Last Sunday my family came to my home for the annual Christmas tree trimming party. It's a tradition my mom started years ago to get all her kids and their kids together in the same place at least once during the holiday season. I took over the party eight years ago after she had heart surgery, and the move from her home to my home stuck.
This party is a tradition full of smaller traditions. The same people come every year. Certain family members give me a hard time each year because I don't have cable and they can't watch whatever oh-so-important football game is on. I serve the same menu and drinks, with one exception - I change up a signature cocktail each year.
This year instead of a signature cocktail, I played around with wine and made sangria with Aimé Ruca Malen Red Blend (Malbec, Bonarda, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot). This Argentinian red is perfect for Sangria because it's fresh and fruity and costs around $10. There's no reason to use an expensive wine for Sangria, but you do want to use a good bottle. This blend fits the bill.
The wine was was a media sample, complete with an attached Sangria recipe. I made a few changes because I like mine a little sweeter than the original recipe. The result was a Sangria that everyone enjoyed as we trimmed the tree and watched "Charlie Brown's Christmas."
2 orange peels
2 lime wedges
2 lemon wedges
1 bottle (750ml) Aimé Ruca Malen Red Blend
1 large orange, cut into small wedges
6 oz Triple Sec
1/2 cup orange/pineapple juice (I used Apple & Eve organic)
2 oz simple syrup
Sparkling wine or sparkling water
Muddle the orange peels, lime wedges and lemon wedges in the bottom of a glass pitcher
Add the wine, orange wedges, blueberries, Triple Sec, juice and simple syrup. Stir well.
Refrigerate to chill.
To serve add two ice cubes and a few blueberries to a wine glass. Fill halfway with Sangria and then add sparkling wine or water, leaving about an inch of open space at top of glass.
You can make this up to 12-24 hours ahead of time to help the flavors all blend together before serving.
I added the juice and the simple syrup to their original recipe. I also used blueberries where the original recipe called for strawberries because strawberries are crazy expensive this time of year and the blueberries were on sale.
An extra dry or dry Prosecco works well as the Sparkling wine here. You don't need to spend more than $10 on the Prosecco.
I liked the drink better with sparkling wine than sparkling water, but you might choose sparkling water to keep costs down or to cut the amount of alcohol in the drink.
By the way, Wednesday, December 20 is National Sangria Day. That's tomorrow. It also happens to be #WineWednesday. Perhaps Sangria is in your immediate future, and you just realized it while reading this.