When customers ask me for my favorite Sangria recipe, my customary response is that I try not to think of Sangria as a fixed recipe, but rather as a creative response to the circumstance of the moment. Sangria to me is any combination of wine, fruit and carbonation. Specific ingredients and exact proportions are of secondary importance.

For instance, last night I arrived home to discover that I had all but run out of wine.  I had a glass or two of rosado in the fridge, a half decanter of Portuguese Douro red and the remnants of a sample of new Rioja from last week. The fruit bowl in the kitchen held a few tangerines and a lemon or two along with a handful of cherries and half a basket of strawberries that were on the verge of spoiling.

My wife had also just come home from a hot day spent walking dogs in the Oakland hills (her part time job), and was hoping for a refreshing cocktail to cool her down. She eyed my bits of wine and wilting fruit with skepticism, but I was confident that I could reclaim all this uneaten food from an otherwise sad trip to the compost pile.

First, I poured all the wine into a big terracotta pitcher. Then I sliced up all the fruit and tossed it in with the wine. A few spoonfuls of sugar, the last glass of orange juice from the fridge and a bit of triple sec also went into the pitcher (okay, and a shot of tequila just to see what happened). I mixed everything up with a long wooden spoon and put the pitcher in the refrigerator to macerate for a bit. After an hour, during which time I scrounged up some potatoes and some eggs for a simple Tortilla Española, I filled two tumblers with ice, poured half a glass of soda water in each and topped them off with the wine and fruit from the fridge.

¡Ese! The perfect summer meal appeared seemingly out of thin air. A wedge of moist, warm Tortilla, a simple green salad and a glass or tw0 (or three) of improvised Sangria brought domestic bliss to the home of a hungry, tired couple.

Of course you can also plan ahead for Sangria, and at The Spanish Table we are here to help make it just as simple as can be.

Start with a book, appropriately titled Sangria: Fun and Festive Recipes by Mittie Hellmich ($14.95), that will get your creative juices flowing (so to speak) regarding the wide range of red, white and rosado Sangrias that also include unique flavorings such as fresh basil, rose petals and saffron.

Then get a big earthenware pitcher (available here in a variety of colors and sizes) and a long wooden spoon (ours are made from olive wood).

A quick trip to the produce store will get you whatever fruit is in season (again, use what you find, don’t get hung up on one particular ingredient or another).

And finally, get a couple of bottles of young, fruity wine to give your Sangria a fresh, lively character. Keep reading below for some excellent choices in Sangria wine.


Pink Wines:

Tres Ojos Rosado 2006 $7.99 We recently received a few cases of this friendly, ripe rosado from the high altitude vineyards of D.O. Calatayud in Northern Spain. This blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha displays youthful strawberry and lemon aromas and flavors. This refreshing wine is perfect for making Sangria that includes fresh berries in the mix.


Floresta Rosado 2005 $7.99 (was $10.99) This gentle rosado from D.O. Emporda-Costa Brava in Northeastern Spain is composed of mostly Garnacha with some Merlot and Cariñena added in for good measure.  Make Sangria with this wine and some white peaches and apricots for a subtle yet refreshing drink.


White Wines:

Barbadillo Palomino Fino 2006 $6.99 It’s back! The most popular white wine in Spain has returned in the new vintage. Made from the local Palomino Fino grapes, blended with a bit of Viura so I’m told, this young white wine from Cadiz in the south of Spain is refreshingly simple and bright. Add some melon and citrus and you have the makings of an excellent Sangria blanco.


Sur de los Andes Torrontés 2006 $11.99 For an Argentine version of Sangria blanco, try using this ripe, Viognier-like white wine from Mendoza. Rich, floral aromatics and peachy fruit character call out for some stone fruit and sparkling tonic water.


Red Wines:

Eguren Tempranillo 2005 $11.99 (1 Liter) My newest candidate for Sangria wine is this Tempranillo from Central Spain. Lively, red cherry fruit character, bright acidity and mellow tannins make this wine enjoyable all by itself, but this big 1 liter bottle inspires me to start slicing fruit and calling friends to come share the bounty.


Ique Malbec2005 $11.99 From Enrique Foster in Argentina, this young tank fermented Malbec is ripe and spicy. Eric Asimov recently mentioned the 2004 vintage of this wine in his wine blog for The New York Times, saying “I found this to be a really interesting wine, with aromas of fruit, flowers and licorice, and a really nice earthiness.” I think this would make a fine Sangria when combined with fresh cherries and plums.


Paella Class Update

Chef Mike C. at Kitchen On Fire cooking school in Berkeley tells me that registration for my upcoming Paella & Wine cooking class is proceeding nicely and only a few spaces are left. The date for the class is Monday June 18th and the time is 6:30pm. Here is what Kitchen On Fire says about the event:


Join Kevin Hogan from The Spanish Table to learn first-hand the joys of the Spanish rice dish known as Paella. Kevin will share his knowledge and experience in all things Paella-related. The class will include some hands-on participation to prepare a mixed poultry/meat/seafood Paella that will be consumed at the culmination of the class. Participants will also get a chance to make and sample some simple tapas while waiting for the Paella to cook. Kevin is the wine buyer for The Spanish Table in Berkeley and will be sharing some Paella-friendly wines as well. Come to class with an appetite for adventure and be rewarded with a plateful of Paella wisdom.


The class is $65.00 per person and (since it’s me teaching the class) includes a tasting of five different Spanish wines that are appropriate to the meal. To register for this exciting event, go to the Kitchen on Fire web site They will be handling all reservations for the class.


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