Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer's Better Half: White Wine Sangria

Mom may have hated the heat, but she loved summer. Swimming was among her favorite activities, and she relished slow, lazy days by the pool or at the beach. She also adored the summer drinks that went with such easy living, be it Sea Breezes or Molson’s Golden beer. For the most part, Mom’s favorite beverages required little expertise other than knowing what to order at the bar. (How I would cringe when she requested a “wine spritzer” flashing her dorkiest grin.) However, Mom was particularly famous for her white wine sangria.

Jeanne whipped this concoction up often during the Tortellini Salad era. As I mentioned earlier, I never sampled her sangria, since I was not even a tween. Hell, I didn’t even know what a tween was back then. What I do know is that for years after her passing, Mom’s white wine sangria would work its way into many a memory. “Your Mom was the best,” I have heard on more than one occasion. “She used to make this wonderful sangria!” It’s a legacy that would surely make her proud.

Unfortunately, the white wine sangria was conspicuously absent from my recipe box. I have often pondered what exactly she did. From what I have gathered, it was refreshing but not too sweet. I also remember seeing lots of fruit floating around in guests’ glasses. As I sweat out yet another afternoon at the playground, this all sounds too good to be true.

To recreate this dreamy concoction, I decided to do a bit of culinary research. Genius that I am, I started by typing “white wine sangria” into Nothing sounded quite right. Nevertheless, the 1973 version, which called for brandy, Cointreau, and 2 GALLONS of Zinfandel did catch my attention. I realized I needed to go to an expert source: My trainer Cedric.

As Cedric has coached me through the gamut of punishing workouts over the last two years, some of our best conversations have –ironically enough—revolved around food. Ceddy sure knows how to cook! And I remembered him fervently describing making a sangria in which he soaked grapes in vodka until they swelled up the size of golf balls. Golf balls!!! I think Mom may have met her match in Cedric.

So with all due respect to Jeanne’s sangria, I offer you its equal or perhaps superior: Cedric’s White Wine Sangria. Such a recipe feels particularly fitting to post today. Not just because it’s really %$#! hot, but tomorrow is actually the eighth anniversary of Mom’s death. I can think of no better way to mark such a day than to raise a glass of sangria to the wisdom of Jeanne. Cheers.

Cedric’s White Wine Sangria


1 peach
1 apple
1 orange
½ cup vodka
1 bottle of white wine (Pinot Grigio works well)
1 ½ cups orange juice
1 small bottle of club soda
¼ cup simple syrup (2 parts sugar, and one part water)

Soak fruit in vodka overnight
Bring water to a boil, and add sugar. Mix until sugar dissolves, and remove from heat. Let cool or refrigerate.
Mix fruit with wine, club soda, OJ, and simple syrup. Add ice, and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Serve by scooping fruit into wine glasses, and then pour in liquid.


  1. I am so sorry the recipe is lost to the ages. It was the best sangria I ever had. And yes, tonight I will raise my glass up high and toast your mom vibrant life and a second toast celebrating being one of Jeanne's ladies. Lord we had a great time.

  2. I love a good sangria and adding the peach is always delicious especially in the summer. I've a friend who added a can of frozen orange juice (remember those) and a splash of champagne and her sangria was fantastic. Let's have a sangria lunch soon. It's HOT!!! XOXO!!!

  3. Oooh. Jen that sounds awesome!!! I am in for that lunch.


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