Few cultures are as advanced in the art of relaxed socializing as the Spanish. It would be silly not to accept guidance on how to better enjoy life from a society where a mid-day nap is encouraged on a national level. Many Spanish businesses open and close late, with a scheduled break in the afternoon to avoid oppressive heat in the summer months. As a result, friends meet up at cafes and socialize late into the cool summer evenings while sharing tapas and a pitcher of sangria, one of Spain’s most beloved beverages. A refreshing mix of wine, brandy, sweetener and fresh fruit, sangria has been bringing people together for centuries. And, despite tradition, there are plenty of variations in the recipe depending on who makes it. Many Spanish establishments choose to keep it simple, yet delicious, by serving a variation called Tinto de Verano, which is red wine, ice and lemon soda.
It’s easy to see why such an appealing beverage has caught on in America. It’s sweet, it’s delicious, and it easily adapts to fit any occasion. Sangria made its first official debut in the States at the 1964 New York’s World Fair, and has been evolving to meet the tastes of American palates ever since. It’s not uncommon to find signature sangria recipes (like tropical pineapple coconut or caramel apple) at bistros around the country. But you don’t need to go out on the town to enjoy this refreshing treat! It’s easy to make at home and personalize it to your unique tastes.
Now that warm weather is on its way, and with it, dreams of long sunny days and sandals, outdoor gatherings are back on our social calendars. There’s no better way to welcome the return of warm weather than hosting a party and inviting your friends over to watch the sunset while you plan your adventures for the season ahead. Put a new spin on your next gathering and do it Spanish style with sangria and tapas.
Want to step it up a notch? Throw a make-your-own-sangria party! It’s easier than you think. Here are the easy steps to hosting the most enjoyable evening you and your friends will have all season:
First things first.
Traditionally, sangria is made with red wine, but feel free to get creative! If your friends prefer white wine, sparkling, or even simply juice, it’s best to provide plenty of options. Chill each bottle before the party, so that a lot of ice cubes are not a necessity (adding too many can water down the flavor).
Next comes the liquor.
Brandy is the most common mixer in Spanish sangria, but don’t limit yourself to tradition. If you’re feeling inspired, rum and flavored vodkas make good alternatives. Additionally, lemon juice, ginger ale, sparkling water, or even flavored seltzer will add a boost to any drink. Have a few different options on hand so that each friend’s tastes can be satisfied!
Time for fruit!
Invite your friends to bring their favorite fruits to share. Offer suggestions like grapes, diced apples, orange slices, assorted berries, or even melon balls. Additionally, having a checklist to help you and your guests plan properly doesn’t hurt. Variety is key, and if everybody shows up with platters of strawberries, it wouldn’t be much of a party!
Mix and match.
Do you like your drinks tart and refreshing? Choose lemon juice, sparkling wine, and raspberries. Not a huge fan of wine? Keep it alcohol-free with white grape juice, ginger ale, and peach slices. The best part of a make-your-own-sangria party is mixing and matching all the ingredients into a personalized masterpiece. It’s helpful to keep in mind that most sangria recipes you will find are meant for groups, not single servings. To keep things simple and safe, use 1 cup wine, ½ ounce liquor, ½ cup mixer (like ginger ale or juice), and all the fruit you want. Usually sangria is covered and left to steep in a refrigerator for a few hours to let the flavors mingle, but in the interest of time, feel free to skip (or shorten) this step.
Don’t forget to garnish!
With its vibrant colors and frosty pitchers, sangria doesn’t need any help looking enticing and tasting delicious. But there’s never a bad time for a little extra dash of flavor and flourish, and a garnish provides the perfect finishing touch. Sprigs of rosemary, mint leaves, honey, or cinnamon sticks are just what your glass wants to look complete. Ice cubes and straws will also come in handy, so have them on stand-by.
Top it all off with tapas.
You can’t have a party without food! In Spain, sangria is almost always accompanied by small snacks meant for sharing called tapas. Marinated olives, papas bravas (potatoes, diced and fried), sautéed shrimp, or meat kebabs are all relatively easy ways to keep stomachs from grumbling without taking away from the Spanish theme.
Now that you have all the things you need for the perfect outdoor party – friends, sangria, and tapas – you’re well-equipped to celebrate the arrival of summer and savor every moment, Spanish style. Happy sipping!