I was making sangria this weekend and I had two assets: time and a great Cab.
Time was important because like many of you I am often tempted to “throw sangria together” at the last moment — or perhaps the last hour. I do give it time to chill, but not really the time to mellow and let all the flavors rise to the occasion and max the mix. I had four hours on Saturday.
And, for that wine, I had a bottle of Don Melchor, the superior Cabernet Sauvignon from Concha Y Toro in Chile. This wine is a sophisticated delight on its own, with fine cheese, or the intensity of a steak streaked with black and juicy red in the center.
Use that quality wine in a sangria? Yes. Definitely. Hell, yes. You are not in college anymore, you know. You’ve got 40 years left? Goodness, you have less than 16,000 nights of imbibing left. Don’t waste one precious opportunity. Sangria can be as wonderfully exciting and marvelous as any wine beverage if …
If you use time and use your ingredients to their full advantage. I had my Cab. I had a perfectly ripe mango. And I had a pint of peaking strawberries. One sangria technique, the quick one, is to cut up the fruit, dump it into the wine, perhaps add some sugar, and top it off with a quantity of something strong: say a cup of brandy. That’s the wrong way to go. You want to cut the fruit and let it macerate with some sugar and an appropriately selective liqueur. You do that for some time to extract juice, and therefore flavor, from the fruit.
That is the trick I employed here: use a different liqueur for each fruit. Literally, match the liqueur to the fruit. For the tropical mango, what better thing than Cachaca from Brazil. For the strawberries, Fragoli strawberry liqueur for the berries. The result? A densely, intensely flavorful sangria. Full of fruit notes that swirl in your mouth in great complexity. Berry then mango then back to berry. The flavors dash about, never competing, but surely reinforcing. And beneath it all is the base flavor of that lovely Chilean Cab.
Yield: 6 large portions
- 1 pint of strawberries, husked and halved
- ¼ cup of sugar
- ½ cup of Fragoli strawberry liqueur
- 1 ripe mango, peeled and sliced
- ¼ cup of sugar
- ½ cup of Cachaca
- 1 bottle of Don Melchor
Place the strawberry halves in a small bowl and sprinkle with sugar. Top with the Fragoli, and stir to mix.
In a second bowl, place the mango slices. Sprinkle with sugar, top with the Cachaca and stir to mix. Cover both bowls and refrigerate for two hours.
Open the Don Melchor and pour into a pitcher. Empty the two fruit bowls into the pitcher and stir to mix. Refrigerate for two more hours.
Serve in chilled glasses adorned with strawberry halves or slice of lemon or lime.