Summer’s over, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying a refreshing beverage. . Despite the length, this is actually a really easy recipe once you read it and make it once. It makes a lot of servings, and is very popular, even with people who ordinarily like wine or mixed drinks.

two 750ml bottles of red wine.
two 1-liter bottles of ginger ale (a single 2 liter is fine if you’re going to make it all quickly, it’ll go flat in a day once opened, and we want it to be carbonated)
2 cans orange-ish soda (I use Hansen’s mandarin lime)
1 1/2 cups gin
1/2 cup orange curacao
1 cup sugar
2-3 medium-sized oranges
2-3 lemons
3-4 limes
1 medium to large pineapple

Chopping fruit is the most time-consuming part. Slice off the ends, and go with full circular slices for the lemons and limes, and half-circles for the oranges. Slice the pineapple like this: Start by hacking off the bottom (maybe half-inch or so), and the crown (that’s the part with the leaves). The crown makes a nice hat, but since you haven’t made the sangria yet, probably no one is drunk enough to allow you to put it on their head. Save it for later. Set the pineapple on one flat end, and slice down twice to make four long wedges. Cut the core off each one, it’s a bit tough, then take each wedge, and slice the skin off lengthwise as thin as you can–we want as much of the fruit in the drink and not in the trash. Then you can cut the pineapple into chunks.

Depending on the season, or how immediate your need is for sweet, fruity booze, you might need to substitute canned fruit instead of the real thing. This is ok, although it won’t quite measure up to fresh. You’ll need about two regular-sized cans each of lemon, lime, and orange, and a largish can of pineapple.

Now we can start putting this stuff together, but first, here’s a few words about pitchers:

This recipe is much easier if you have two separate pitchers. If you don’t, you’ll need either a separate container to hold everything, or one large enough to hold 4 liters of liquid. The rest of the directions assume you have two. The other big thing is that the red wine will stain the ever-lovin’ heck out of cheap plastic pitchers. So you can use the more-expensive kind, or use red plastic, or simply have two pitchers dedicated to sangria.

Divide the fruit up evenly between the two pitchers, and add a bottle of wine to each one. I use merlot or shiraz (syrah) almost exclusively, but of course use whatever you like, the sweeter the better. Use a Spanish rioja for that authentic feel. Keep the price reasonable too–$50 dollar cabernets are for savoring by themselves, not for drowning fruit. Use your head here. I’ve taken to Yellowtail, an Australian label which is excellent for the task. It’s good, delicious, and is often very inexpensive. Don’t cheap out too much, though. If you wouldn’t drink it by itself, leave it on the shelf at the store–it’s no good here either. Whatever you choose, make sure to taste a little of each bottle before pouring. If it’s gone off, you don’t want to ruin your fruit.

Then add the sugar, gin, and curacao. The measurements are estimates, really, as you can really adjust the strength of the drink here. Some people like it stronger than others, and if you use too much gin, you can add some more sugar to balance it out. Stir them well to get that sugar to dissolve, and put them in the fridge. Here’s the hard part: wait. Give them a few hours if you can, to let the liquid soak into the fruit, and to let the fruit leech it’s flavor out into the liquid. If you can give the stuff 5 or 6 hours, all the better. If you are preparing a long time before you’re serving, or you plan on keeping this batch around for a while, you might want to consider removing the rinds from the citrus. After a day or so, they’ll start to leech bitterness out, and it’ll spoil the taste some.

When you’re ready to serve a batch, take it out, add 1 liter of ginger ale, a can of orange soda, stir very gently, and serve over ice and some fruit right from the pitcher. The fruit will have absorbed the flavor of the booze, and the pineapple especially will be very tasty. A nice trick for long-term sangria is that you can reanimate an already-mixed batch the next day by adding a can of orange soda for a little carbonation.

Goes great with paella (coming soon), or just about any kind of bbq. If you know someone with a pool and a bbq grill, promise them you’ll make this if they let you come over with a dozen friends and a couple of tri-tips.