Papa Callahan’s Traditional Red Wine Sangria

By Meagan Cross

Although I have lived my entire life in California, which is notorious for temperate weather, I am in love with the changing of seasons. Every time they show themselves, a little excitement trickles through my body. I don’t want to pick favorites, but I have to say that the change from spring to summer is pretty exciting! Although it’s not quite here, I can feel the warmth coming through, which means backyard barbecues, pool parties and delicious summer sippers.

There are so many refreshing beverage options, but one of my favorites is sangria, and this Spanish cocktail is ideal for more than one reason:

1)    Seasonal fruit – Let’s face it, although we live in California and have more options than most year round, the best time to buy or harvest fruit is during the summer months.
2)    Versatility – I am a bit of a traditionalist, but you can make Sangria HOWEVER you want: kumquats, loquats, white wine, red wine, lime water, bubbly water. The sky is the limit, and that’s what makes sangria THE COOLEST.
3)    Perfect for entertaining – Preparing sangria can be done in advance of a party. I love me a flavored martini or margarita, but sangria is sure to impress without the maintenance of blending or shaking.

Many of my recipes come from my father, who I refer to as “Papa Callahan.” He is a master entertainer, chef and mixologist whose sangria, although traditional, packs a punch!
Papa Callahan’s Traditional Red Wine Sangria

4 medium oranges
1 medium lemon
1 medium lime
3 bottles red wine
½ cup simple sugar syrup*
2 cups sparkling water (experiment with your favorite flavored sparkling water)
½ cup brandy

In a one gallon container, squeeze the juice of the oranges, lemon and lime. Add squeezed fruit skins into the container. Pour the wine over the fruit and juices. Refrigerate for three hours or overnight.  

When Ready to Serve
Fill pitcher half full of ice. Then fill three fourths of the pitcher with sangria mixture. Sweeten with simple syrup and add sparkling water and brandy. Serve over ice and garnish with orange slices.

I enjoy my sangria with Spanish tapas, but it’s also the perfect addition to a traditional barbecue or during an evening of entertaining friends!

* To prepare simple syrup, place 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar in small saucepan and cook over medium heat until sugar is completely dissolved into water. Let cool. Psst…you skinny girls out there: substitute cane sugar with Splenda and enjoy a guilt-free summer beverage.

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