Sangria always makes me think of Andy Warhol describing an encounter with Nico at a Mexican restaurant:
She was sitting at a table with a pitcher in front of her, dipping her long beautiful fingers into the sangria, lifting out slices of wine-soaked oranges.
Then I imagine how lovely those oranges must have tasted. Because really, is there anything more heavenly than fresh fruit soaked in wine? Not really, guys. It’s high time that I share a recipe for sangria on B2S, mixing it up with my favorite seasonal fruit: huckleberry – blueberry’s wilder, smaller, tarter cousin.
This weekend, like many summer weekends, I escaped the blazing isle of Manhattan to hang with my family in the Catskills. And we did something that we used to do every summer when we were kids – grabbed our buckets and set off down the road to go huckleberry picking.
For us, it’s an activity that’s nearly muscle memory. My brother, sister and I know the spots where the bushes with the most huckleberries grow. We cut into the woods and navigated through a patch of trees that my great grandfather planted nearly a century ago – that’s why they’re in rows. While I complained about bug bites and my siblings complained about me stopping every three minutes to take photos, we spotted the bountiful bushes, bent down their branches and went to work.
One of the smaller members of our squad kept demanding that we hand over all of our hard-earned huckleberries, so she could amass them in her hot pink princess jug.
But when a tiny despot is that cute, there’s no use in fighting – you will give her all of your berries.
After the pickins, we chilled out on the back porch and rewarded ourselves with a generously boozed-up sangria, full of Cointreau-soaked huckleberries and lemons (which I had soaked for a few hours).
I’m gonna be real with you, because we’re always real with each other – my cuñada (sis-in-law), who is from Spain told me, “Sista, in Spain, we never use cava for sangria.” But a slew of rando online sources seem to disagree. Truth is we may never know if the most authentic creator of sangria would have mixed hers with cava. But this recipe stays true to the basic components: wine, a splash of spirits and macerated fresh fruit. So we drank sparkling sangria in that early evening light, with cava and huckleberries and lemons and even a couple gorgeous peaches that my mom had lying around the kitchen. And dang it was good. Here’s to enjoying summer weekends a tope… Salud!
- 1 bottle cava, dry or semi-dry (“seco” or “semi-deco”) – avoid the sweet stuff
- I used Freixenet cava – a dry sparkling wine from Barcelona that’s a good quality/price for mixing. Cataluña makes a lot of great cavas, so go pop some Catalan bottles! Another brand I recommend is Juve y Camps.
- 1 lemon, sliced thin
- 1 – 2 cups huckleberries
- + add any seasonal fruit you’d like!
- 100 ml Cointreau (other options: cognac or Grand Marnier)
- Have your cava chilling in the fridge way ahead of time. Sparkling wine should never be cooled in the freezer because freezing could destroy the carbonation. And don’t even ask me about ice. No.
- Drop your fruit into a jar or pitcher. Add the Cointreau, stir gently and refrigerate for 3-5 hours. Planning ahead is important because you want to soak the fruit long enough for the fresh fruit flavor to permeate every drop of your sangria, but not too long – you don’t want the fruit to disintegrate or the rinds to make your sangria bitter. For more resilient fruits, like oranges, lemons and apples, feel free to soak the fruit up to overnight (in an airtight container), but no longer than that. For soft fruits like peaches, raspberries and blueberries, a few hours is enough to spread the fruit flavor throughout the liquid without the fruit disintegrating. Make sure you add enough booze to totally cover the fruit (or cut it with water and ice if you’re having a day party and don’t want your guests to get crunk).
- When ready to serve, pour your now-boozy fruit mixture into a large pitcher. Pop the bottle, pour on the cava (tilting the pitcher at an angle so as not to kill the bubbles right away).
- Stir and serve in individual glasses, using a spoon to scoop a little of each fruit into each glass.
*Note: if you want to use white wine, mix it with the fruit and Cointreau ahead of time and let the fruit soak it in. Then, right before serving, add 1/2 liter of club soda.