Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sangria, a summer favorite

Seven spots to sip sangria this summer. Now say that seven times really fast without having sipped sangria. It will sound like you sipped on sangria at all seven places. Seriously.

The line-up: 1. Dali 2. Ole 3. Chez Henri 4. BarLola 5. Tapeo 6. Tory Row 7. Tryst

Of course there are countless places in and around Boston to enjoy Sangria, so this video is intended to be a mere highlight of a few special spots. Phase one of many.

But, before you watch Sangria!, here's a quick refresher course on the divine wine concoction, with some insight from a few local sangriologists.

A tasty wine fruit punch, sangria has origins in the Rioja region of Spain where it was named from the word sangre or blood, for its bold, blood-red tint. Originally served as a refreshing summer spritzer, sangria is a beverage that can be enjoyed throughout the seasons. It is typically made with a red wine base, fruit juice, soda water and fresh cut fruit. Potent variations -like the sangria poured at Ole- often include brandy, triple-sec or other spirits. Red sangria tends to be full-bodied and citrus-y with a hint of spice.

Rojan Pradhan, who has been a sangriologist at Ole for four years, has a "magic touch" that makes Ole's sangria stand out from others, says Maryann Ramos, the sister of Ole's chef-proprietor, Erwin Ramos. "It's not just our special recipe; he has a special way with sangria," she says.

Pradhan suggests that Ole's award-winning sangria pairs nicely with seafood dishes. "It's the perfect balance between light and heavy," he says. Ole's sangria is a house recipe made with merlot, malbec, brandy, triple-sec, peach schnapps, cut fruit and lots of love. Watch out, it's dangerous.

It is increasingly popular to see "white" sangrias, especially in the summer months, Pradhan says. White sangria is commonly made with a fruity white wine and a variety of fruit juices including orange, mango and pineapple. White sangrias are much lighter and fruitier than the traditional red, and are particularly popular in the summer. Ole's white is made with a dry white wine, a side of kickass atmosphere and sliced fruit.

Tory Row and Dali also have variations of a white sangria. Tory Row's is very citrus-y and is perfect for summer, the Row's sangriologist Tara Healey says. The classic and refreshing recipe, which is made with a bit of Harvard Square pizzazz, pairs well with the Spanish cheese plate. Dali's white sangria, which is served with fun, decorative straws, is made with cava, a sensual sparkling wine, fruit juices, fresh cut fruit and some love potion No. 9. It is very mimosa-y. Resident sangriologist Henrry Carbajal says the cava sangria is "more refreshing and relaxing" in the summer. "It transports you to another world," he says.

So does the red sangria at Tryst. A house recipe compliments of sangriologist Patrick Flaherty, this sangria pairs well with crab and avocado tacos with chili-lime dressing or house-made chorizo flatbread with poblano peppers. The sangria is served in a bowl of a wine glass and is made with spiced rum, triple-sec, double-macerated fruit and a splash of sophistication. Flaherty's co-sangriologist Mike Wilensky says the sangria "moves like crazy" in the summer. "If you put one up on the bar, it's a trend that spreads like wildfire." Chef Paul Turano is a big fan, too. "I love it. It is absolutely my favorite," he says.

And while you won't find sangria on the beverage menu at Chez Henri, but it can be made and it is dynamite. Bartender Rob Kraemer's response if you ask for it will be something like "Of course I'll make it. Who doesn't want sangria in the summer?"

Music: Senora Lola by Hector Lavoe

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