Here at Food52, we love recipes -- but do we always use them? Of course not. Because once you realize you don't always need a recipe, you'll make your favorite dishes a lot more often.
Today: A party drink that is begging -- nay, requiring -- to be made ahead of time. Which means less work for you, and more sangria for everyone.
You shouldn't have to suffer one more summer night without sangria. It's inherently meant for warm nights, for patios, for when you're somewhere much less glamorous but you're looking to feel festive.
But sangria is an overachieving beverage, so the list of reasons to make it goes on: it's pretty much the best thing you can have up your sleeve as a hostess, as a mediocre wine collector, or as a thirsty person over the age of 21. And it's the easiest thing you'll make since you turned that age. (You are at least that age, aren't you?)
This is the lazy stock of alcoholic beverages: start with a base of wine, toss in the liquid equivalent of odds and ends, and let everything macerate and juice and mingle. You wait, and when you're done waiting, you're left with something infinitely better than the sum of its parts. And hopefully a pleasant buzz. Here's how it's done.
How to Make Sangria Without a Recipe
1. Decide what citrus and other fruit you'd like to make friends with your wine, and slice it up. Everything from stone fruit to berries to lemons to tropical fruit is fair game. No one is going to tell you you've added too much fruit -- or too little -- but a general rule of thumb is 2 cups of sliced fruit per bottle of wine.
2. Enter the alcohol. First choose the wine -- you can use red, white, or rosé, but keep in mind that you'll want to use more delicately-flavored fruit with lighter wines. Red wine can handle almost anything you throw at it. To the wine, add your fruit, and then spike it with a half a cup of something stronger. For red wine, we like equal parts brandy and Triple sec. You could add a spoonful of sugar at this juncture. You could also not.
3. Chill for as long as you can wait -- sangria will last for a few days in the fridge -- or at least a few hours. Now fill a glass with ice and pour, making sure to nestle a little wine-soaked fruit into each glass, and top with a bit of sparkling water. You deserve it.
Hungry? Here are some recipes to go alongside:
Photos by James Ransom