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As I write this on a quiet pandemic weekend, summer is winding down. The days are getting cooler, the nights shorter. Yet you may still want to spend time outside with friends and family. This smooth and delicious white wine sangria is excellent for almost any occasion. Whether it’s a picnic, barbecue, cottage trip, or engagement party, the harvest fruit and floral bouquet deliver a vital and refreshing experience for all.
The idea to make this sangria creeped up on me. With my reputation of being a “drinks guy” on social media, I decided I needed to expand my horizons. I wanted to be creative with it, and I also knew the window for fresh, local produce was closing. So, I needed to find a way to make the drink stand out on its own, not just be a thirst quencher for a hot day. If that sounds like what you’re looking for, you’re in the right place.
First time making white wine sangria?
You’re not alone. Let me share what I’ve learned. My journey to make a great sangria with no prior knowledge started with finding a jug. In fact, this was easily the longest step in the process. You need a jug that will be large enough to hold all the fruit and liquid, and still have room to let the ingredients breathe. Since the base is wine, it’s crucial to give it some air.
I browsed many websites, visited a few stores, and literally ran across a mall between a medical appointment and evening plans. I ended up finding a nice, tall and round jug that worked for me. The jug you see here goes for under $15 at Canadian Tire or Walmart. Unless you’re going all out for presentation, I recommend staying away from specialty kitchen and home stores.
More than the sum of its parts
The best sangria uses ingredients that you love. Fresh fruit and a nice wine that is temperate, neither too dry nor too intense. I recommend staying away from Chardonnays. I ended up picking a Sauvignon Blanc from Chile, which was on sale for $10. Any Canadian reading this will know that’s a bargain given our liquor store prices!
Of course, there’s a lot of room to play around: pick a wine that you like, and don’t overthink it. The wine is the main ingredient, but it at the end of the day it is just the backdrop. The fruit, honey, and other ingredients will subtly impart an orchard of flavours and ultimately transform the wine into something new.
We’re using fruits like apples and peaches and a healthy measure of citrus. Then, we give it a touch of freshness with elderflower, mint, and gin. You might notice, if you’ve gone trawling around for white wine sangria recipes recently like I have, that many add brandy to the mix. That makes sense; it is a grape-based spirit after all.
A little something extra
I made a conscious choice to try adding a bit of gin instead. This sacrifices just a bit of sweetness that may get lost in the mix with an herbal quality that complements the fruit, honey, and elderflower. I used a highly botanical gin, not a typical London dry. They don’t have the sharpness of a juniper or citrus-forward gin. Instead, a highly botanical gin is more fresh like an herb or flower garden.
Here’s a list of interesting botanical gins you may want to try. I highly recommend Hendrick’s and Botanist, personally, as their unique flavour profiles bring a lot to the table, like rose and cucumber, or wildflowers and mountain. If you’re in Canada like me, you may also want to check out Dillon’s, a small distiller close to me.
If my nerding out to gin just flew right over your head, don’t worry. A bottle of gin may be an investment, but it will come in very handy for more cocktails later. At the end of the day, any gin, brandy, or another spirit with fruit or herbal qualities will do. Make it your own, and don’t sweat it!
Late Summer White Sangria
- 90 oz / 2.6 litre jug (or larger)
- Cutting board
- Long spoon (wooden or bar spoon)
- 1 750 ml (26 oz) bottle of white wine
- 2 peaches
- 1 large green apple
- 1 lemon
- 1 lime
- 2.5 oz (75 ml) elderflower liqueur or cordial I used St. Germain
- 2 oz (60 ml) honey syrup honey mixed with warm water for a more liquid consistency
- 2 oz (60 ml) botanical gin or sub brandy
- 1 cup (240 ml) soda water
- mint leaves to serve
- Skin your apple and (optionally) your peach as well. This will help make sure the wine absorbs less bitterness and more fruit taste.
- Chop fruit into thin slices or chunks and place them into your jug.
- For the honey syrup, mix about 2 parts honey with 1 part warm (NOT boiling hot) water. Stir until it has an even consistency. 2-3 big spoonfuls of honey should be more than enough.
- Add honey syrup and lightly muddle the fruit to get the juices to come out. Mix the liquid and fruit together.
- Add wine and other liquid ingredients. Stir the jug for 15-20 seconds or give it a few hard swirls.
- Place the jug into the fridge, allowing it to cool for at least 1 hour. The longer you keep the fruit soaking the more flavour your sangria will have. Preparing a jug in advance overnight is no problem at all.
- Add soda water to jug when serving. Serve mint separately with each individual glass.
- Enjoy the apple and peach slices after your sangria is done!
Thanks for stopping by! If you like this kind of article, why not check out some of my other cocktail recipes as well?