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April 26, 2009

A redacted recipe for sangria
Posted by Teresa at 09:10 PM *

Once upon a time, Jim Macdonald gave me his sangria recipe, and behold, it was good. Then I lost it, and I’ve never been able to persuade him to give it to me again.* This year, as sangria season approached, I pulled a maneuver I’ve used to arrive at other recipes that exist in multiple versions: I collected a bunch of vouched-for sangria recipes, discarded the outliers, and redacted what remained. Oddly enough, the results are very like what I remember of Jim’s recipe:

one 750 ml. bottle of robust, inexpensive red wine
one orange
one lemon
one lime (or an extra orange)
1/4 C. sugar
1/2 C. brandy

Optional additions: Up to one cup of additional orange juice, to taste. Some amount of an orange liqueur like Cointreau or Triple Sec, which you should add along with the brandy. Some amount of club soda, if you want it dilute and fizzy.

How to: Put the wine in the refrigerator. Muddle the fruit with the sugar. Add the brandy, mix well, and let it macerate in the fridge for 2-8 hours. To serve, add the wine, stir well, stir again before pouring, and serve over ice. If you don’t have time to let it macerate, serve it very cold and use lots of ice.

If anyone’s interested, the recipes whose genetic material went into that are’s Basic Sangria, Zeke “Easier to Keel the second time” S.’s “official recipe from our spanish cookbook”, Lisa on’s Classic Spanish Sangria, and Adam Ried’s recipe for The Best Sangria, originally published in Cook’s Illustrated, as quoted by Grace on the Cooking Light forum.

What are outliers that got excluded? Sangria is an old, straightforward recipe, so the list of anathemas pretty much has to start with turning it into an alcoholic fruit cocktail. This excludes pears, pomegranate seeds, maraschino cherries, kiwi fruit, a cup of fresh basil leaves, and/or a can of Dole Pineapple Chunks. You may add a sliced peach or two or a handful of cherries when they’re in season, but that’s about it.

The same goes for the liquid versions of that heresy, especially the cheap drink mixes added to stretch the number of servings: canned pineapple juice, canned apricot nectar, Country Time powdered drink mix, frozen cranberry juice concentrate, frozen pink lemonade concentrate, artificial peach-flavored anything, 7-Up, and Hawaiian Punch.

I excluded whole cloves and whole cinnamon sticks. There may be some authentically indigenous versions of sangria that include them, but by my lights they’re something that snuck in from mulled wine. I have a similar objection to gin, grenadine, and tonic water: they are not a commutative property of semi-tropical cocktails containing citrus. Finally, sour-apple schnapps and coconut-flavored rum are Right Out, for reasons I don’t want to explain as it would involve having to think about them.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t add whatever you want. I’m just saying it’s your look-out if you do.

[Recipe Index]

Comments on A redacted recipe for sangria:
#1 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2009, 10:13 PM:

I prefer white rum to the brandy. Also, pull the fruit from the rind and let the pulp soak in the rum for a few days to create something very cordial/liqueur like. It takes more prep time, but the fruit is powerful when you get a chunk.

#2 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2009, 10:16 PM:

Sisuile: I'd rather use brandy than rum, but I agree with your summary of the effect. Try soaking strawberries in spirits for a few days. They'll put you on the floor in no time.

#3 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2009, 10:29 PM:

Ginger ale, especially the spicier one's, are a great alternative to club soda.

#4 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2009, 10:54 PM:

When we were stationed in Virginia Beach and I was in high school, my English teacher used to invite four or five of us to the beach in front of her house on the weekends and serve us endless sangria. She used red wine as the base, but I don't like alcohol so I used to just let it sit.

#5 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2009, 11:09 PM:

I'd rather use brandy than rum

You'd fit right in here in Wisconsin. I shall have to try this recipe.

#6 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 12:11 AM:

I always thought there was black ice tea in it. Well...

#7 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 12:22 AM:

I don't know how I feel about a dash of pomegranite, because it's not unlocal.

But I am so there with you on the sour-apple and coconut rum, they bear not thinking on.

#8 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 12:26 AM:

Margaret: black tea takes the mixture closer to the idea of Fish House Punch. Or, at least, that's what I think of when considering alcohol mixtures with cold black tea.

#9 ::: Melonie ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 12:28 AM:

There is a cheat for sangria that will fool the masses and make you a hero at any sputtering party.

Use fruit punch
Add frozen fruit from a bag
Cheap wine
club soda or ginger ale
additional hard alcohol of choice (rum/brandy)

For dark sangria, use red wine, Dole berry punch, the mixed berry frozen fruit, club soda and brandy

For peach sangria, use white wine, Dole peach punch, the frozen peach fruit mix, ginger ale and peach rum.

#10 ::: Bill ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 02:09 AM:

Will my mom's friend's Sangria recipe from the 1970s evade being disemvoweled for heresy? It was Gallo Hearty Burgundy, Tang, and 7-Up....

One thing my wife likes, and has introduced to at least one restaurant that had never heard of the concept, is white wine sangria. You obviously wouldn't use an oakey wine like chardonnay for it (as opposed to my mom's friend's recipe, which would do ok with Okie wines...) but any basic dry or sweet white wine seems to work ok.

#11 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 03:03 AM:

Flipantly, should we apply sangria to ward off the flu? ;)

#12 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 03:37 AM:

Sometimes, though, the outliers are what makes a recipe interesting.

For instance, while few recipes contain it, I consider chocolate a critical ingredient of a chili con carne. Relatively few recipes for Bolognese sauce contain milk, but it's an essential part of the authentic dish.

For sangria, I'd suggest substituting some Triple Sec (or, if unavailable, Cointreau) for about half of the brandy. It's an unusual choice, but it works pretty well, I think.

#13 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 03:42 AM:

xeger: xkcd seems to be suggesting something along those lines (read the alt text).

But white wine sangria? That really is heresy. Sorry.

#14 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 03:57 AM:

Jules: If relatively few recipes call for a thing, it seems to me the sense of authentic is somewhat off.

Either it was in the original and has been dispensed with, or something else is wrong.

#15 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 03:58 AM:

edited: I forgot to mention that I don't think the authentic can count as the outlier.

#16 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 04:43 AM:

Jules #13: But white wine sangria? That really is heresy. Sorry.

You could always mix some red food coloring in the sangria to rationalize not feeling guilty about enjoying it. But then again, I was conditioned at an early age to prefer Bernkasteler Doktor over any other wine, so perhaps my objectivity in this case may be considered questionable.

#17 ::: Daniel Klein ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 05:12 AM:

Caveat bibentor: leftover fruit from sangria or punch, when eaten the next day, even jokingly ("oh hey let's see if we can get drunk by eating fruit! Shouldn't that be 'eaten' then? Let's get eaten!"), will add about another 24h of inebriation. It's as if all the alcohol molecules sought refuge in the tasty tasty fruit.

I speak from experience both hilarious and painful. Turns out hangover is like debt: you can avoid it in the short term at a much higher cost in the long term.

#18 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 05:32 AM:

Jules @ 13: "But white wine sangria? That really is heresy. Sorry."

I don't know--sounds pretty good to me.

Oh wait.

#19 ::: lightning ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 08:02 AM:

Sangria was invented as a way of making *really bad* wine palatable. The worse the wine (especially if it's bitter), the better the sangria. Best sangria I've ever had was at a restaurant that imported its own cheap rotgut Spanish wine. Worst I've ever had was at a wedding where they used *really good* Spanish wine. The actual recipe was pretty much the same.

#20 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 09:03 AM:

lightning @ 19 - Sangria was invented as a way of making *really bad* wine palatable. The worse the wine (especially if it's bitter), the better the sangria.

That makes a lot of sense. I've always found Glühwein works the same way - use a good wine, get a crappy product, use $2 wine, it's delicious.

And I just happen to be making Sangria Blanco for a gathering this weekend. Don't try to stop me! I've got white wine and citrus fruits, and I'm not afraid to use them!

#21 ::: Stevey-Boy ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 09:26 AM:

heresiarch @ 18: It does taste good, although I've always thought of it as more of a lighter wine cooler drink.

I also substitute tequila on occasion. It provides a sharpness that really brings out the zing of the citrus.

#22 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 09:40 AM:

Melonie and others, having picked myself up, might I just say that 'peach sangria', 'white wine sangria' and such may indeed be tasty, enjoyable and refreshing warm weather alcoholic drinks (Burgundy, Tang + 7-Up … well, hmmm), but taking such a suggestion down Liverpool Street and round Sydney's Spanish Quarters while using the word 'sangria' could result in a revival of the auto da fe tradition. Or, at the least, deployment of extreme courtesy.

#23 ::: rams ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 09:58 AM:

Well, given Jim McDonald's timely flu-post and bearing in mind that the "sangre" in "sangria" is blood, could we have a white sangria if we called it NKgria? (From what you say of eating the fruit the next day the NK would even be appropriate.)

#24 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 10:22 AM:

My version of sangria is almost identical, except I strike the brandy and add triple sec. Not Cointreau or anything expensive, just plain old triple sec. It's based closely on the Cook's Illustrated version.

I also make Clerico, a.k.a. white sangria using less citrus (about 1/2 of above) and adding fresh summer fruit. We first had this in Punta del Este, Uruguay on a warm summer day and a pitcher was a lovely companion to our delicious fish lunch. Who knows if it's authentic, but it's tasty and disappears FAST at summer gatherings.

#25 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 11:23 AM:

I'm not a stickler for authenticity, obviously. But I'll be happy to call it "white wine citrus punch" if it makes folks feel better. (Much like my beloved "Christmas Cake with Fruit" - which actually is an old fruitcake recipe, from way back when they actually used fruit and not weird fluorescent gummy bits.)

(I *do* draw the line well before the bar that was selling "mojitos" that consisted of creme de menthe and Dr. Pepper, though.)

#26 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 11:45 AM:

Daniel @17: One corollary is that when you have guests who don't drink a lot, do warn them about the fruit. I've known people to make the "I'll just have some of the fruit" mistake.

On white wine-based sangria analogues (safe enough?): one good use for cheap non-oaky white wine is to mix with equal amounts of guarana (Brazilian soda based on fruit of the same name) and add brandy-soaked fruit. Extra sugar isn't necessary in this case; and it makes a good punch without the brandy too, for that matter.

My strongest sangria memory is on the prep side, not the drinking side. We threw a party at which we served (among other things) a rich lentil soup and sangria, and proceeded to go through a large amount of indifferently-stored red wine: each bottle we opened was immediately sampled and classified into one of "drink straight", "sangria", "soup", or "drain", and disposed of appropriately.

#27 ::: Neil in Chicago ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 11:46 AM:

Reminds me of the invention of Bermuda Triangle Punch, the signature drink of the Bermuda Traingle in '88 bid.
It seemed a no-brainer that since we were doing a Caribbean thing, our drink ought to be some sort of rum punch, so the trimvirate got together one night, each bringing with anything from their respective kitchens which might, possibly be an ingredient, and we experimented . . . Bill Hebel, Alexia's husband, got home later, and later said he thought we were pretty funny, but I was the one keeping notes, and my notes were functional, so there.

Our final recipe included a tip which might be useful to other experimenters. It was:
2 cans red "Five-Alive" frozen concentrate
partially re-fill the cans with rum (half to two-thirds, judgement of the bartender)
1 2-liter bottle 7-Up
*dash of tamarind concentrate*
serve into small ice-filled glasses ((portion control))

The dash of tamarind completely cuts through the syrupyness of the 7-Up, and darkens the color.

#28 ::: Phil Palmer ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 03:34 PM:

My Spanish uncle used to make Sangria for us in the sixties and seventies. Choosing the lemonade was as important as choosing the wine.

#29 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 04:29 PM:

Cat Meadors #25: I *do* draw the line well before the bar that was selling "mojitos" that consisted of creme de menthe and Dr. Pepper, though.

Two great tastes that taste great together? It's rare enough to find a drink recipe that features Dr. Pepper, though.

#30 ::: Daniel Klein ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 04:54 PM:

Now I can't stop wondering how to PROPERLY say "drinker" in Latin. Emptor seems to be a normal noun and not (at least not immediately) a verb form (or the internet doesn't know what verb it's based on). Bibere is, of course, to drink, and I do remember Nunc est bibendum (hey, those 8 years of Latin weren't ENTIRELY for nothing). But bibentor... it doesn't sound right. Anyone here actually speak Latin?

#31 ::: Dylan O'Donnell ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 08:08 PM:

bibitor is the agentive of bibere, according to the trusty online Lewis & Short.

(emptor is from emere, "to buy".)

#32 ::: Dave Langford ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2009, 06:04 AM:

I’ve never been able to persuade him to give it to me again.*

Trying to find a referent for that asterisk has left me with a painful case of footnotus interruptus.

#33 ::: Madeley ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2009, 06:51 AM:

Dave Langford @#32:

Hover your mouse over the asterisk and lo, your footnote shall appear.

#34 ::: Dave Langford ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2009, 06:57 AM:

#33: Good heavens, so it does. What will they think of next?

#35 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2009, 01:54 PM:

I once tried to do that asterisk trick, but couldn't figure it out. At one of the Farthing Parties, Teresa kindly shared the secret. (The HTML tag is "title".)

#36 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2009, 02:29 PM:

Daniel Klein@#30: Now I can't stop wondering how to PROPERLY say "drinker" in Latin.

Well, in medieval Latin, at any rate, it was potator, as in:

Meum est propositum in taberna mori,
Ut sint vina proxima morientis ori.
Tunc cantabunt letius angelorum chori:
Deus sit propitius huic potatori.

Up to you how proper you consider medieval Latin to be.

#37 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 12:45 AM:

Debra @36, or “Danger! Potatoes!!”*

[*Looks wrong however I spell it. {'title' trick don't work in comments}]

#38 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 01:33 AM:

Epacris, #37: Unlike Dan Quayle, you have it right; the penultimate E appears only in the plural form. "Tomato/tomatoes" does the same thing.

#39 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2009, 04:36 AM:

Hmm, you're right about the title trick not working...looks like the posting software strips out the HTML.

#40 ::: Sylvia ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 07:08 AM:

That'll teach me to fall behind. Have I mentioned that I live in Andalucia?

Locally, the drink is very close to what Teresa has put forward:

  • red wine (house wine although I don't think anyone here would be happy with it described as bad quality!)

  • fruit (oranges and apples, primarily)

  • spirit or spirits (this is the secret ingredient bit, suddenly you'll find the locals a bit more guarded about what they tell you)

  • lemonade as in the cheap fizzy drink - Sprite or 7-Up would be a good substitute in the US (I can imagine that once out of the local area, there would be arguments as to which lemonade but here, it's always La Casera.

Definitely no spices! And although the locals will tell you they use "whatever fruit comes to hand," I got looked at askance for adding strawberries and pineapple to a batch.

Personally, I add sugar and sparkling water instead of lemonade but other than that I don't mess much with the basics.

#41 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 11:36 AM:

By the way, I never refused to give Teresa the recipe.

#42 ::: odaiwai ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 01:58 PM:

#36, #30: "You say potator, I say bibentor, let's call the whole thing off?"

#43 ::: Punch Making Lady ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 07:26 PM:

Yum, sounds like a basic Sangria to me. Thanks for going through all of that work for the benefit of the punch loving masses --- me. :)

#44 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 10:30 PM:


If you've no objection to letting Teresa have the recipe again, would you mind sharing it with us?

I'm curious to see how well her skill at redaction served to duplicate your masterpiece.

#45 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2009, 11:35 PM:

re "lemonade": I am always amused at the idea that something like 7-Up = lemonade, as to me lemondade is lemon juice, water and sugar.

Me, I like a bit of brown sugar, but I also like a lot more lemon than most.

I might make it with soda water, on occaision, but the level of sweet is always very low.

#46 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 12:12 AM:

Terry Karney @ 45:

In the UK, and probably other places in Europe, lemonade is a fizzy drink laden with sugar, so 7-Up is a decent enough substitute if you don't have that and that's what you want. I'm not sure I've ever seen the fizzy drink variety in the US, but I haven't really looked, either.

#47 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 01:26 AM:

KeithS: I know that, and there are places here which do the same thing (it was a shock to be offered some lemonade, and be given 7-Up in Scotland. I learned it, as I learned "tonic" is generic for soda (which equals "pop", in some parts of the US), and that in Texas they will ask, "what kind of coke do you want, we got Dr. Pepper, Mountain Dew and Pepsi."

But the lemonade one is the hardest to wrap my head around, because, for me, they are variations on a theme, and lemonade isn't.

#48 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 01:38 AM:

Terry Karney @ 47...

Would it help to think of it as "fizzy lemonaide" ?

#49 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 01:54 AM:

Terry Karney @ 47 and xeger @ 48:

There's way too much sugar in that stuff for me to really be able to think of it as lemonade. The carbonation is purely secondary.

My boss maintains that soda should mean soda water, not fizzy drink, but I think he's given up on that bit of language change. The generic use of "coke" is the one that always gets me.

#50 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 04:14 AM:

On the generic use of proper nouns: where I grew up, these included Colgate, Kleenex, and Frigidaire. Kodak, on the other hand, was and is used as a verb for "to take a photo".

#51 ::: Sylvia ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 07:17 AM:

I never really thought about it, but my variation on the basic drink is really just to get around the lemonade issue. I add lemon juice and sugar syrup (i.e. classic lemonade) and then sparkling water (for the fizz).

I don't think it is any less sugar laden but it tastes nice.

#52 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2009, 10:30 AM:

If you've no objection to letting Teresa have the recipe again, would you mind sharing it with us?

I have no objection, but, like I told Teresa, I can't tell you the recipe because there isn't one. It's all "enough" and "until it tastes right."

Take a bunch of citrus, mostly limes and lemons and at least one orange, whatever's at the store. Cut 'em all in half, squish 'em a bit, and sprinkle on some sugar to pull out the juice. Put the fruit and juice in the big glass thing we use to make sangria, or a couple of old wide-mouth Paul Masson bottles (Paul Masson: We will sell no wine before its time. "Hey, Paul! There's a guy here with two bucks!" "It's time!") if you can't find the pitcher or haven't washed it from last time. Pour in an entire bottle of the cheapest red wine you can get. Add brandy until it tastes right (usually less than a quarter of the bottle). If you still have room in the pitcher, add more fruit. Mix by boxing. (That is, pouring from container to container. Stirring doesn't work that well.) Chill for a while, or until the hot dogs are done, whichever comes first. Serve over ice, leaving the fruit in the pitcher. Add more wine and brandy to the fruit if more people show up and you need more. If you run out of wine, send the junior ensign present to the grog shop to buy another bottle or two. Remember, the cheaper the wine the more you get. Add more fruit to get the right flavor.

Note: You can't make it if you've never had it. (Much like the Island of the Dead, a place you can't find if you've never been there.)

#53 ::: Ares Vista ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 01:25 PM:

This sounds delicious! My fiance loves sangria, can't wait to make some tonight. Thanks for sharing!

[Posted from -- JDM]

#54 ::: Xopher goes "Hmm" ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 01:48 PM:

While comment 53 itself seems legitimate enough—connected to the topic of the post, and so on—the link on the posting name is to a website advertising (and perhaps selling, didn't look at it that long) P2P sharing software.

I think a real person came here and typed this. Is it comment spam if the website is commercial, even though the comment itself is thread-relevant?

#55 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 02:15 PM:

Xopher: I'd say if the poster is posting to a _lot_ of sites, and clearly not thinking much about what he's saying, then it is, otherwise it probably isn't.

Whether that's the case here is hard to tell. A google search for links to the site in question doesn't turn up much of interest.

#57 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 03:38 PM:

So, gonna kill it?

#58 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 04:09 PM:

Nah. I just deleted the linked URL, leaving the poster's email address. I mean, hey, it was on topic....

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