Why not? The whole family can enjoy it and you and your guests will be safer at home and on the road after you drink it. As an added bonus, the non-alcoholic version contains fewer calories than the classic drink.
What is sangria?
Sangria [pronounced san-GREE-uh] is a wine-based punch that originated in Spain. It's made by mixing wine with fresh, seasonal fruit, and sparkling mineral water, fruit juice, or citrus flavored soda.
Traditionally it is made with red wine, which gives it a blood-red color and its name, Sangre, meaning blood. Sangría blanco (white sangría) is made with white wine. Its served cold over ice and makes a refreshing cooler on a hot summer day.
You’ll find almost as many versions of it as people who make it. Some varieties contain brandy, cognac or some other liqueur. According to food historians, it was introduced to America at the 1964 World's Fair. Since then people all over the planet have been playing with the recipe.
I learn from my students
One of my cooking students, Lee Ann Aronson, created a recipe for it that she served for the Arizona Herb Association Culinary dinner in June of 2008. After a recent cooking class she invited me to pick fresh herbs from her garden. She gave me an herb I’d never used––rose geranium. Since I had not idea what to do with it, she gave me this recipe.
I did what I usually do, tinker with recipes. Hers called for simple syrup, a common ingredient in cocktails and other drink recipes. It usually contains equal parts sugar and water, boiled to dissolve the sugar. I don’t keep white sugar, brown sugar, or even sucanat in the house. I replace refined sugars with unrefined sweeteners then reduce the total amount called for. I replaced 1 1/2 cups of sugar and 1 1/2 cups of water with 1/4 cup of honey or agave nectar and 1 teaspoon of clear stevia extract liquid and 2 cups water. This greatly reduced the calories and made it sweet enough for me.
I made the recipe for two cooking class potlucks last week. My students loved it. Many of them live in apartments, townhouses, and homes without gardens and I figured those with gardens were unlikely to have rose geranium or lime scented geranium growing, so I checked back with Lee Ann to get ideas for substitutions. I made two more test batches over 4th of July weekend.
Stevia is a non-caloric herbal sweetener extracted from the leaf of a South American plant––Stevia Rebaudiana––a small perennial shrub that produces incredibly small, sweet leaves that taste 50 times sweeter than table sugar.
Unlike caloric sweeteners, stevia doesn’t promote tooth decay,and it has no effect on blood sugar levels, anyone wants to avoid the adverse effects of sugar and artificial sweeteners can use it. It is non-toxic and has a record of safe and continuous use for hundreds of years. The only drawback is a bitter taste if you use too much. You can avoid this by precisely measuring it and by adding it in very small amounts, usually tiny pinches of the purified powder or several drops of the clear liquid, at a time. Clear stevia extract liquid is probably the easiest to use.
You can read more about stevia in my new book. The Ice Dream Cookbook: Dairy-Free Ice Cream Alternatives with Gluten-Free Cookies, Compotes & Sauces (Planetary Press, Fall 2008). You can pre-order it from this site. Copies will ship sometime in August and you’ll receive yours before stores or on line outlets.
I replaced rose geranium with food-grade rosewater, sold in Middle Eastern and Indian markets. It doesn’t taste exactly the like the fresh herb but it does add the essence of roses. For lime scented geranium I used fresh lime juice and zest. While it doesn’t taste exactly the same it adds a refreshing lime flavor.
I used store bought organic lemonade sold in a bottle, as Lee Ann recommended. It does contain sucanat (dried cane juice). I’d never bought it before. I figured I was using it in small amounts so we wouldn’t take in a lot of sugar. If you want to omit it, you could try mixing 1/3 cup water, 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, and 1 more tablespoon of honey or agave nectar.
Try it and tell me what you think.
Prep: 15 minutes Cooking: 10 minutes Yield: 8 cups
4 cups filtered water
6 Red Zinger tea bags, hibiscus tea bags, or 4 cups fresh hibiscus flowers or 1cup dried
2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
10 whole cloves
12 whole cardamom pods
2 (3-inch) pieces peeled fresh gingerroot, coarsely chopped (about 3 tablespoons)
2 large springs fresh rose geranium (2 handfuls or 1 ounce by weight); (substitutions below)*
2 (8-inch) sprigs fresh lime scented geranium (substitutions below)*
Alternative to simple syrup
2 cups filtered water
1/4 cup raw honey or agave nectar (light rather than dark variety)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon clear stevia extract liquid
Finishes & garnishes
1/2 cup Whole Foods brand or Santa Cruz Organic Lemonade (sold in bottles) or to taste
1 navel orange, thinly sliced into rounds or half-moons
1 lemon or lime, thinly sliced into rounds or half-moons
2 cups of sliced fresh strawberries, preferably organic
Grated zest (peel) of 1 medium orange, optional
1. For the tea: Combine the tea ingredients (water, red zinger or hibiscus tea, cinnamon sticks, cloves, cardamom, ginger, rose geranium and lime scented geranium) 2- to 3-quart pot. Cover and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Cool, pour through a strainer, and discard solids.
2. For the sweetener: Boil 2 cups of water. Remove from heat, add honey and stevia liquid. Stir well. Combine with the tea and chill until ready to serve.
3. To serve: Add the finishing ingredients (sliced orange, lemon or lime, strawberries, lemonade, and optional orange zest). Serve over ice.
Note: If you don’t plan to serve all of the punch within 1 day, add fruit to only a portion of it.
Variations & Substitutions:
* If you don’t have fresh rose geranium: Add 2 tablespoons of Rose Water, sold in Middle Eastern and Indian grocery stores, to the cooled tea at the end of step 1.
* If you don’t have lime scented geranium: Substitute 1/4 cup of fresh lime juice to the cooled tea at the end of step 1 and replace the orange zest with grated lime zest in step 3. Note: grate the lime zest before you juice the lime.