from the archives: cool down grownup style with fruity spanish sangria

I sit in my room near the open french doors with the sound of the fan, occasional airplane and chirping bird punctuating the quiet. It's too hot to do much. Even the neighbor kids have been quiet.
Starbuck, recovering from a bad case of hives, has been moving from the bed to the balcony to the cool floor for a few hours now. Half asleep yet her eyes follow me when I get up every 30 minutes or so to stir the Cherry Lime Granita coming together in my mini freezer. It's for a freelance story I'm photographing for the newspaper publishing in a few weeks. 
It's also taking an incredible amount of restraint every time I have to stir it to not partake of the cool, sweet, tart yumminess. 
It's hot. 
Did I mention that already?
It has been "standing still and sweating" hot for a few days now. Yes. Yes, summer in San Diego has officially begun. 
To help cool down, I am digging into the archives this week to bring you a step by step in the art of sangria making. Refreshing and fruity, this is by far my favorite summertime drink and perfect for warm weather get togethers. It's especially tasty with BBQ so invite some friends over this weekend and make this. Get started today so come Saturday, you have a luscious base to add some bubbles to. 

Summer colors: Cored and sliced apple, sliced orange, lemon and lime. Plus strawberries – 'tis the season, after all. And fresh raspberries.
Layer the sliced fruit and hulled and sliced strawberries in a large glass pitcher. 

A lot of red sangria recipes say to use any mild red wine which I did when I first started making sangria. But it's much more successful if you can find a decent Spanish Red Rioja that you enjoy straight out of the bottle. Like most things in life, it's cause and effect: quality ingredients=quality product. I prefer Marqués de Cáceres Red Crianza. Pour it, the brandy and the caster sugar into another pitcher and whisk until sugar dissolves. Whisk, whisk, whisk. 
What is caster sugar, you ask?

Caster sugar (above, left)  is the British name for what is sold here in the U.S. as superfine – or baker's sugar. The granules are about half the size of standard granulated sugar (above, right) which means it dissolves faster in cold drinks. It is not, however, powdered sugar, which is produced by mechanically pounding granulated sugar into a fine powder. I always have it in the pantry and prefer it for baking and for making simple syrups.

Once the sugar has dissolved, pour the mixture into the pitcher with the fruit.

Stir to combine well. 

Doesn't that look L-U-S-C-I-O-U-S! The color, the smell, the anticipation building! But don't give in! This is the concentrate and it needs to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 24hs. Personally, mine marinates at least 48hrs (and as long as 4 days but that truly is a test of will power!).

When ready to serve, fill your glass with ice, add the Sangria concentrate to the halfway mark and top of with 7-Up or Sprite (or even with some club soda if you are so inclined). Garnish with fresh fruit. ¡Salúd!

Ani's Spanish Sangria

1 apple, cored and sliced
1 orange, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
1 lime, sliced
1/2 cup strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/2 cup raspberries
1 bottle Spanish rioja, red
1 1/2 cups brandy
3/4 cup caster sugar
lime/lemon flavored soda such as Sprite or 7-Up (or club soda but skip the Mountain Dew, it's MUCH too sweet)
extra berries or sliced oranges to garnish
Layer the first six ingredients in a large gallon pitcher. In a separate pitcher, combine wine, brandy and sugar. Whisk until sugar dissolves. Add to fruit pitcher. Cover pitcher with plastic wrap and let marinate in the refrigerator at least overnight (I make mine three days before my party).  When ready to serve, pour Sangria concentrate into an ice filled glass, stopping halfway. Top off with soda and add fruit for garnish.