Berry, Plum, and Rose Sangría

My first experience with sangría could have been my last experience with sangría. At a tapas place in the Mission, I washed down fried potato wedges and plantains with a few glasses, feeling completely sober…

…until I tried to stand up.

Sangría, a lightly sweetened wine-based beverage flavored with fresh fruit, is usually fortified with hard liquor. The fruity bits that absorb copious alcohol function like booze-sodden time capsules, releasing drunkenness into your bloodstream all at once when you least expect it. Sangría goes down easy, but it can hit you hard if you’re not careful.

Luckily, a lovely recipe in Jerry Traunfeld’s The Herbal Kitchen got me over my sangríaphobia. His Berry Rose Sangría combines rose geranium-infused simple syrup with red summer berries, crème de cassis, rosé wine, and sparkling water. It tastes magical.

Since I don’t often have rose geranium or black currant liqueur on hand, I tried a stripped-down version using rosewater and fruit muddled with sugar in their place. I chose plums, blackberries and raspberries for my version, as all are in the rose family and pair brilliantly with the flower essence.

The recipe is a snap to put together. Half the fruit gets mashed to a pulp with a bit of sugar, mixed with half the wine, and strained. In go a splash of rosewater, the rest of the wine, and lemon juice (I found that meyer lemon juice really makes the flavors pop). Chill it for a bit, then ladle it into ice-filled glasses and top with a bit of fizzy water.

I tried adding both gin and white rum, but found that both masked the delicate flavors of fruit and flowers. If you want more booze, drink more sangría. I made a batch of this for a band rehearsal (we’re playing tonight in Fairfax at the Sleeping Lady, for all you Bay Area folks); four of us polished it off in about 30 minutes.

This drink is a little sweet and a little tart, with the rose, fruit, wine and lemon blending seamlessly together. Rosewater makes everything taste a bit mysterious and haunting, pretty and girly, and it does so here. When you’ve finished your glass, be sure to scoop up the rose and wine-soaked plums left at the bottom – my favorite part.

You should still be able to taste the wine in a good sangría, and you certainly can here. For that reason, it pays to use a decent wine that you would enjoy drinking on its own. If you like more bubbles, try using a sparkling rosé.

{Coaster awesomeness handmade by my amazingly talented and generous friend Amelia!}

*Also! On Saturday September 21st, yoga instructor Kimberly Hu and I are collaborating to present YOGA + YUM: a mini retreat to nourish mind, body and soul. After a 75 minute yoga class taught by Kim, I’ll demonstrate how to make a few of my favorite vegan and gluten-free recipes that don’t leave you feeling deprived: Mint and Celery Sodas, a variation of these Creamy Sesame Noodles with Crispy Tofu, and Chocolate Chile Coconut Milk Truffles, which we get to eat, of course! The event will be held at Kim’s studio in the Dogpatch area of San Francisco from 10:30-1:30pm. Space is limited, and advanced booking (here) is required. $40 for the whole shebang.*

Good Libations:

Strawberry Blood Orange Rum Punch
Moroccan Mojitos
Sweet Cherry Manhattans
Ginger Rhubarb Bee’s Knees

Plums and berries, previously:

Skillet Custard Cornbread with Berries and Honey
Plum, Rhubarb and Raspberry Cardamom Crisp
Plum Biercake
Gluten-Free Nectarine Plum and Almond Upside-Down Cake

Berry, Plum, and Rose Sangría

Since wine and fruit will vary a bit in sweetness, start with the smaller quantities of sugar and lemon, adding more if you feel the sangría needs it. Extra sugar can be dissolved in a bit of boiling water first. Use a decent rosé that you wouldn’t mind drinking on its own, since the flavor of the wine stays prominent in the final drink. Four people can go through this fast and wish for more, so consider doubling the recipe if you’ve got sangría hogs coming to your party. Hand out spoons so that guests can eat the booze-sodden fruit at the bottom of their cups.

Makes 4-6 servings

1/2 cup raspberries, plus 1/2 cup for garnish
1/2 cup blackberries, plus 1/2 cup for garnish
2 medium plums, ripe but firm, sliced
4-5 tablespoons sugar
1 (750mL) bottle dry rosé wine
2-3 tablespoons strained lemon juice (preferably meyer)
1 tablespoon rosewater
sparkling water

In a large measuring pitcher, muddle together 1/2 cup raspberries, 1/2 cup blackberries, and 1 of the plums with the sugar until the fruit is pulverized. Add half of the wine, then strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve and into a large punch bowl or pitcher, pressing on the fruit pulp to extract all the good stuff. Discard the pulp.

Add the rest of the wine, the lemon juice, rosewater, and the remaining fruit to the sangría. Taste, adding more sugar or lemon juice if you feel that it needs it. Cover and chill for an hour, or up to a day or two. (Or drink it right away if you just can’t wait.)

Fill glasses with ice, and ladle sangría and fruit into each glass. Top each glass with a bit of sparkling water, and serve (with spoons to scoop up the alcohol-soaked fruit).

12 thoughts on “Berry, Plum, and Rose Sangría”

  1. This sangria looks beautiful. But I've been in the same place as you…not realizing how powerful/potent that fruity drink can be! Thank you for sharing! I wish I wasn't breastfeeding!

  2. Somehow I have drunk no rose this entire summer! This sangria looks like the perfect way to fix that. :) Now I just need to keep myself from eating all the berries before it's happy hour…

  3. Hehe! Back in our [too] early days of drinking on summer break from college, my friend and I thought it would be a really good idea to buy a sangria watermelon, hollow it out, then fill it with sangria, cubed melon, and other fruit bits. It seemed to make sense at the time (except for the fact that it was just the two of us). Her parents were not pleased when they discovered the disaster we'd created in the kitchen, and the scary looking mess of a watermelon in the fridge.

    Now that I have a more refined palette (and decision-making skills), I am swooning over the idea of rose and meyer lemon in sangria! Meyer lemons always taste like they have a little hint of thyme to me, and herbal and floral notes in such a summery beverage are beyond perfect. Such a beautiful drink! (:

    1. Oooh! You're blowing my mind with the idea of thyme in sangria! Actually, I love the idea of sangria in a sangria watermelon, too! Though I'd definitely want to invite a crowd to help eat/drink it. :)

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