Sangria, the refreshing spiced fruit and wine drink that is usually reserved for sunny warm patios during lazy summer months, is a favorite from the Iberian peninsula. Usually made with red wine, hence the name “sangria” which refers to the deep red blood color of the punch, it doesn’t have to be. An often found seasonal or aesthetically pleasing twist is to mix the invigorating drink with a white or rosé, but sometimes it’s fun to use something that isn’t so expected or familiar. That’s why this sangria utilizes something more effervescent, a green wine called Vinho Verde.
Vinho Verde is the “champagne” of Portugal. Not because it has an exorbitant price tag, but for its location designation. This green wine, a way of saying “new” rather than based on color, can only be produced from the grapes that call northern Portugal home and can only be grown in that particular area of the country. It’s fairly exclusive, to say the least.
I choose this wine for sangria for its crispness and its ability to work well with citrus and winter fruits. The combination of the two leads to a libation that lifts and rejuvenates rather than causing one to fall into a dream-like state. It makes it a lovely accompaniment to a brunch or lunch or as a mid-day gathering with friends if you have plans other than to take a nap!
For the fruit portion of this sangria citrus and pomegranates are used. Citrus in the form of lemon and lime lend the idea of summer through their sunny dispositions and association with the warmer months while still being seasonally appropriate for winter through early spring. Clementines and pomegranates, on the other hand, are obviously included because of their sweet juices and the fact that they are unquestionably linked to the frostier months.
Instead of using a sugar-laden soda as many often do to make sangria, I choose to regulate the amount of sugar by making a simple mint-infused syrup and use plain carbonated water. This allows one to tone down the overly saccharine effect that may happen. It also lets the mixologist add more or less depending on one’s own taste while letting the flavor of the wine to come through and not be masked by sugar.
This is an adult beverage that would happily grace any table with family, friends, or even to be enjoyed as a refreshing icebreaker when greeting someone new!
Vinho Verde Citrus and Pomegranate Sangria Recipe
- 4 clementines
- 1 lemon
- 1 lime
- 1 pomegranate
- ½ bunch fresh mint
- 1 cup light brown sugar or white sugar
- 1 cup water
- 12 ounces carbonated water
- 1 bottle Vinho Verde wine
- Trim the ends of the citrus fruits. Thinly slice them into rounds and remove the seeds. Wash the mint under cool water. Put the citrus slices into a large pitcher.
- Cut open the pomegranate and remove the seeds, careful to discard any of the white fiber holding the seeds inside the fruit. Add them to the large pitcher
- Remove the stems from half of the mint leaves and put those leaves into the pitcher.
- In a saucepan mix the sugar and the water together. Add the rest of the mint to the pan.
- Heat the pan on the stove on medium. Once the sugar has fully dissolved in the water and the mint has started to wilt, remove the pan from the heat.
- Allow the syrup to cool down before pouring it into the pitcher with the fruit. Let it sit about 30 minutes to cool all the way and sweeten the citrus.
- Pour the carbonated water into the pitcher.
- Add the wine to the pitcher and stir everything well.
If you cannot find a Vinho Verde wine, try a sparkling white wine.
STEP ONE – PREPARE THE CITRUS
Lay the lemon, lime, and clementines on a cutting board and cut off both ends of each fruit. Discard the ends. Wash the mint well with cool water.
Slice the fruit into thin rounds, removing any seeds if necessary.
Put all the sliced citrus into a large pitcher.
STEP TWO – PREPARE THE POMEGRANATE
Cut the pomegranate in half with a sharp knife. Pull the skin back on one half to help the red seeds pop out from the white membrane holding them inside. Discard the white pith and the outside skin.
Put the pomegranate seeds into the pitcher with the citrus.
STEP THREE – ADD MINT
Take half of the mint and remove leaves from the stems. Toss out the stems and place the mint into the pitcher with the fruit.
STEP FOUR – MIX THE SIMPLE SYRUP
Put the sugar and the water into the saucepan.
Add the rest of the mint and make sure it’s submerged in the liquid.
STEP FIVE – COOK THE SIMPLE SYRUP
Place the saucepan with the sugar, water, and mint onto the stove over medium heat. Let it heat up and the sugar to dissolve as it does.
It is ready when the liquid is completely clear and the mint has started to wilt, but it still a vibrant green color. Turn off the heat and let it cool a couple of minutes.
STEP SIX – COMBINE SYRUP AND FRUIT
Test the syrup for hotness before pouring it into the pitcher. If it’s too hot, it could cause the glass to break.
Stir and coat the fruit with the syrup before allowing it to rest about 30 minutes to infuse the fruit.
STEP SEVEN – ADD CARBONATED WATER
Carefully, pour the carbonated water into the pitcher so that it doesn’t fizz up too much.
STEP EIGHT – ADD WINE AND STIR
Pour the vinho verde into the pitcher and stir it well to make sure everything is combined well and the flavors have a chance to marry before serving.
Proper sangria can be made any time of year, but it’s best to make it seasonally appropriate with fruits, herbs, and spices. With vinho verde as the wine choice, this sangria is ideal for late winter or early spring using citrus, or can be modified with fresh berries and stone fruits in the summer for a refreshing drink on a hot day!