The Story of the Sangria

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No other drink gives us summer holiday vibes quite like the Sangria. Images of tropical paradises on the beach, under a palm tree, are only completed with a glass of the red cocktail in hand. Few other pleasures in life come close to enjoying this spiced concoction while sitting by the sea, so what’s the story?

Dreams of Sangria

To understand the motivation behind the cocktail, you need to go back to a time when water wasn’t the healthiest of beverages. In fact, it was considered unsafe to drink, while wine and beer were the preferred drinks of choice – even for toddlers and children! Of course, water purification was always being studied and researched, until it became the essential energy source that it is today.

Red Wine Concoctions

In the meantime, people began to have fun with their alcoholic drinks. In Spain, a land full of vineyards, red wine became a hot commodity, and the economy boomed as it was shipped to all areas of the world. The word ‘Sangria’ was born, but it was a blanket term for all red wine punches that were created.

One significant punch that was created featured a blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc, combined with brandy and fruit. This was particularly popular in Europe throughout the 1700s and the 1800s and was known as Claret Cup Punch – if you read Jane Austen, you will have heard of it!

The traditional blend of red wine, triple sec, sugar, cinnamon and fruit was born in 1964 at the World Trade Fair in New York. Served in the Spanish World area, it was the first true version of the drink we have come to adore today and was an instant hit!

Sangria Variations

Like all classic cocktails, bartenders just can’t leave the original recipe alone! There have been a few variations over the years, including a version that leaves out the brandy and adds in some soda. In fact, most restaurants serve their own variation of the drink, with true Sangria only guaranteed in Spain.

One common variation substitutes red wine for white and brandy for dry vermouth, for a drink known as Sangria Blanco. Some of the stronger variations also include Suze, but all are filled with lots and lots of fruit.

Not long after, a sparkling white Sangria was created in the area of Cava. The beauty of this cocktail, and indeed the history behind it almost insists upon it, is that there is no set boundaries on how it is made. You can add your own individualistic stamp upon your red wine punch, making it to your tastes for a drink that you will enjoy every time the sun peeks out from behind a cloud! However, we don’t recommend feeding it to your children – water has come a long way since then!

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Like cooking, making cocktails is a culinary art that benefits from tasting and adjusting. Before serving, taste your cocktail with a straw or spoon and adjust if necessary. Maybe it needs a touch more sweetness, a bit more acidity to brighten it up, or a dilution adjustment. Personalize each drink to your liking, and don't be afraid to stray from the recipe to create something that suits your taste perfectly.

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