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Red Sangria

Question: “Hey, wasn’t there at least one other contributor to this blog?”

Answer: Well, yes. The answer is yes. And my defense is this: I have just found myself up to my eyeballs in sangria. That’s not exactly true. But I have found myself, as the weather improves, experimenting with a couple different sangria recipes.

Sangria is a drink that I (and all of Spain) believe is the quintessential summer cocktail. Icy cold, fruity, and refreshing, Sangria should be in everyone’s summer cocktail arsenal. As a wine lover, and lover of most things Spanish, I thought it was high time to make some of my own. I had some ideas in mind, but wanted to cross check my ideas against a “traditional” Spanish sangria recipe. Whether or not my search on the internets, this vast series of tubes we find ourselves tangled in, led to an actual traditional recipe, I do not know. But it did yield a few guiding points. My initial instincts were not way off. Here is what I was thinking …

Take a bottle or two of a youngish Spanish wine … why youngish? Well, I wanted a wine that was more fruit forward and possessed less oak. My two favorite Spanish varietals are Tempranillo (grown in the north of Spain) and Garnacha (the “workhorse” grown all over Spain, pretty much). I selected one of my favorite, inexpensive garnachas, Monte Oton from Aragón. Once my wine was selected, I consulted a good friend of mine in the wine department about an ingredient, besides brandy, that would make my sangria really pop. I told her I was anti bubbles, so that ruled club soda out. She suggested gin. Gin is probably my favorite spirit, so, I was all over this suggestion. She also suggested that I leave any citrus juice out, as that can cloud the finished product. She instead, suggested I use the zest of any citrus I was thinking of using.

So, I had my wine picked out, I was armed with a few new pointers, and I was on my way to making a (hopefully) delicious and refreshing sangria. I picked up two bags of frozen mixed berries, a couple of gala apples, an orange, lime, and lemon. Once I was home, I began preparing the fruit. I chopped the apple into pieces that were of similar size to the average sized strawberry from the bags of mixed berries. I zested some of the orange and lemon. I added 3oz. each of gin (had Tanqueray on hand), brandy (Cognac to be exact), a splash of Cointreau, Chambord, and Navan (a vanilla infused cognac). I had wanted to let the fruit set with the alcohol for several hours, but I was so anxious to try this concoction, that I doubt it set for more than 20 minutes. I added the wine and into the fridge it went … for minutes, not hours.

The June sun was out, the deck, drenched in warm light. I anxiously pulled the pitcher from the fridge. I grabbed a pint glass and a spoon. I poured the deeply colored libation into my glass and spooned in some of the delicious fruit. Since the berries were frozen, they acted as ice (who needs ice in wine, anyway???).

It was love at first sip. Maybe not sweet enough for some, but I found that the addition of Cointreau and Navan added enough sweetness, along with the fruit, for me. The gin added some lovely herb notes. The wine paired with the fruit very well. It acted as the perfect red canvas for this liquid artistry. I’m not gonna lie (and this is not saying that I think I make the best sangria ever), but, I could have consumed the whole pitcher in one sitting. It’s like the most dangerous fruit punch you’ll ever drink.

Sangria!

It is summer. Ice cold beers should not be the only beverage you reach for. Take some initiative and make yourself up a pitcher of sangria. The fruit you use is completely up to you. The wine is, like I said, a red canvas for liquid artistry, but in case you are not feeling as gung ho, here is my recipe …

Sangria

2 bottles of red wine (again, I used a garnacha … the only wine I would warn against using is Cabernet Sauvignon. Too oaky)

3oz. brandy

3oz. gin

1oz. Cointreau or triple sec

1/2oz. Navan

splash of Chambord (just to help the berries)

2 bags of frozen mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)

2-4 apples, chopped (I used gala)

1 t. orange zest

1 t. lemon zest

Combine fruit and all alcohol, except wine in pitcher. Feel free to let this mix infuse, but beware its charm! Add wine and stir. Again, feel free to let it set for hours … but, it will be hard not to want to tear into this drink right away! Once it has set for as long as you deemed appropriate, spoon fruit into glasses, and pour. Garnish with a slice of orange or lemon, or both, and enjoy!

Salud!

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Alto Almanzora Este 2007 Red Table Wine

“Move over Las Rocas, there’s a new smash hit value in town. Outstanding ripeness and concentration, with notes of black cherry, black currants, mocha and a savory coffee note. This is a must buy by the case.” — Wine Library

Este de Bodegas Alto Almanzora

I thought that this quote from the Wine Library was an appropriate way to begin this post on Alto Almanzora Este. If you’ve read this blog, you know that we here at Roused love our wine … more specifically, we love our red wine … even more specifically, we love Las Rocas. I’ve always been a sucker for Spanish reds, so I am constantly on the lookout for the next amazing and cheap Spanish wine … not to replace Las Rocas by any means, for that cannot be done, but to broaden the scope of delicious Spanish reds our house enjoys. I recently ventured outside of my home Whole Foods to the Roosevelt Square location … so glad I did. Their wine department is much larger than my store. I immediately found two wines that caught my eye. One of these wines was one called Monan, another Spanish garnacha that will most likely make an appearance here at some point, the other wine was Alto Almanzora Este.

Andalucia

I’ve since been back for another bottle (already gone, so I’ll be headed back again soon), but from the first sip, I knew that Las Rocas had a new brother to play with. Este is pretty great. The winery is located in Andalucia, a region in the southeast of Spain. The label of Este depicts a pregnant Andalusian mare, which is a tip of the cap to the unique and beautiful horse native to the region (and some of the most beautiful horses in the world), the rich history of the region, and the fertility of the land. A blend of 45% Monastrell/Mourvèdre, 25% Tempranillo, and the remainder being rounded out with Syrah, Garnacha, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon, I was instantly reminded of Bogle Phantom … maybe it was the blend being somewhat similar, but it was more from the big blackberry and cherry notes along with pepper, oak, spice, smoke, and even some dark chocolate. Este gets its oaky depth from being aged a combined 6 months in both French and American barrels. Despite being a full bodied wine, it drinks easy. I feel like this is a product of each varietal that builds the blend working in perfect harmony with the next to create a depth and mellowness that is mindblowing. Monastrell, which tends to be tannic on it’s own, becomes more easy and deep when blended with Garnacha, which features spice and berry notes. Tempranillo introduces some herbaceous and tobacco qualities. Syrah brings some dark fruit and pepper to the party. What little merlot enters the blend balances the tannins of the cabernet sauvignon and offers plum and currant notes. Cab Sauv loves oak and lends more herbaceousness and peppery notes to round out this astounding blend. And oh yeah, have I mentioned that this bottle is less than $10?

Alto Almanzora Este 2007

Go find it … buy it … open it … you will love it.