Winter Spice Sangria
Reputation-wise, sangria tends to get the short end of the stick. Wine enthusiasts often think of this boozy punch as fun and fruity instead of complex and serious — a drink that can stand alone on its merits only if the merits in question are “refreshing” and “great for a beach party.”
We think this ignoble distinction is unfair and unearned. A thoughtful sangria has depth, complexity and richness — and it is tart, sweet and spicy all at the same time. And if it’s also refreshing and great for a casual party, so much the better! Done well, it’s a drink that can be savored for its nuanced flavor as well as simply enjoyed for how easy it goes down.
For our Winter Spice Sangria, we used only citrus, pears and apple — as opposed to throwing in the whole kitchen sink of grapes and berries — so the fruit wouldn’t overpower the wine cocktail and aromatics. The syrup is a perfect balance of sweet and spicy, and the hefty use of alcohols makes this sangria taste like a complex cocktail versus a sweetened wine. We used Chianti, and its dry and slightly smoky notes were a perfect pairing with the fruit and spicy syrup.
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
For the spiced syrup:
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
4 star anise pods
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
½ teaspoon whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1-inch slice of fresh ginger
For the sangria :
One 750 ml bottle dry red wine, such as Chianti, Grenache or Syrah
½ cup fresh orange juice
½ cup light rum
¼ cup brandy
¼ cup Cointreau or Triple Sec
2 navel oranges, peeled, halved, seeded and thinly sliced
1 lime, peeled, halved, seeded and thinly sliced
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and thinly sliced
1 Bartlett pear, cored and thinly sliced
1 ½ cups club soda
Ice cubes, for serving
- To make the syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the water, sugar, star anise, peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon sticks and ginger. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
- Boil until reduced by half and thickened, about 15 minutes. Let the spice syrup cool, then strain into a glass jar. Note: The spice syrup can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.
- To make the sangria: Pour the red wine into a 3-quart pitcher. Stir in the orange juice, rum, brandy, Cointreau and ¼ cup of the spice syrup.
- Taste and add more syrup if you prefer a sweeter sangria.
- Add the sliced oranges, lime, apple and pear, and refrigerate overnight. Note: The sangria can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.
- Stir in the club soda before serving. Serve the sangria in tall glasses over ice. Garnish with the sliced fruit.
Recipe adapted from: Food & Wine