Suzi's Blog

Sparkling Apple Cider Sangria


Sangria is a word that conjures up languid summer evenings. Some tapas, a pitcher of the fruity liquid, and a comfy chair. After two or three glasses, the world is fine.

Living in the Hudson Valley, we are surrounded by apples, which are often part of the fruit of our summer sangrias. But, for this Thanksgiving, we went further, using the apples and cider in a holiday sangria that is every bit as refreshing as those summer varieties.

This recipe has everything you might want: sparkling wine, fresh apples, apple cider, some cognac for a kick, and pomegranate seeds for a dash of holiday color.

By the way, it tastes sublime. Apple flavor mixed with sparkling wine. Not too sweet, because there is no sugar added, as many sangria recipes suggest you do. And it is pretty on cold winter night as the red pomegranate seeds slide past the slices of apple in the glass.

For Christmas or New Years, this is a simple yet distinctive beverage to begin your celebrations.


Sparkling Apple Cider Sangria

Yield: serves 8


  • 2 apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
  • ½ cup cognac
  • 3 cups apple cider
  • 1 750 ml bottle of Cava or other sparkling wine [but do try Cava first]
  • ¼ cup pomegranate seeds for garnish


Add the apples to a large pitcher, reserving about ½ cup for garnishing. Add the cognac, apple cider, and chilled Cava.

Stir gently to mix. Refrigerate until ready to use, then add ice to the pitcher.

Pour into ice filled glasses, topping each glass with a couple of slices of apple and several pomegranate seeds.



Photo Information: Canon T2i, 18-53MM Macro Lens, F/2.8, 1/100th second, ISO 1250




Cava: Your Sparkling Alternative

Cava, from Spain, is the world’s best selling sparkling wine [Yes, French wine makers will dispute that!]. Spain actually has more land devoted to grape cultivation than any other country, but its yields are lower so that Spain only ranks third in terms of volume of wine production. Most Cava producers are established in Northeast Spain near Barcelona in the region of Catalonia, where 95% of all Cava is made.

The variety and quality from Spain’s 10,000 wineries is wonderful. I do enjoy Spanish wine but Cava is certainly Brian’s favorite. As a base for sparkling wine cocktails, Cava supplies a pure, sweet flavor that blends so very well with fruits and other spirits. Spanish warmth, plus the Spanish varietals, can only be expected to produce sparkling wines that differ from their French and Italian counterparts.

“Cava” means cellar in Spanish and Cava is carefully crafted with traditional Champagne techniques. The two great producers of Cava are Codorniu — founded in 1551 — and Freixenet. The two began Cava production in 1872 and 1889. These two firms have clashed in court over approaches to wine making and their opinions of their competition. In the 1990s there were charges of wine making heresy: using unauthorized grapes! Purely made Cava is based on three Spanish varietals: Parellada, Macebeo, and Xarel-lo. Since joining the EU, these two Cava firms, and all other Spanish wineries, are working through the network of regulations and requirements. Fortunately, Spanish wine quality has not suffered in the process. In fact, before 1970 Spanish sparkling wine was called Champagna but apparently that clashed with another country’s view of the world. Champagna out, Cava in.

As you might expect for a sparkling wine, there is range of prices for Cava. There are excellent, truly excellent bottles out there for under $10. We drink it with appetizers, with entrees and with chocolate for dessert. And, of course, Cava is an excellent choice for some hours spent on tapas. Cava is a natural match for the widest range of food flavors. On your next passage down the aisles of your wine store, do meander in the Spanish sparkling section. Sample a few brands and you’re like to find a new favorite.