A pitcher of sangria contains a fusion of flavors and ingredients—and makes for an ideal warm-weather sipper. The punch-like drink combines red or white wine, juices, spirits, a splash of soda, and chopped fruits. And this thirst-quencher has a lot going for it: the sweetness is a delicious counterpoint to spicy foods, it’s an easy-to-make party drink, and come summertime, the beverage tastes so right alongside seafood and salad.
Some think sangria originated more than a century ago in southern Spain. And while the origins of the drink aren’t clear, folklore fills in the gaps. Maybe a Spanish housewife needed to throw a libation together for guests using what she had in the pantry at the time. Or perhaps, because southern Spain’s red wines once tasted inferior, a clever mixologist added fruits and flavorings to make a more palatable concoction. Spaniards first brought the drink stateside in 1964, where it was served at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. It’s been well-liked—even trendy—in the United States ever since.
There are endless combinations of ingredients that can make a tasty batch of sangria. At Añejo Mexican Bistro in Falmouth, the red sangria made with fresh-squeezed juices is kicked up with tequila. It’s a cooling match with the restaurant’s robust Mexican street food standards. Co-owner Jesse Kersey grew up near San Francisco and brought his passion for Cal-Mex foods to Cape Cod. “The sweetness of sangria is a really nice complement to the spiciness in our food,” Kersey says.
The raw bar at Corazon del Mar, a Latin-inspired restaurant on Nantucket, often brims with briny oysters from Wellfleet and sweet and plump bivalves from the waters that surround Barnstable. Well-chilled white sangria is a delicious partner for the seafood, and bartenders assemble a version using Vinho Verde—a tart and citrusy Portuguese wine with green apple flavors and a slight effervescence—and add orange liqueur and brandy. “The flavors from the sea works so well with light sangria and its fresh fruits,” says restaurant manager Katie Foringer.
It’s easy to brew up a batch of sangria for a last-minute dinner party. And when the pitchers are empty, you’ll be left with a bonus: fruit to nibble on.
Ann Trieger is a freelance writer from the Boston area.