Sassy sangria from scratch

I just poured a new concrete patio in my backyard and I may end up regretting the “concrete” part. It’s hot as hell back there in the middle of the day (a fire last fall inspired Xcel Energy to chop down the only tree in the back yard in order to “re-hang” wires). Concrete, in case you didn’t know, conducts heat.

What’s all this got to do with wine? A lot. I like a Sangria when it’s too darn hot, but a few of my compadres insist upon wine – just wine – no fruit or simple syrup or Grand Marnier or ice cubes. So what to serve when it comes to the summertime wines, known for their distinct crispness, their refreshing lightness?

There are a few things to remember about wine drinking in high temps: Reds are not anti-summer and Chardonnay is not the only white wine in the game. A Pinot Noir, for example, is a great grilling red because it can handle burgers, brats and beef, but isn’t too big for chicken or seafood or even a chilled soup.

And Rosés, that sort of “wine bridge” between reds and whites, is a fruity, light favorite for pairing with any cold dish, including salads, fruits and cheeses, and even as a light dessert wine.
If it’s got to be white and you want to take a break from the ever-dependable Chardonnay, try a Pinot Gris or a Sauvignon Blanc. Washington and Oregon produce very drinkable Pinot Gris and Spain and Chile can be depended upon for memorable Sauvignon Blancs, as well as interesting and very reasonably priced Syrahs and Pinot Noirs.

Spain and Chile, by the way, may be the best kept wine value around. They each host boutique vineyards and neither got into the marketing game with the same relish as France and Italy, so wines from both countries are often remarkably low cost, but just as good.

But what if you just have to have a big, icy drink, the kind made in a tumbler with more ice than liquid, the kind that instinctively make you hold your glass against your neck to give you the illusion of cooling off? I say Sangria all the way, the larger the tumbler the better. But make sure it’s not some sugary, commercial glop. Build it from scratch, make the delicious stuff that is legit, that requires a 24 hours in advance prep, the kind that must be chilled in a lovely ceramic pitcher to bring out its resonating, sparkling qualities.

I know just the Sangria. It’s a recipe honed and created by a Louisiana gal that knows her food and her Sangria. She’s experimented with this concoction, tweaked it here and there over the years, and crafted a mix so dependable, you find yourself aching for a hot July day when it’s still March – just because you want a good excuse to make it.

And for those friends of yours who don’t want the Sangria, but insist upon a simple, light wine? Fine. Stock your wine rack with the affordable light wines that pair well with a grilled salmon steak.

That’s all the more Sangria left for you.

From Argonaut Wine & Liquor – Sheila Carrey, wine buyer recommends the following “Summertime Wines” – all very reasonably priced:

2009 Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc, $13.99
2007 Gunn Estates Marlborough Unoaked Chardonnay, $14.99
Coppola Rosé, $14.99
Francios Montand Brut Rosé, $14.99
Muga Rosé, $14.99

Secret “Louisiana” Sassy Sangria Recipe

Prepare the day or evening before serving

2 chilled bottles inexpensive red wine (dry Beaujolais or from Spain’s Rioja region)
¼ to ½ c. Grand Marnier Liquor
2 oranges
1 Granny Smith apple
1 pear
1 lemon
1 liter cold club soda
chipped ice
Simple syrup:
1 c. sugar, 1c. water – dissolve together over a medium-low heat until clear; cool completely

Mix wine and simple syrup together. Add Grand Marnier and squeeze the juice of one orange into the mix. Slice and add the second orange, the apple and the pear. Squeeze about two tablespoons of juice from the lemon into the mix and add two slices of the lemon. Chill 24 hours. Pour into goblets filled with ice, leaving about ¼ of goblet empty. Top with club soda and slightly stir.

Word o’ the Week

Zurracapote (or “Zurra”): A term used to refer to Sangria in southern Spain and in other Spanish-speaking regions

One Winning Wine Tasting

Balistreri Vineyard and Dream Italia Annual Movie & Wine Night

On Saturday, June 26, at 7:30 p.m., Balistreri Vineyards will host their Annual Movie & Wine Night, featuring the movie, Life is Beautiful (La Vita è Bella) by Roberto Benigni.

Tickets include Balistreri wine, special movie menu and film showing, all “under the stars” at beautiful Balistreri Vineyards. The winery is located at 1946 E. 66th Avenue in Denver. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the movie begins at 9 p.m. Tickets are $38. Call Balistreri Vineyards at 303.287.5156 or visit for further information.

Go here for a “Smilebox” slide show with movie still photos created by Dream Italia.

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