I’ve always liked the idea of sangria. It’s festive and pretty and if I’m having a glass, it usually means it’s warm outside and/or there are Spanish nibbles in arm’s reach, all of which I’m very fond. The unfortunate reality? Pitchers of red wine + brandy + loads of sugar often add up to one pounding headache. So what’s a señorita to do?
I shared another shrub recipe last summer; both summer quenchers harness the layered tartness of vinegar to spruce up a temperate base. (It still sounds strange, I know, but vinegar’s distinctive acidity will blend in harmoniously and add notes of wine-like complexity.) A few dashes of orange bitters provide even more interest, and with a touch of sweetness (not nearly as much as a traditional sangria) and fizzy seltzer, you have a refreshing, cheery beverage that can hold its own against any boozy version, minus the headache. And that’s a sangria I can truly love.
adapted from Homemade Soda by Andrew Scholss, 2011; makes about 12 servings
- one quart unsweetened grape juice
- 3/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons superfine sugar, more or less to taste
- two large navel oranges
- two limes
- 2 peaches or apples, diced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons orange bitters (optional)
- 3 liters seltzer or sparkling mineral water (plain or flavored)
Add the grape juice, vinegar, bitters and sugar to a pitcher. Juice one orange and one lime; add to the pitcher. Cut the second lime into rounds and stir into the juice mixture. Cut the second orange in half and slice into half-moons or triangles as is your preference. With a wooden spoon, muddle the citrus a bit into the sangria base. Stir in the peaches or apples. Taste and sweeten with more sugar, if needed. Chill the sangria base for at least half an hour.
To serve, pour one cup of seltzer or mineral water into a red wine glass. Top off with the sangria mixture, and spoon a bit of fruit into each glass.
Note: Bitters do contain a negligible amount of alcohol (slightly more than vanilla extract per teaspoon). You can substitute whatever bitters you have on hand.