Sangrìa Verde {Vinho Verde, Cucumber, Melon, Mint, Basil + Lime}

I’ve long been a fan of dry, sparkly Italian Prosecco, so I was thrilled when I discovered its softer relative, Portugese Vinho Verde. If Prosecco is like the Italian language – brash, a little sassy, and perfect for telling someone off, vinho verde is like Portugese – subtle and velvety on the tongue, like a whisper.

True to its name, vinho verde has a green tinge with a dry acidity and subtle fizz. It is the definition of “slightly frizzante,” (or whatever the Portugese equivalent would be) and just the thing to quaff on a warm summer’s day before your siesta.

Since discovering this spirit a few years ago, I’ve had a mind to turn it into a sangrìa verde filled with all the green things of late summer: cubes of fragrant melon, slices of slender cucumber, sweet green grapes, tart limes, and herbaceous basil and mint. I thought I’d sweeten it with a touch of simple syrup and fortify it with a splash of white rum.

Years went by when sangrìa verde existed only in my mind. Other green beverages and sangrìas were realized, but this one kept getting put on hold.

After making Cucumber Melon Caprese Salads, I found myself with the majority of ingredients needed for this drink, so I finally gave it a go. Thinking that St. Germain makes everything better, and that it would pair nicely with the floral melon, I used it in place of simple syrup and rum. I muddled, I steeped, I strained, I stirred. Finally after all these years, I took a sip of my creation.

And… it was just ok. You could say I was only slightly frizzante about it. The flavors were muddy. Instead of making everything taste like magic and flowers the way it usually does, the St. Germain just masked the delicate melon and mint, refusing to come forward on its own no matter how much I added. I had to force myself and Jay to drink the rest, and that is really saying something. “Maybe it’s just not hot enough to be drinking this,” Jay said kindly while choking down a glass.

I almost gave up on sangrìa verde, thinking that perhaps it was a thing that was better in my head than in reality. But when a mini “heat wave” (75 degrees) rolled into San Francisco this week, I decided to give it one last try. I made the recipe as simple as possible, sweetening it with a quick sugar syrup, and skipping the muddling in favor of simply combining all the ingredients and letting them hang out together for a bit before pouring it into glasses.

This sangrìa verde exceeded my expectations. It was clean and crisp, a little floral and deeply refreshing.

I like that you can taste all the different components: wine, cucumber, melon, a little sweetness from the grapes, herbaceous topnotes from fresh mint and basil. The rum gives it a bit of oomph without interfering with the other flavors, and a bit of lime juice sharpens things up. My favorite part is scooping up bits of crisp, ice cold cucumber and chilly grapes to eat when I finish a glass.

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Green drinks:
Matcha Mint Juleps
Fall Greens Smoothie
Mint and Celery Soda

One year ago:
Rosemary Peach Maple Leaf Cocktail

Two years ago:
Orzo Salad with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
(Gluten-Free) Nectarine Plum Almond Upside-Down Cake

Three years ago:
Corn and Scallion Griddle Cakes
Berry Crumble Pie, Sour Cream Ice Cream

Four years ago:
(Gluten-Free) Coconut Rum Blondies (a.k.a. Congo Bars)
Hibiscus Tequila Sparklers

Sangrìa Verde {with Vinho Verde, Cucumber, Melon, Mint, Basil + Lime}

I like this sangrìa best on the day it’s made, as the fruit and vegetables will discolor after a day or two in the fridge and the drink will taste less bright and well-defined. Serve glasses with small spoons for scooping up the booze-soaked goodies. Feel free to up the rum for more boozy oomph, or leave it out altogether for lightweights.

Makes 4-6 servings

1/4 cup organic blonde cane sugar
1/4 cup boiling water
3/4 cup cubed green melon
1/2 cup thinly sliced cucumber
1/2 cup halved green table grapes
1 lime, thinly sliced
juice of 1 lime
2 sprigs mint, plus some pretty leaves for garnish
2 sprigs basil, plus some pretty leaves for garnish
1 (750mL) bottle Vinho Verde (or dry white or sparkling wine such as Prosecco), chilled
1/2 cup white rum
sparkling water

In a small, heat-proof jar or bowl, stir together the sugar and boiling water to dissolve the sugar.

In a large vessel, such as a 2-quart mason jar, pitcher, or punch bowl, combine the cucumber, melon, grapes, lime slices, lime juice, mint, and basil. Pour in the Vinho Verde, rum, and simple syrup. Stir gently to combine, then cover and chill for at least 30 minutes or up to several hours.

To serve, fill tall glasses with ice. Pour in sangrìa and spoon in some of the fruity bits. Top off each glass with a spritz of fizzy water and some pretty mint and basil leaves to garnish, and serve.

38 thoughts on “Sangrìa Verde {Vinho Verde, Cucumber, Melon, Mint, Basil + Lime}”

  1. I have loved vinho verde since my introduction to it in Portugal during my honeymoon – we kept seeing it on menus and I finally asked what it was (thinking it might actually be green-coloured wine). Our server described it as a young wine and it was love at first sip, it's so delicious! This recipe looks lovely, and your pictures are really beautiful :)

    1. A honeymoon in Portugal? How lovely! I'm sorry to say I've never been. When I do I'm sure to drink too much of this wine. Thank you so much for the kind note! :)

  2. I have never even heard of Vinho Verde and it's a real shame because I am a huge fan of anything "frizzante"! :-) I will have to track it down and give this sangria a try since we are still enjoying incredibly warm weather. Thank you for sharing. How do you get your cucumber slices to float so perfectly, Alanna? Magic?

    1. If you like anything frizzante you will definitely love vinho verde! As for the cucumber slices, I layered them with the ice cubes, then as I was shooting I would give the drink a stir with the straw until I liked the shape that the goodies made. :)

  3. Lovely drink! I can feel how crisp and clean it tastes. I can totally relate that some ideas are only better in our head, but you gave me that push that we can work on that idea to make it perfect in real life. Thanks!

  4. This is exactly what I want to drink while it remains so stupidly hot! (We were in Portland over the weekend and it was 90F. WHAT.) Why yes, I will cram my face with crisp, cold wine and fruit. :)

    1. I love Portland! But that is way too hot, especially for us delicate Bay Area flowers. This heat wave has turned me into a cantankerous old man in my head shouting, "Pumpkin lattes? Damn kids these days!"

  5. This is the most perfect refreshing and delicious recipe for the upcoming summer here in Australia! Thanks for sharing the recipe Alanna! As usual I am obsessed with your photography.. definitely guilty of re-pinning these images too many times!

  6. Well, my lover is coming to Cancún (where I live) at the end of October and this sounds like the kind of drink I¿d make for our first date on the beach….

    Cannot wait! :D

  7. Just tried your Vinho Verde Sangria, and as I sip it have to congratulate you as its absolutely delicious! Im Portuguese and have access to all kinds of different and subtle Vinho Verdes and the more I try the more I love them. As you say slightly frizzante, or as we would say “com um espumante leve e fresco”… Tomorrow I will serve it to a girls lunch, which I think will go down a hit. Muito Obrigado!

    1. I bet that would work just fine; they’re both fairly neutral spirits. Please let me know if you try it!

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