My grandparents came from Spain to the United States back in the Twenties. They were farmers and fisherman — people of craft — who kept their preference for the simple life after they settled here. Abuela believed in fresh, wholesome food. Each day she would go to the market to get the freshest meats and vegetables. She rarely bought cake or made dessert, but fresh fruit and nuts were always on the table.
In the summers Abuela would make sangría and set a big pitcher of it under the apple tree. I remember the old people would sit in the shade on a hot day, sipping this wine punch. They always let me have a taste. Grandma used a lot of brandy in her sangría, and so do I. I never got the recipe, but I do know what was in their kitchen and what I saw her tossing in in the pitcher.
My grandmother, Carmen Mayobre de Galiano (La Coruña, Spain)
This is a flavorful, refreshing wine punch. It’s not sweet like what you may get from an American restaurant. Serve it outside on a hot day, under an umbrella. Sip it — it’s strong — and allow the citrus to float across your tongue.
- 1 bottle (750 ml) of inexpensive red wine
- 2 quality oranges
- 1 quality lemon
- 1 jigger Cointreau or any triple sec orange liqueur
- 2-3 jiggers of brandy
- 1/4 cup sugar
- Rind of one fresh lemon
- Rind of 1/2 fresh orange
- Halve and ream the two oranges. Strain the juice into a bowl. Reserve the rind of one of the orange halves.
- Halve and ream the lemon. Strain the juice into the orange juice bowl. Reserve the rind.
- Cut the orange and lemon rinds into long, inch-wide strips. Save one strip. Discard the rest.
- Carefully remove the white zest from each strip. The strips should be colorful and nearly translucent. Discard the white zest.
- Pour the entire bottle of wine into a pitcher.
- Add the strained citrus juices. Make sure there is no pulp.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the pitcher.
- Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
- Cover the pitcher. Store in the refrigeration at least 24 hours before serving to allow the flavors to build.
Sangría is served cold, over ice, usually in tall glasses with a slice of citrus.
I pre-chill the glasses in the freezer to make the wine extra cold.
I love limes and use them a lot, but trust me, they do not work in sangría. Spaniards sometimes will add a thinly-sliced canteloupe or peach to the punch. These must be very ripe and juicy.
You might be thinking “Hey, I have some maraschino cherries, I’ll add those, too.” PLEASE STOP RIGHT THERE! Those little red and green knobs have NO business in this sangría. That’s a Paula Deen thing to do. Spaniards would laugh at you — or weep at the desecration you served them. My advice? Throw that pickled, bleached-and-dyed pseudo-fruit in the trash. If you want to add cherries, buy some ripe, red REAL cherries, and use them instead.
More about fruit: the best oranges are dripping with flavorful juice. I have used blood oranges, but any juicy one will do. Please don’t use juice from a concentrate; it won’t be the same. My grandmother always had bags of fragrant, little lemons in her kitchen. I try to use those in this recipe if I can find them.