Sangria is just one of those things that everyone does differently. I have my way, everyone in Spain has their own way, and everyone in Portugal has their own way. The secret to a good sangria is knowing what you need: a bottle of fruity red wine (less than $15, please), brandy (some people like to add vodka or Port, too), fruit, and a little sweetness. If you want a perfect Spanish bite to go along with it, scroll down for my Spanish Crab Toast recipe...
Instead of adding sugar syrup (because I prefer dry sangria), I like to take fresh ripe berries (ripe = more sugar), like strawberries and blackberries, and muddle them a bit to release their juices, then I add a bit of orange juice to the mix. I always always always add sliced citrus (limes + lemons + oranges) to my sangria. It looks gorgeous and adds an irreplaceable brightness. If you have an apple, chop that up and throw that in there - why not? Make it a project and find your perfect sangria recipe! Taste as you go along and I guarantee you'll come up with something amazing.
Here's my perfect sangria:
1 bottle fruity red wine (I use an affordable Spanish Garnacha)
4 oz. brandy
3 oz. freshly-squeezed orange juice
3 oz. Ruby Port
1/2 cup fresh, ripe strawberries, quartered
1/2 cup fresh, ripe blackberries
1 lime, sliced
1/2 orange, sliced
2 lemon slices
5-10 fresh mint leaves
In a large jar or pitcher, add the berries and muddle or crush to release their juices, but not turn into complete mush. Add the red wine, brandy, Port, orange juice, sliced citrus, and mint leaves. Stir to combine. Allow to sit, covered, in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or, preferably, prepare in the morning to enjoy in the evening.
To serve: Stir before serving. Ladle fruit and liquid over ice and garnish with an orange slice and/or fresh mint leaves.
Note: I keep my sangria in an airtight glass jar and vigorously shake it a few times per day as it sits. Always do a taste test. Not sweet enough? Add some sugar syrup or a splash of fruity dessert wine, if you have it open. Not boozy enough? Add some more brandy.
Spanish Crab Toast
The first time I had this crab toast, it made me very, very, very, very happy. It was SO hot outside. A big pitcher of sangria was in the process of cooling me down. And then this crab toast shows up at the table. It was garlicky, bright, fresh and satisfying. Every few months, I have an irresistible urge to make it at home along with a pitcher of sangria. It's simple and easily made ahead for entertaining later.
1 lb. lump crabmeat
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. paprika
Zest + juice of one lemon
1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped + more for garnish
1/2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
1 12-oz. jar of roasted piquillo peppers or about 12 peppers
3-5 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp. sea salt
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1. Drain the crabmeat and sift through it to pick out any pieces of shell. In a medium bowl, add the crabmeat, olive oil, 1 tsp. sea salt, paprika, black pepper, lemon zest, lemon juice, chives, and thyme. Stir to combine.
2. Drain, rinse, and dry the piquillo peppers. Stuff each pepper with enough crabmeat to fill each pepper loosely. If you're making ahead, you can set the stuffed peppers upright in a bowl and cover with plastic overnight.
3. In a mortar and pestle, crush 3-5 garlic cloves (depending on your garlic tolerance and the size of the garlic cloves - I usually use 3 large cloves) with salt until it forms a paste. Add the mayonnaise and stir to combine. If making ahead, you can also keep this in a bowl, covered overnight. If you don't have a mortar and pestle, grate the garlic into a bowl and just stir in the salt and mayonnaise.
4. Slice the baguette into twelve 1/2-inch slices, or slice an equal number of bread slices for the number of stuffed peppers you have prepared. Toast the slices in a toaster oven until golden brown or, if using your regular oven, place sliced bread on a sheet pan and bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes.
To assemble: Spread about one tablespoon of garlic spread onto each piece of toasted bread. Place one stuffed pepper on top and garnish with a bit of chopped chive. Enjoy!