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Sangria: Fun and Festive Recipes    by Mittie Hellmich & Victoria Pearson order for
by Mittie Hellmich
Order:  USA  Can
Chronicle, 2004 (2004)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Though I have many fond memories of sipping sangria in outdoor cafés, from Barcelona to New York city, I've never made a jug at home to my satisfaction. I'm hoping to do better with this small book of Sangria recipes. Victoria Pearson's photographs capture the appeal of each frosted, fruity glass on a hot day.

Mittie Hellmich's introduction sets the scene by telling us how chilled sangria with tapas is part of the Iberian lifestyle. Apparently the Romans enjoyed the beverage in 300 B.C. Andalusia. Hellmich speaks of the 'adventuresome flexibility' of its variations. In 'Sangria 101' she explains the basics - use a chilled Spanish red Rioja; infuse with ripe local fruits for a few hours (avoid the pith in citrus fruits and seed slices); add brandy; and include fizzy water before serving (stir with a non-metal spoon); and drink in moderation.

Recipes are divided into sangrias with different wine bases - red, white, sparkling, rosé and Muscat - followed by tapas. I plan to start with the Classic Spanish Sangria recipe and work my way through the book. These red wine sangrias caught my eye: Fig, Cherry and Cognac, Ginger Pear and La Mancha (with strawberries and saffron). In the white wine set, these made me salivate: Blood Orange and Campari, Ginger Plum and Aquavit and Berry (though I may skip the one with jalapeno). Vanilla Bean Kumquat Sparkling Sangria sounds suitably exotic, as do rosé and Muscat combinations.

Of course, we need to linger over tapas while socializing and sipping together. The author suggests five and recommends which sangrias to pair them with. I'll start with Grilled Garlic Shrimp with Saffron, then enjoy Pears with Spanish Goat Cheese, Tomato, and Basil, and of course Classic Andalusian Gazpacho. After reading this book, I can't wait ... Bring on the summer! Bring on the sangria!

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