It's Australia Day Eve. And at this very moment Aussies are stocking the esky with various celebratory beverages and/or intoxicants. And while the stubby might be the first choice in toasting our nationhood, a crafted sangria could be the perfect complement.
Some might argue that sangria isn't even Australian, but of course our multi-cultural identity allows us the flexibility of claiming any cultural icon such as sangria as our own. Not rolling the 'r' and adding a nasal twang can assist the process. This might also get around European laws that state that outside Spain and Portugal, the drink cannot be called 'sangria' but instead must be labelled 'aromatized wine-based drink'.
So how do you make the perfect sangria? Blowfly's experience of sangria began and reached its zenith over 25 years ago in a small bar on the darker end of the port of Estepona in southern Spain. At 'Burbujas' (bubbles), they played endless Doors and Jimi Hendrix on vinyl, and served two litre jugs of Sangria de Champan with a stack of plastic goblets. These were taken and consumed while sitting in the available parking spaces outside the bar. The drink was sublime. OK, youth may have played its part, but at any rate... Blowfly took it upon himself to study the bartender. What Blowfly realised, even back then, was that balance is the key to any great sangria. The recipe has been honed somewhat since, and thanks to some insightful Madrileño friends includes sliced bananas. The banana slices will sit at the bottom of the jug or bowl, and will soak up all the flavours of the sangria.
Red wine 1 bottle (preferably with some decent tannic structure—we use Blowfly merlot '04)
Sparkling white 1 bottle (we use our greenbottle brut reserve)
Brandy 1/4 bottle (you get what you pay for, but it's not worth your Remy)
Orange Juice 1/2 litre ('juice' not 'drink'—will help avoid a bad headache)
Whole orange 1
Sugar to taste (less refined is better—agave or coconut sugar syrup dissolve easily)
To keep the addition of ice to a minimum (and avoid diluting), keep all ingredients as cool as possible before preparation. Cut the fruit into small pieces, baring in mind if they are too big they will make drinking difficult. Place fruit in a large bowl or (clean) bucket. Cover with brandy and leave for half an hour. Add the red wine and sparkling wine. Add sugar incrementally and taste. Too sweet and it will be undrinkable after half a glass; too little and the brandy could bite. Add ice and serve immediately as the ice will melt and bubbles disappear over time—and we don't want that. Happy Australia Day!
Now here's the disclaimer:
Blowfly in no way encourages excessive drinking, so it should be taken into account that the alcoholic potency of this recipe is roughly equivalent to a regular glass of wine (13-14% alc/vol) . Please drink and be merry, but don't even think about driving. And although exceeding easy to drink, consuming too much will bring pain. Look out for those bananas.