August 31, 2012

Mixology: Slapdash Sangria

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In which our intrepid mixologist resurrects a bottle of wine via questionable cocktail necromancy.

I probably shouldn’t even be telling you this story. If I’m going to blog about alcohol I ought to maintain at least some semblance of having expertise in the subject, and the following anecdote demonstrates the exact opposite.

This summer, a friend of mine gave me a bottle of wine. It had been a whimsical, last-minute purchase on her part, and we were not even entirely sure what kind of wine it was. The only identifying information inscribed on its ostentatious pink label was, in outlandish calligraphy, the word “Bitch.” After a brief inspection and some deductive reasoning we decided it must be white wine, and (this is where the embarrassment begins) threw it in the freezer to chill.

Kids, don’t do this. Don’t put wine in the freezer. It ruins the taste, doesn’t even chill as effectively as an ice bucket, and if left too long, you run the risk not only of turning perfectly good wine into a bitter, gritty, grape-sediment slushie, but also of potentially discovering said slushie spattered all over the walls of your freezer. The latter did not happen to me, thankfully. But the former did. I completely forgot about the wine until the next weekend, and after a good twenty minutes spent hunting through every cupboard, my friend clapped her hand to her heart and said, “Freezer.”

It was right where we’d left it, of course. When we opened it, we discovered that it was red wine – a Grenache, to be exact, by the Australian company R Wines – and frozen nearly solid. I scooped out half a glass, sampled it, and decided there was no way we would be having a classy wine night. It tasted awful.

Thankfully, I am nothing if not eager to experiment with pouring liquids into other liquids, so I set about finding a way to remedy the situation. Red wine cocktails are few and far between, but the slender category includes one of summer’s most popular drinks — sangria. Usually it derives its punch-like sweetness from fruit that’s left to soak in it overnight, but I decided to mix the juice right in, eliminating the need to wait.

I had two kinds of juice in the fridge — white grape peach and mango nectar. I splashed a little of both of these into the glass, gave it a swirl and sampled. Not bad. With the addition of an ice cube and a slice of lemon, it could almost have passed for a legitimate cocktail.

I’m too embarrassed to provide an official recipe here, mostly because “put a bottle of red wine in the freezer and forget about it” would be the first step in a recipe for disaster, not sangria. I can only offer this as a cautionary tale and a tip for last-ditch rescue efforts. If you’re interested in making a similar beverage, but on purpose, a granita is fairly simple. Mix together wine and juice in a bowl, place in the freezer, and freeze for several hours, stirring every 30 minutes or so to break up any large chunks. The finished product should look like a snow cone and taste divine. Of course, there’s always the option of not being an idiot and just drinking a nice glass of red wine like a civilized person, but hey, where’s the story in that?

Original Author: Corbin Dewitt