Summertime is officially around the corner. With that warm breeze gracing our faces and the grass on the ground looking greener than ever, it's high time for BBQs and beach days. Along with all of that good food and great scenery, though, there's one more thing that many of us like to indulge in: the sangria.

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This wine-based drink actually has a long history in Europe, specifically in Portugal and Spain. In fact, outside of those countries, a sangria can't only be labeled a 'sangria,' but must be labeled with the country of its origin. For example, an Italian sangria or a French sangria. The time-honored trade of creating sangria is something that has been cherished for generations, and although it's a huge custom in the U.S. now, as well, Europe still upholds its historic tradition. Ready to have some more questions answered?

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What, Exactly, Is A Sangria By Definition?

The sangria as we know it has Spanish origins which is why it's considered a traditional drink for Portugal and Spain. It starts with a base of wine to which chopped fruit is added, along with the occasional spice or flavoring. It's all then left to steep over time, allowing the flavor and sweetness from the fruit to seep into the wine - which is traditionally a dry red wine.

This keeps the fruit from becoming too sweet as the beverage sits, although if it's preferred sweeter, then a sweet wine can be used. While many people use alternative wines such as white and rosé these days, at one point, red wine was the most common - and really, only - base for sangria. The most traditional sangria recipe uses a base of Roja wine which is mixed with chopped apples, melon, berries, peaches, and/or pears.

Who Created This Magical Beverage?

The exact origins of sangria are a bit muddled (no pun intended) but there are some theories as to how it was first created. According to Oxford Social Club, the origins of winemaking and vineyards, specifically, date all the way back to 200 B.C. The first vineyards were in Spain where the country's warm climate allowed the grapes to grow and thrive, which is how the region first gained its reputation.

Interestingly enough, history is not sure of the very first person to ever combined fresh, chopped fruit with wine. By the 1700s, the beverage was all over the place, though, origin or no origin. At this point, it was referred to as a wine 'punch,' with no specific name tied to it. As the years went on, Portugal and Spain became known for their version which was called sangria. In Spanish, 'sangria' means 'blood' which refers to the red wine that's used as the base of the punch. Although the sangria made its way to the U.S. post-WWII, it wasn't until 1964 when the punch became overwhelming popular when it was served at the World's Fair. So, technically, sangria fans can thank New York City and its most famous festival for encouraging the punch and helping to popularize it in the U.S.

What Kind Of Wine Is Best?

While sangria can technically be made with any type of wine, there are some loose rules in regard to how it should be made traditionally. By definition, sangria should be made with a base of either Roja or another type of Tempranillo-based wine.

When in doubt, simply go with your favorite semi-dry red wine that has fruity undertones. During the summer months, white wine can be more refreshing than red as red wine often sits and feels heavier in terms of a mouthfeel. Sparkling wine and rosé are also great options when it comes to brunchtime drinks, as well.

What Are Some Good Fruit Options?

If you're going non-traditional then a good pairing with white wine would be something like cucumber or lemon, with a bit of Sprite or 7-Up mixed in. Rosé flavors can be balanced well with sweet, but not overly sweet, fruits such as melon, citrus, and peaches. Red wine is a bit more versatile and opens up options such as strawberries and even pineapple for a tropical twist.

Berries and apples, along with peaches and pears, are the most popular for sangria, though, and the safest in terms of avoiding too many competing flavors. With that being said, some people like to incorporate different types of apples, such as granny smith, with wines that have an oaky, woody flavor. Overall, it really just depends on your preference and what fruity flavor vibe you're going for in conjunction with your choice of wine.

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