, for less alcohol (again, a theme!) peach nectar.
 
This looks like a refreshing recipe!I'm going to try and replace the red wine with red grape juice, since I'm a teetotaler.
 
This looks awesome! I might try this with white wine. I much prefer white to red but I love sangria (and you're right, when it's especially boozy it can be dangerous!)
 
I made this recipe yesterday for a 4th of July BBQ. Everyone (including myself) loved it and it was gone in no time, but I do have to say that it tasted more like a mulled wine than sangria to me. I think it was the cloves that gave it that effect. So, with that said, I will most likely make this recipe again, but it might be warm and during the winter months!!! Thanks for the fabulous recipe!! ;-)
 
Anushruti ~ Thanks for that idea, a second no-alcohol jug is a great idea for parties, too.

Maris ~ I'd like to try a white wine version too - especially sans all the booze.

Dawn ~ Aha! Perhaps because I've been lusting after mulled wine all winter, that's why the cloves taste so good to me? Is there a spice you'd use to make it taste more summery to you? I need to give that some thought myself, we're doing a two-bottle batch for a family party over the weekend, will experiment!
 

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna