It is almost impossible to consider a day in summertime South Jersey without fruit. Everywhere you look, supermarket, farm stand, convenience store, newspaper ads, restaurant menus, local fruit of some sort is featured.
Of course it is. What’s the point of living proximal to farmland if the — er — fruits of that land are not taken advantage of.
Now, as far as I know, the Spaniards did not discover and colonize our state, but you can thank them for one of the most entertaining ways to enjoy fruit harvests. They plunked fresh fruit chunks into red wine and gave the world sangria.
It’s like a fruit cocktail party only much more versatile and intriguing to be relegated strictly to cocktail time. Sangria is typically, but not necessarily, citrus, red wine, more fruit to your liking, and one or more other liquids to round out the taste.
Traditionally served over ice from glass pitchers into tall glasses, it can be quite sweet or quite dry or non-alcoholic at all. It’s like the punch at a party, but with more happy-go-lucky attitude.
Try any of the three recipes below for any occasion that calls for a little joie de vivre.
Citrus-y and summery and easy
1 750 ml bottle of red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Shiraz)
1 Lemon cut into wedges
1 Orange cut into wedges
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Shot brandy
2 C ginger ale or club soda
Pour wine in the pitcher and squeeze the juice wedges from the lemon and orange into the wine. Toss in the fruit wedges (leaving out seeds if possible) and add sugar and brandy. Chill overnight. Add ginger ale or club soda just before serving. Tip: If you want to serve right away, use chilled red wine and serve over lots of ice. Note: Sangria is meant to be versatile, so go ahead, add your choice(s) of sliced strawberries, diced peaches, a handful of fresh blueberries, raspberries, kiwi slices, a shot or two of gin, or brandy or rum, a cup of citrus soda or some fresh squeezed lime juice. The more the merrier! Yields 6-8 servings.
SPARKLING SUMMER SANGRIA
A fruit full red, white and blue treat
1 C quartered small strawberries
1 C cherries, pitted and halved
1 nectarine, peeled and chopped
1 C blueberries
1 C raspberries
1/3 C brandy
1-1/2 C peach nectar, chilled
1 (750-milliliter) bottle sparkling white wine, such as Cava, chilled
In a large glass or ceramic pitcher, combine the strawberries, cherries, nectarine, blueberries, raspberries, and brandy, and chill for at least 2 hours. Stir in the peach nectar and white wine. Serve immediately over ice. Makes 8 glasses.
GOLDEN SPARKLING SANGRIA
Sweet with a refreshing tint of mint
3 C white grape juice, chilled
1/2 C orange liqueur, such as Cointreau
1/4 C superfine or granulated sugar
3 Tbls honey
1 medium nectarine, pitted and chopped
1 navel orange, peeled, quartered and thinly sliced
3/4 C fresh or frozen sweet cherries, pitted and halved, or canned mandarin orange sections, drained
3/4 C fresh golden or red raspberries
1/2 C fresh basil leaves
1/2 C fresh mint leaves
1 750 milliliter bottle sparkling white wine, chilled
Use a large pitcher or glass jar and combine grape juice, orange liqueur, sugar, and honey in it, stirring until sugar and honey dissolve. Stir in nectarine, orange, cherries, raspberries, basil, and mint. Chill mixture for 1 hour or up to 24 hours, stirring occasionally. Just before serving, add sparkling wine to the fruit mixture. Serve in glasses over ice. Makes 8 glasses.
Nonalcoholic version: Prepare as above, but substitute orange juice for the orange liqueur and sparkling water or club soda for the white wine.