Save crappy wine by making this Ultimate Sangria

This recipe is modified from a giant batch recipe shared with me by Stephen Seibert, the mixologist who created cocktail recipes for Jose Garces' flagship restaurant Amada. The principles are simple — take dry wine, add brandy for proof and heat; triple sec and lemon juice for acid; and simple syrup for sweetness. A crappy sweet wine will take less syrup and more acid, so taste and adjust accordingly. Since sangria is typically made for a crowd and poured out by the pitcher, this recipe is based on a 1.5-liter magnum-size bottle of vino. Double it to make a 3-liter boxed-wine batch. You can use any fruit you like, or leave it out entirely.

Make sangria a few hours ahead of time and keep it chilled until serving. Pour over ice cubes and top with club soda to lighten it up. Or not. Either way.

Basic Sangria

Go Get This:

1.5L magnum of wine
2-4 cups cheap brandy, to taste
2-3 cups triple sec, to taste
1-2 cups fresh squeezed lemon juice, to taste
1/2 to 1 cup simple syrup, to taste (equal parts near-boiling water and sugar)
Pear and apple, brunoised (small dice)
Strawberries, halved
Blueberries, whole
Oranges, sliced in rounds
Club soda

Now Do This:

Pour the wine into a giant pitcher or jar, or work in batches in a smaller jug. Add the minimum amounts of brandy, triple sec, lemon juice and simple syrup and taste. Adjust as you like it. Stir in washed/sliced fruit and refrigerate until service.To serve, pour over ice cubes and top with club soda, if desired.

Vary the basic recipe by adding fresh-squeezed OJ, peach nectar or other juices, or by infusing the simple syrup with herbs or spices. Just be sure to scale back on the syrup to keep things in balance.

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