Article & original photos by Tabitha Fields
Summertime is hard to beat. Watching late night baseball games underneath the lights, dancing in cool mid-summer rain showers with the mud in your toes, the smell of fresh cut grass, the taste of…Sangria! These are a few of my favorite things. What better way to kick off the summer with a gathering of friends, sundresses, sandals and wine? Even better, a Summertime Sangria Showdown!
Every time I go onto Pinterest and do a simple search to find a recipe, more often than not, I end up being more confused or undecided on which recipe to make and with Sangria the choices seem to be endless. Which one to choose, which one is best?
That’s where I came up with the idea for a Sangria Showdown. To keep variables low I stuck with an all white wine leaderboard of recipes for summer. Each Sangria comparison within the white category used the same wine. A quest to find the favorite between the three categories: Rose, sparkling and white.
I am not one to follow any recipe or instruction word by word so I adjusted most recipes based on my own preferences, tastes and availability using the Pinterest recipes as guidelines. For all recipes I noted the author, if known, and the blog I found the recipe on. All photographs are my own.
I started with a trip to my local liquor store. I walk in on Friday afternoon only to be met with about 10 different sample tables. Thank goodness I had my teeth whitening trays in and couldn’t drink or else I would have probably never made it home after all of those samples. Next, a man working there glanced at the list impressed with the amount items I was there to purchased. I assured him over half the list was food and I was on my way to the grocery store afterwards.
The only questions I really needed help with at the store was finding out if peach schnapps and peach liquor are the same thing, they are not, and what simple syrup is. It is basically sugar water. We don’t have a lot of hard liquor at my home so I had to buy everything on the shopping list. I purchased the smaller bottles of liquor plus 6 bottles of wine and ended up spending $180 which also included a few of the juices, but if you have your own hard liquor on hand you will spend much less. The fruit and juices at the grocery store totaled $70, but I did have a lot of left over.
I made the Sangrias the morning of the party and chilled each one for about 3 hours. The instructions for all Sangria’s were basically all the same. In a pitcher, combine wine, liquor and juices. Adjust to suit your taste. Add fruit and refrigerate 3-4 hours. If Sprite is on recipe add after soaking. Serve chilled.
I also ordered these adorable Wine Glass Writers markers from wineglasswriter.com to label the glasses with the judge’s names and they were perfect for labeling the pitchers too. The markers worked best writing on the pitchers BEFORE adding the liquid, I learned the hard way that it is pretty tough to have pretty handwriting when you can’t lay the pitcher flat. The markers also worked best above the liquid line, it just looked nicer all around. I have had similar tasting parties in the past and having the name of the drink on the pitcher helped a lot not losing paper labels or signs. The markers came in a wide variety of colors which I tried to match to the color of the Sangria which gave a cute flare. I am definitely keeping a stash of these in my bar for future parties and holidays.
Let the showdown begin! As my judges, Chris, Debby, Allison, Mandy, Steph, Jamie and Jenny arrived everyone was given a line up of which Sangria’s were being compared and instructions to vote for their favorite of each category. Rose, Sparkling and white. Beyond that I asked for a vote of their all-around favorite!
Peach Rose Sangria vs. Strawberry Rose Sangria
A battle of the Rose. I chose the Chateau Ste. Michelle 2017 Rose which is described as dry, crisp and elegant on the label. I like this Rose as it is pretty dry especially with all of the fruit and added sugars in the Sangria. Both Sangrias had a beautiful color and the fruit popped. Both would be a delightful addition to a wedding shower or brunch. My favorite really did just come down to liking strawberry more than peach. The raspberry in the Peach Rose Sangria was lost and added nothing extra to the recipe. Debby commented that the peach liquor was a little over powering and really did not think there needed to be both peach juice and peach liquor. Her opinion was to choose one or the other based on how much alcohol you are looking for.
The votes for these two recipes was 5 votes to 3 for a Strawberry Rose Sangria victory! With votes by Jenny and Mandy as the all-around favorite. I would love to try this showdown again with the altered recipes. For the Peach Rose Sangria and Strawberry Rose Sangria recipes click this link.
Tropical Sangria vs. Mimosa Sangria
I paired these two recipes together because they both called for a sparkling type wine and orange juice. For the sparkling wine I chose La Marca Prosecco. It was a nice dry sparkling wine, something I would enjoy individually as well. The Tropical Sangria had a great variety of fruit in it and reminded me of something from the Caribbean. The alcohol was not over powering and it was very smooth going down. The taste of Mimosa Sangria was basically a Mimosa with some blueberries floating in it, I would have liked to see more of a variety of fruit in it. The color of the liquid almost seemed to turn a cloudy green and did not look very appetizing. Most of the Sangria recipes do look a bit cloudy and have some floaters in them from the fruit, but the color of this was not great. I’d love to try the Mimosa Sangria with a larger variety of fruit, which may cancel out the terrible color.
The votes for these two recipes was overwhelmingly 8 votes to zero for the Tropical Sangria. Jamie, Allison and Chris also voted the Tropical Sangria as their all around favorite.
White Strawberry-Lemon Sangria vs. Cherry Limeade Sangria
Who will win between the white wines? For the White Strawberry-Lemon Sangria and Cherry Limeade Sangria I chose Prophecy 2015 Pinot Grigio. Pinot Grigio is always my go to white along with a Chardonnay. For me the Pinot Grigio seemed fresher and lighter so I went with that. Right out of the gate both of these Sangrias are very pretty. Clear liquid and bright colorful fruit. I paired these two to battle over the citrus fruit. First taste of the White Strawberry-Lemon was exactly as I was expecting and it was delicious. Not overpoweringly fruity and the lemon citrus was perfect with the Pinot Grigio. I felt after tasting this one it was going to be the all around winner. And this seemed to hold true after the first sip of the Cherry Limeade Sangria, which was so strong on alcohol I could barely get it down. Looking back at the recipe next time I may cut the full cup of vodka down to ½ cup, but since it was already made I decided to dilute it a little bit with Sprite…I told you I went rogue on a few of the recipes. After adding the Sprite it was absolutely delicious. I thought nothing would beat the strawberry lemon because strawberry is pretty much my favorite fruit and I’m not a fan of cherry, but my vote was no question Cherry Limeade Sangria. Jamie commented that using the frozen limeade concentrate was more flavorful than adding the juices and suggested that if we did this again to use frozen concentrates for all added juices.
The votes for these two recipes was 6 votes to 2 for the Cherry Limeade Sangria. Tabitha, Debby and Steph also voted the Cherry Limeade as their all around favorite.
At the end of the evening, after a day being lazy in the sunshine, the votes came in as the Strawberry Rose Sangria winning the Rose category, the Tropical Sangria winning the sparkling category and the Cherry Limeade Sangria winning the white category. We had a two way tie between the Tropical Sangria and the Cherry Limeade Sangria, which I think that just came down to fruit preference as both had great flavor and lets be honest…can there really be a Sangria that is not good.