We don’t drink alcohol and we are vegetarian. This has a lot to do with our traditions and the cultural and religious backgrounds we come from. Our community traditionally promotes a lifestyle that is vegetarian and simple with prescribed kinds of meals/ cooking for religious and social observances which are a big part of our lives. Though things have changed much and many people don’t go by those “rules” any more, we have stayed vegetarian and teetotallers by choice.
Being vegetarian or a teetotaller does not mean that recipes that feature alcohol or non-vegetarian ingredients cannot be adapted to be alcohol free or vegetarian. Purists may turn up their noses at such attempts to “fiddle” with supposedly authentic recipes but I believe that one’s choices in food must be determined by what one can eat or drink and is really a matter of personal taste.
In that spirit (no pun intended), I present to you a non-alcoholic version of Sangria. I remember the one and only time I did take a sip of Sangria, much against my better judgement, when I was persuaded by someone to just taste it so I could see what it was about. I was terribly disappointed by that one sip. All I can say is that either it was badly made Sangria, or else the “real” Sangria is a very acquired taste I am unlikely to ever acquire.
Sangria is a wine punch traditionally made with Spanish red wine, sugar, orange, lemon, and fruit, usually peaches. Some people also add a bit of brandy or cognac while making Sangria. It is prepared ahead, generally allowed to sit overnight, which allows the Sangria to develop fruity flavours. It is always served chilled and is very popular during the hot summers though it is made and served the year round in countries where Sangria has become a national favourite.
Years ago, the Spanish took their Sangria along wherever their voyages took them so you can find Sangria pretty much a part of the local colour in Peru, Cuba, Argentina, Chile, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico as well.
Sangria is Spanish in origin and takes its name word “sangre,” which means blood referring to this drink’s dark red colour.
Sangria is one of those drinks which can take on pretty much any avatar depending on availability of ingredients so long as there’s red wine, a sweetener, orange and lemon, and fruit in it, which means it’s a really good way to showcase the season’s fruit.
There are different kinds of Sangria depending on the wine used to make it. Though red wine is typically used in Sangria, it can also be made with white wine and is then referred to as Sangria Blanca or Clerico. Some Sangrias are made with heavier red wines, and then white wine is used to “lighten” it. Sangria can also be made with mulled wine for “spicy” tones.
I looked at a lot of Sangria recipes, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, and then put together one that I felt would appeal to us. The basics to work with are mainly the colour and the taste. So the base must be blood/ ruby red like wine, and any red coloured fruit juice is a good place to start. Pomegranate juice, cranberry juice, red grape juice or even a mix of two or more of these all work well. Then one needs to replicate the tartness/ acidity of the wine which is taken care of by the tea and the lemon juice. Add honey and orange juice (and sugar if you use it) for the sweetness and you’re more or less done. Add the fruit and the fizz and your Sangria Punch is ready.
Juicier fruits tend to work better in Sangria so apples, peaches, pineapple, mango, kiwi fruit, oranges, etc are all good candidates. I have chosen to slice them very thin, but you can always chop them up into smaller, easier to eat sized pieces too. You can use sugar or honey to sweeten your Sangria and plain soda/ carbonated water or a lemon flavoured fizzy drink like Sprite or 7Up to add some zing to it.
Non-Alcoholic/ Virgin Sangria Punch