Spirit Cruises January 2023 Leaderboard

Summer Up Your Drinking with Sangria

Summer Up Your Drinking with Sangria

Mom always tells you, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” If cliches were editable, however, I’d suggest we replace that boring line with, “When life hands you bad wine, make sangria.”

OK, so you don’t NEED bad wine. Still, it’s nice to know that this refreshing summer staple - a traditional blend of wine, fruit and liquor from Spain - is the perfect fix for that questionable bottle collecting dust on the counter.

This history of sangria, for some reason, is murky. One thing we know is that the name comes from the Spanish word for blood, sangre. Usually made with red wine, the drink became popular during the turbulent times of the early 1800s and was drunk as a celebratory refreshment after long days of battle.

Want to celebrate something - something a little less life-threatening, we hope - yourself? Google will provide you with umpteen recipes for sangria, but you will quickly see they all are a little different. The best advice I can give is to go with favors that you know you like and have handy.

If going red, start with a more fruity wine, like a rioja from Spain or perhaps an American merlot. Pour into a pitcher and add your fruit; apples and oranges are traditional, but anything that won’t mush up instantly in the brew can be a contender. Brandy comes next, then spices. Cinnamon sticks, star anise and even cardamom pods all will add great flavor.

If you trend towards white, don’t think sangria is out of your reach. I actually prefer to citrus-y and herbal notes that you can obtain with a white base. Think the tropics. Start with something clean and fresh like sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio (avoid anything oaked), then add in melons, kiwi, peaches, star fruit or even firm berries. You can stick with the brandy, or go a little lighter with a fruity liquor, like Cointreau (orange) or Calvados (apple). Drop in sprigs of mint, rosemary or thyme for instant garden allure.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? You want a glass right now, don’t you? If you don’t have the goods on hand and or the energy to assemble them, check out one of our favorite spots around town to get some on the double.

Amada
217-219 Chestnut St., www.amadarestaurant.com
We all agree that we could drink their amazing Blanco blend by the pitcher. And it comes by the pitcher, too. How convenient....

Bar Ferdinand
1030 N. Second St., www.barferdinand.com
The traditional sangria here is perfectly balanced and goes oh-so-well with a few plates of tempting tapas.

El Vez
121 S. 13th St., www.elvezrestaurant.com
It may be a Mexican restaurant, but when did that ever stop Starr from getting creative behind the bar? Mulled for extra flavor, the red version here is sweet and strong.

Cuba Libre
10 S. Second St., www.cubalibrerestaurant.com
Got a sweet tooth? Order up the dessert-like white here, made with guarapo, a syrup made from palm trees. 


Melissa Auman Greiner is a born and bred Philly girl with a soft spot for the city's growing food and wine scenes, leafy green squares and sultry summers. Just don't get her started on the inadequacy of SEPTA. With nearly 10 years of experience covering the city for a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites, it hasn't just been her pleasure to visit Philly's best bars and restaurants -- it's been her job. And with an advanced certification from the International Sommelier Guild under her belt, she brings her city savvy and wine know-how together to deliver Drink Philly readers the latest info on Philly vino.


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