Sangria: A Story of Authenticity

Around this time last year, I bought a cup of pistachio gelato. This was no ordinary cup of gelato. According to its Sicilian creator, this very cup would, and I quote, “unleash the whole truth on the authentic pistachio”. I tried it, but as a non-Italian, non-gelato-making, pistachio novice, I was unable to verify whether it lived up to its reputation. Being well versed in deliciousness, however, I can verify that it was tasty. And so, I trust, I came into contact with the real deal, the authentic pistachio.

Today’s sangria comes with a similar story. My friend Catalina, source of the recipe, told me that it was the real thing. Not knowing what the real thing was, I asked. She told me this: Since moving to her adopted country of Canada, she’s only ever encountered syrupy sangria, filled with soft fruits like strawberries that go mushy under the wine. Then, while on a detour from an educational adventure in France to visit her family in Spain, she came across this recipe, barely bubbling and full of citrus and stonefruit. On tasting it, she was reminded of the refreshing, barely sweet sangria of her native Colombia. The real sangria. Enamoured, she agreed to the bar keeper’s terms of never revealing the recipe for financial gain, and the recipe was hers.

sangria-steps.jpg

Though I’ve made and sampled sangria a fair few times, I’d never considered the truth of the drink and had never claimed to have found the real thing. But the imported Spanish recipe that Catalina kindly agreed to share with us is easily the most refreshing sangria I’ve encountered. And when the culinary stars align to bring you a recipe verified by intercontinental sampling experience, you adjust your benchmark: when I think sangria, I’ll be thinking of this.

Fortunately, the execution of the recipe is nowhere near as complicated as the story of origin. Sturdy fruits are combined in a pitcher with lemon soda, gin, vermouth, cinnamon bark and red wine. The blend is left to sit until the flavours meld and, as Catalina says, the fruit is drunk (you’ll know, upon tasting the fruit, whether they’re inebriated).

The original recipe is meant to be made with peaches in addition to the apples and citrus, and consumed under the Spanish sun with stacks of golden, fried and honeyed eggplant rounds. While you wait for peaches to come into season and for your home country to turn into Spain, citrus and apples will do just fine. And feel free to substitute citrus juice for the soda – Catalina tells me it’s OK and, like I said, she’s the expert.
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Catalina’s Real Sangria
Via the lovely Catalina
Makes ~ 2 litres

Ingredients
3 pieces of fruit, sliced thin (I used an apple, an orange and a lemon, but stonefruit works too)
4 sticks of whole cinnamon
1 oz gin
1 oz vermouth
1 litre of lemon soda or citrus juice (or some combination of the two)
1 litre of red wine*
Sugar to taste (optional, and I opted out without consequence!

Directions

In a large (2+ litre) pitcher, combine all of the ingredients, stirring to blend. Let sangria sit in the fridge for 4+ hours, until the flavours have melded and the fruit has absorbed a good dose of alcohol. Serve chilled!

*For tips on choosing a sangria-friendly red or white, and for general tips on making sangria, check out this article. I’ll be giving this recipe a shot with white wine soon and will report back, but feel free to blaze the trail and let me know how it goes!

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