When life gives you lemons, do not make lemonade – make a cocktail. Or better still, a pitcher of sangria. Sangria is the perfect drink as it blends different elements and gives several notes for those who like a distinctive drink; it has fruit for those who like it sweet, is half wine for the winos and has brandy, which gives its heady potency.
Sangria is a Spanish wine punch, but its history goes back to the Roman Empire. Early Greeks and Romans watered down their wine and mixed it with sugar and spice and called the blend Hippocras. It was served either cold or warm as mulled wine. They would spike the Hippocras with alcohol, like brandy, so that it would be more palatable. Hippocras was taken in lieu of water as water was filled with bacteria, while milk was exclusively for babies.
A similar drink was being made in Spain; they used red wine, which was readily available, as there were plenty of vineyards. Sangria means blood, which references the red colour of the resulting drink. Though sangria is made mainly with red wine, it can be made with sparkling wine or white wine (the resulting drink is called sangria blanco).
Sangria made its way into America in 1964 during world fairs. It is a favourite, not just in America, but across the world. In Nairobi, it is fast becoming a cult favourite and is readily available in restaurants such as Big Square and Picazzo. We love to introduce you to our fizzing favourites, so we are giving you the recipe to make yummy Sangria right at home.
Feel free to play with the proportions; if you feel that a bottle of brandy, instead of half a cup, would make your sangria taste better, knock yourself out – pun intended!