Drink of the Week: Sangria (large batch)

If you’re hosting a summer barbecue and want to serve a signature cocktail that pairs well with burgers but won’t get your friends stinking drunk, opt for sangria.

I learned my lesson after mixing up a truly lethal (however delicious) rum punch for a fundraiser last spring. I decided since I was hosting this party at my house (instead of the community hall) and I was parenting-while-entertaining, it served my interests (and those of my friends, neighbours and of course, the children) to scale back on the booze. The result: a delicious red wine sangria.

Does the dispenser look familiar? In a former life it served rum punch.

This sangria is refreshing and fruity, but not too sweet. The brandy adds oomph and the juices just the right combo of tart (cranberry and lemon) and sweet (pineapple). The great thing about sangria is you can play around with it to your liking and add fruit chunks that fit your fancy. If you’re brave you can even enjoy the fruit the following day as a sort of “hair of the dog” yukaflux fruit salad.

I am happy to report the sangria went over swimmingly. The only “sangricident” happened when a nine-year-old neighbour poured himself a nice big cup of the concoction (he thought it was punch). Thank goodness it wasn’t rum punch!

Sangria (to mix in an 11-litre dispenser or extra-large punch bowl)

  • 4 bottles (750 mL x 4) red or white wine (always use a wine that you would drink on your own — we used a Peter Lehmann Layers blend, red, 2009)
  • 1 bottle (750 mL) St. Remy VSOP brandy
  • 16 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 12 cups chopped fresh fruit, divided (see cook’s note)
  • 64 oz fruit juice: cranberry and pineapple for red sangria; pineapple and grapefruit for white sangria
  • Soda water topper

Set aside 2 cups of the chopped fresh fruit to add to cups as a garnish. Mix all remaining ingredients in the dispenser and top with soda water to add a light spritz. Pour over ice in a cup then dollop in some of the reserved chopped fruit.

Cook’s note: Use fruit that will absorb and impart flavours, such as apples, oranges, lemons, limes, strawberries and even cucumbers.

— Recipe adapted from a Vin Room Sangria recipe

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