In America, July is the time of patriots. At its core, it’s a month where Americans celebrate “being American.” However, the festivities are not one of us versus them – as it is often misunderstood – but us as all. We like to celebrate who we are: a nation of the immigrant. America has always been a nation of the foreign-born and continues to have more immigrants per year than any other country.
It’s fitting, then, that the drink of summer, the one that best symbolizes this eclectic mix, is sangria.
Sangria: one part wine, one part fruit, all parts delicious.
Move over beer; this Spanish import is, I would argue, the most American of summer drinks due to its inherently blended nature. It may not sound sexy, but sangria is the stew of beverages – the paella, if you will. The base mixture consists of a variety of sliced fruit, red wine, and water. Variations of sangria (and there are many) even include brandy, soda, honey and orange juice. With sangria the palate’s the limit.
The drink is also practical. Practicality is, unlike stew, very sexy. It’s an ideal found throughout American history and is embodied best by American architect Louis Sullivan’s phrase, “form follows function.” With its dark red hue, the form of sangria is an absolute beaut.
Sangria is easy and inexpensive to make. In Spain, sangria is used as punch, and the only true party foul no matter where you are in the world is running out of drinks. The ability to make a lot of sangria (and once you taste it you will want to) is crucial since sangria is a social-minded drink. Partying – you could say – is in its blood.
Thanks to sangria’s e pluribus unum character, a little goes a long way, so you won’t even have to break the bank in order to indulge. While almost any bottle of red wine will do, I recommend a 2011 El Pensador Tempranillo. Beyond that, you need only search as far as the aisles of your local grocery to be on your way to summertime bliss.
For the discerning palate (he says, adjusting his monocle) drinking sangria gives one the flavor and pleasure of wine without going through the effort of tasting it. Not the tasting on the tongue, but the tasting of the mind. So much of wine culture is based around tasting that we, maybe just a little, forget that wine is for enjoyment. Sangria is a great way to relish wine without the commitment of mandatory snobbery. Form follows function.
What is important to remember is that, like us, sangria is a medley. It’s also an import, like us. So in the spirit of patriotism, understanding, and brotherly love, a toast to this most American of drinks: ¡Salud!