sangria, and the pitchers they live in.
The truth is, sangria was a recipe that landed on my blog a few years ago. I make it often, as it adds a festive punch (ah, love the puns) to any meal. AND since I am in Italy, it is an appropriate twist on a weekday table wine.
Besides tasting lovely, it is a great way to stretch one's budget. Seriously. I buy relatively inexpensive, fruity table wine, then add the remainder of the ingredients (sample pictured above). See the recipe, below. But I want to emphasize this: you can play around with the ingredients. I often take my initial sangria recipe and then substitute like crazy. I aim for the same proportions of wine, make sure to add brandy, have been known to throw in a little triple sec and although I like to add a fresh orange, orange juice works just fine. As for the cassis soda, that isn't always easy to find. Good substitutes are berry, raspberry or blackberry soda (I usually steer clear of pomegranate and traditional cherry, b/c they have a bit of a medicinal quality; blueberry can be overwhelming). I have also just put in berry juice and a splash of club soda.
SANGRIA 1 bottle of Beaujolais (or other fruity, inexpensive red wine) 1 bottle sparkling cassis soda 1-2 oranges 1 tiny bottle brandy (2 oz) Small bag of berries: blackberry, currant, cranberry, raspberry (frozen works) Optional: 2-3 plums, bunch black grapes.
To assemble: pour wine, soda, juice of one orange, 1 orange sliced into thin rounds, brandy and berries in large glass flask or decanter. Optional: add 1-2 T sugar to taste, stir to blend. Can be made 1-2 hours in advance; serve at room temperature.
AND making sangria suits my new collection. I have been peeking at the gorgeous Tuscan glazed pottery; there are beautifully painted pieces in tourist shops in almost any city. Cities and regions have their own pottery, their unique design. In the first few weeks here, I browsed. I kept wondering which motifs I would be most drawn to: roosters or olives, red poppies, paisley prints, Florentine symbols, lemons? Would I like the blues or yellows, or stick to reds and greens? Would I gravitate toward ornate or appreciate the simplicity of these vast array of designs? And all that being said, would I really want a set of plates and bowls and mugs, or just a few choice serving pieces? Perhaps a spoon to hold spoons on the stove or a clock? I kept tucking ideas and options into my mind... and then when we were playing 'tourists' in Sienna, it struck me: sangria.
So I decided (okay, it was this particular sangria pitcher that sold me on the idea), instead of buying vases or clocks or even tiny little bowls, my pottery purchases from Tuscany would be a humble collection of sangria pitchers. And by humble I mean a small gathering on a small shelf; in the end I hope to go home with 3-4 pitchers that I purchase in tiny towns across Tuscany. They will serve as a mental bookmark to our travels... as in, 'oh, I remember when I bought this.'
I love sangria, and it makes people feel special. Just for you: a wine that put on its party dress. It is an unexpected treat---and I love inserting the unexpected into dinner parties. If ever I throw a party, I can make a few batches of sangria in advance and have them at the ready (in all my new special sangria pitchers, of course).
I found a few other interesting sangria recipes around the web: