Taming the Fiery Argentine Within: A Lesson in Sangria and Clericot

TL;DR Sangria/Clericot Recipe:

1. Refrigerate good quality wine
2. Chop up fresh or frozen fruit. Add to pitcher.
3. Macerate with Sherry or Grand Marnier
4. Add wine and more liquid if necessary (juice, liqueur, or go buy yourself some more goddamn vino)
5. Refrigerate.
6. Serve no more than 6 hours later.

Tchin tchin!

I would like to take this moment to point out that Red Wine, Orange Juice, Sprite, Peach Schnapps, and Rum-macerated fruit is not Sangria. It’s tasty, yes, but as a blogger of partly Argentine ethnicity and as a purist, I turn my nose up at you and scoff in derision.

I grew up with a wine connoisseur (or snob, the terms are interchangeable) and before I was even of legal drinking age, there could easily be a pop quiz before dinner on the varieties of wine grape in the Loire valley or the Cote du Rhone (Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon blanc, and Syrah, respectively). My father had oodles of fun listening to me read the labels of french wine in my typically-anglophone Montrealer french accent, and even more fun listening to the descriptions of wine from my sister and I. Naturally, I had no idea what I was talking about but it amused him nonetheless:

-“dry, with hints of grapefruit and… is that cinnamon? Perfect sweetness. This would go nicely with dinner”

-“mm… hints of currants, but a bit too full-bodied with an oaky aroma. Definitely a meat and potatoes wine”

-“a bit too robust for a merlot, but then I’ve always preferred the softer california grape” (PSYCH! I stole that from The Parent Trap)

and my personal favorite, an anecdote from my mother:

“… I think I’ll just cook with that wine” (in the grand narrative of wine, this is the ultimate insult. Just bear that in mind)

Also insulting: using really good wine or really shitty wine for Sangria. It’s just not okay. The reason for this is simple. Sangria in Argentina and much of South America is like an afternoon beer in the summer in Montreal. You drink it because it’s cold, delicious, de rigueur, and allows you to surround yourself with good company. It’s not the vehicle for which to continue your perpetual state of drunkenness.

sangria
This is some fancy stuff. Have a care.

Sangria should have two ingredients: wine and fruit. If it’s a shitty wine, you run the risk of making an undrinkable concoction that demands more sweetener than necessary. And the best part? This problem is completely and 100% avoidable. Good wine doesn’t have to break your wallet and leave you homeless. The SAQ (Société des Alcools du Québec) offers sweet deals on red wines that are okay for drinking but even better for making Sangria with (you can either pay $10.00 for that bottle of Chilean wine with the little Horseman on it–Caballero– at your local depanneur and suffer through bitter sangria, OR head to the nearest SAQ and ask someone for a cheap alternative; something LIGHT and FRUITY. I guarantee that you are going to find something infinitely better for the exact same price).

Now, here’s the thing: I don’t like red wine.

“But that’s a gross generalization!” you say.

No it’s not, is my curt reply.

I know for a fact that I don’t like red wine because in my short lifetime I must have tried over 100 different red wines and I have come to the conclusion that I don’t like wines that are full bodied and oaky with a bitter aftertaste (the mark of a good wine) and this is what a typical red wine tastes like. Of course, I have tasted the occasional exception, but I am most certainly a white wine person. So that leaves me in a bit of a pickle; what do I do with all this fruit and no red wine to mix with it?

Behold: the wonderful world of Clericot. If you brushed up on your spanish, your french, or basic etymology, you can probably figure out what clerico is: Sangria, root word Sangre, is red (like blood muhahahaha), whereas Clericot sounds suspiciously like the word Claro, or clear. Similarly to Sangria, if you make Clericot with a shitty wine, you will get a shitty drink. The thing about white wine is that it can be so much better suited to the summery beverage if you think about some of the characteristics of good white: its gentle sweetness, mild flavor, subtle fruitiness, and refreshing qualities when it is refrigerated. Sounds pretty good, amirite? When you have a wine as good as that, it’s totally unnecessary to add juice or any sweetener whatsoever (unless its for filler purposes but even then I fart in your general direction).

clericot

Now, if you just want a sweet beverage to serve to guests at a party who don’t really care what it tastes like as long as its sweet and fun to drink, by all means buy an el cheapo wine, a can of concentrated orange juice, some sprite, load that sucker up with strawberries macerated in peach liqueur for half an hour or so and put some gummy worms in for good measure. However, having tasted this before (for anyone who has read My Quirky Camp Adventure before I removed it from the internet you may have noticed that I was drinking that before my split-decision to work at a summer camp for two months), I can assure you that while it is tasty, it also induces headaches and terrible decisions (as witnessed by some fellow staff members at a friend’s party in Ottawa at the end of the summer).

However, being the snob that I am, I implore you to give this recipe a try, simple as it is. Here’s how you make delicious Clericot:

1. Buy a bottle of White or Red Wine, this recipe is good for both types, and put it in the fridge.

2. Buy fruit (or steal frozen fruit from your friends). Clericot is particularly good with: blueberries, strawberries, grapefruit, mango, apple, litchi fruit, sweet cherries (hold the maraschino cherries, those are just gross), and oranges. If you’re feeling adventurous, chop up some cucumbers, mangoes, basil, and mint for a refreshing summer cooler.

3. Chop up aforementioned fruit and put it into a large pitcher. Add a generous amount of Grand Marnier (or Xeres–Sherry– or other liqueur) and let the fruit sit for a little bit.  Don’t you dare put peach or banana liqueur in this or I swear to Sherry, I will haunt you for the rest of your miserable existence. I’ve tasted Sangria made with Rum-macerated fruit which was both delicious and headache-inducing so be careful. If you’re making this for an afternoon shindig, go easy on the alcohol and omit the liqueur altogether.

4. Take the wine out of the fridge and pour it into the pitcher with the fruit. If it looks like you don’t have enough liquid, you have three options: add more wine, add more liqueur, or chop oranges and grapefruits in half and make yourself some freshly squeezed juice. If you opt for more juice, bear in mind that the Sangria or Clericot is going to lose its clarity but if you can live with that, so can we. If you want to speed up the cooling process, use frozen fruit instead of fresh fruit, it’ll still taste great.

5. Put it in the fridge for a couple hours (try not to make this the day before as the fruit gets way too soggy and kind of gross) and serve in glasses. Salud!

The pinkish hue is the product of a mixture of frozen blueberries coloring the wine and added orange juice because we had a shitty white wine.
The pinkish hue is the product of a mixture of frozen blueberries coloring the wine and added orange juice because we had a shitty white wine.

Recipes will often call for simple syrup but if you’re putting citrus fruit juice in it, the syrup becomes redundant. On the other hand, if you want to serve a perfectly clear Clericot, omit the citrus and add some simple syrup for sweetness.

Drink responsibly now, y’all.

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