Last time in our Summer Drinking series, we wrote about rosé, and how it seems to be in everyone’s glass during the summer months. Another refreshing way to enjoy wine in hot weather, other than a chilled, crisp Provençal rosé (though that doesn’t sound bad), sangria is also an opportunity to put your unwanted bottles of inexpensive red wine to good use!

Sangria is a wine cocktail that uses fruit, juice and other liquors to cut the taste of a “bad” red wine, while still using the flavor profile of wine (usually garnacha ortempranillo) as a foundation. I’ve heard mixed opinions about sangria, that it’s not for real wine lovers, and it’s just diluted wine, but I completely disagree. Always served over ice, I think that it’s a delicious and perfect for cooling down in the summer.

Sangria originates in Spain, where the climate is generally very warm – especially in the summer. You won’t find it being enjoyed in many bars (unless it’s in the glass of a tourist), but that doesn’t mean it’s not traditional. Sangria is made by the jarra, or pitcher and is meant for parties. As any Spaniard will tell you, use the worst wine you can find to make it. The bottom of the barrel – literally, someone once told me, is perfect. To it, add brandy or cognac if you’re aiming for authenticity, but here in the States, you’ll see sangria with everything from rum to tequila. The most important part is the fruit – oranges, lemons, limes, peaches, apples, you name it. If it’s in season, toss it in!

Pour over ice, and leave refrigerated in a sangria pitcher (a specific pitcher with a pinched lip to catch the fruit while pouring) overnight, and serve!

To kick off your weekend, try mixing some sangria at home for a group of friends. This is not for your prized Burgundies, so leave those in your cellar to Coravin later. This is a great way to enjoy some of the inexpensive red wine that you may have laying around that will be just as delicious as that Brunello you’ve been holding onto…just in a different way.

To get started, here are a few recipes that you can try this weekend:

Cheers, and happy summer sipping!