Sangria is so beloved these days that it’s hard to believe that it only gained popularity here in the US in the last few decades. Where did it come from? Originally from humble roots in Spain, where grapes have been grown for centuries alongside the citrus fruits that thrive in the Mediterranean climate, sangria is an inspired blend of young red wine and fruit juices, sometimes with a splash of brandy or orange liqueur to give it a bit more gravitas. It has become a drink of choice now in many countries bordering the Mediterranean, including Italy, where grapevines and citrus orchards also dominate sunny hillsides. Fruity, refreshing and easy-drinking, no wonder it’s our most ordered cocktail at Pastini. (Learn more here)
The term “sangria” used for the drink can be traced back to the 18th century. According to the SAGE Encyclopedia of Alcohol, sangria’s origins “cannot be pinpointed exactly, but early versions were popular in Spain, Greece, and England.” Sangaree, another predecessor drink to sangria that was served either hot or cold, likely originated in the Caribbean, and from there was introduced to mainland America, where it was common beginning in the American colonial era but “largely disappeared in the United States” by the early twentieth century.
Sangria as an iced drink was reintroduced to the U.S. by the late 1940s through Hispanic Americans and Spanish restaurants, and enjoyed an explosion of popularity after it was featured at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York.
Sangria recipes vary wildly even within Spain, with many regional distinctions. The base ingredients are always red wine, and some means to add a fruity or sweeter flavor, and maybe boost the alcohol content. Traditionally sangria may be mixed with citrus fruits or local fruits such as peaches, nectarines, berries, apples, pears, and sweetened with orange juice or a flavored liqueur. Spanish Rioja red wine is traditional. Some sangria recipes, in addition to wine and fruit, feature additional ingredients, such as brandy, sparkling water, or a flavored liqueur.
While sangria is now sometimes made with white or rosé wine, here at Pastini we’ve chosen the more traditional style, but with a twist: we use local Oregon Pinot Noir! We think the bright, fruity Underwood Pinot makes an exceptionally tasty sangria, along with fresh orange, lemon and lime juices, a bit of agave syrup and a splash of brandy.
If you’re like me, you may be wishing you had a cool glass of sangria right now! You can now get our Pastini version to go when you order dinner to pick up, or get it delivered with Doordash. Or naturally, next time you join us for dinner in the restaurant. It’s always on the menu.
Join me soon in raising a glass to summer!