When you're deep into winter, when temperatures dip low and frost covers the ground...ok, we're in San Diego, but give us a break: it's only been in the 60s this week!  Regardless of just how cold it is where you are, this is the time of year when you start to crave the fresh and wonderful flavors of summer:  juicy red strawberries, succulent kiwis, and sweet melons.  Luckily, there's still a way to satisfy those fresh fruit cravings: by adding them to wine to make sangria.  So call up your friends, pick up some fresh fruit, and enjoy a cup of summer right here in January! Sangria, a traditional Spanish drink often served at parties, has many variations.  The recipe we give below isn't particularly traditional, but it is delicious.  Note that approximations are given rather than specific amounts: this is so you can vary the drink to your tastes.  It's a very forgiving beverage, and a little extra splash of this or that won't hurt; in fact, these variations are what make Sangria special: each batch is unique.  The best part is that you can change the fruits with the season.  The original recipe uses apples, oranges, and strawberries, but for winter, try this version with pears, apples, and tangerines.  Be creative: use whatever looks good at the market and you're sure to be happy with the result.  This is also a budget-friendly recipe; since you're sweetening the wine, quality isn't all that important. Wintertime Red Wine Sangria (This recipe makes enough for a small gathering.) Combine:
  • 2 bottles of red wine (dry, young, acidic, fruit-forward wines work best.)
  • Orange juice to taste (the sweeter you like it, the more juice you add.  Honey can be added to sweeten it up even more.)
  • Pears, Granny Smith apples, and tangerines, all cut into bite-sized pieces.  (A rough estimate: about 2-3 pears, 2-3 apples, and 4-6 tangerines, depending on their size and how much fruit you like.)
  • 1 bottle champagne (wait to add this until right before you're going to drink it to prevent it from going flat.)
  • Rum, to taste (optional)
It's best to make this ahead of time so the flavors can marry and the fruit can become infused with the wine.  It looks great in a large wine or margarita glass.  Be sure to serve this with a spoon so your guests can scoop up all of that delicious fruit!