WFAEats: Sangria Season In The Carolinas

Jul 19, 2019

When it’s too hot to lift anything heavier than a cold glass to your parched lips, it’s officially summer sangria season. With lower alcohol content than many cocktails (and even alcohol-free for those who wish), this pleasant concoction of wine, fruit, and bubbles is at home everywhere from picnics to parties. Sure, lots of restaurants serve sangria, but it’s easy to make your own.

The name sangria is derived from "sangre," meaning blood in Spanish, and it points to the deep red color of the beverage. Its origin isn’t entirely clear: There are also Caribbean versions called sangaree. No matter where it started, there are lots of creative and simple ways to do it yourself. You don’t even need a recipe.

Here’s the basic formula:

• Wine.

• Fruit.

• Carbonation.

That’s it. If you want to embellish it, you can add:

• Spirits or liqueurs.

• Herbs or aromatics.

• Spices.

Really, the are countless combinations of wine, fruit, spirits and flavorings that you can concoct, and most of them will taste pretty good. As a result, people have created actual recipes for red, white and rosé versions that contain vanilla beans, basil, limoncello and peppers — although not all together, we hope. 

Whatever you do, don’t try to pass off your own sangria as “authentic.” If you've been adding fruit and spices to wine and proffering it as sangriaanywhere other than Spain or Portugal,you're technically violating a European Union labeling law. It states you must qualify the name with the origin of your concoction. That means what we serve here in the U.S. is technically American sangria. If you drink it in Montreal, that’s Canadian sangria, and so forth.

And that got us to thinking: With all the abundance in our region, we need a Carolina sangria to show off. So, here’s a quick recipe to highlight our seasonal flavors.

In a punch bowl, mix one bottle of muscadine or scuppernong wine with a cup or more of blueberries, blackberries and cubed peaches. Add a bottle of sparkling water, a spoon or two of local honey and a splash of rum or whiskey from one of North Carolina’s small batch distilleries. For a nonalcoholic version, replace the wine with brewed iced tea.

Now, don’t you feel just a little bit cooler already? Enjoy!

Amy Rogers writes WFAEats, a fun adventure where we explore all things tasty and tackle the meatier side of the food scene in and around Charlotte.