Friday, April 30, 2010

Sangria makes perfect warm weather drink

It will be staying warm soon, and with that, it's time for outdoor parties, barbecues, showers, weddings, etc. A perfect drink for any of these or more casual afternoons on the patio is sangria.

Originating in Spain, sangria gets it's name from the Spanish word for blood - sangre and is usually made with red wines, although you can make awesome sangria from white, rose, or sparkling wines. A beautiful thing about sangria is that besides a few common ingredients, you can adjust your recipe to what ingredients you have available and to your taste. Don't bother with the "Sangria Wines" out there, it's too easy to make fresh, great tasting sangria yourself.

Basic sangria consists of wine, fruit, and some sort of bubbly water or citrus flavored soda. Many recipes add brandy and/or orange liqueur (or triple sec). A good proportion being a shot and a half of brandy per 1 bottle of wine and/or a shot or so of triple sec. Again, let your taste determine how much booze you add - start with a little and you can always add. On a hot, humid day you might want to avoid the higher proof ingredients all together.

Here's a list of ingredients to get you started:

Large pitcher (clear is best so you can see all the nice colored fruit and wine)


1 bottle of inexpensive, fruity, less tannic red wine like a Spanish red, or Syrah, or if needing large quantity and going cheap Gallo Hearty Burgundy in 1.5L or larger will work fine. For white sangria try a pinot grigio, riesling, cava, or moscato.

1-2 cans Sprite, Fresca, Sierra Mist, 7-up (add to taste)

1 lemon, 1 lime, 1 orange cut into small slices (save some for garnish). Grapefruit, apples, peaches will work also. Strawberries are nice in white sangria.

Brandy, Orange liqueur (Grand Marnier, triple sec)

Sugar (to taste)

Mix ingredients and serve over ice. If you have time, mix the wine, fruit and booze together and set in the fridge for several hours, then add the soda before serving.

If you're looking for good Sangria locally, a place with a fantastic reputation is La Bodega - 703 Southwest Boulevard, (816) 472-8272. Stop in, have a pitcher of Sangria, some tapas, and who knows, maybe they'll share some of their sangria making secrets for your next batch of sangria at home.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

New 3 liter Box Wines Great Value and Convenience

Inexpensive, mass produced box wines have filled retailers' shelves for many years. Labeled as varietal (e.g., Chardonnay, Merlot, White Zinfandel, etc.) and blends like Crisp White and Chillable Red, they've developed a loyal following, especially the 5 liter size.

Within the past several years, we've seen more, higher quality, but also higher priced, 3 liter box wines. And, thankfully, quality box wine is no longer an oxymoron. These 3 liter boxes contain the equivalent of 4 regular size 750ml bottles and are quite often nice, good value wines.

One producer, Delicato, has had success with their Bota Box line. Available in 3L recycled paper boxes, Bota Box wines are now available in at least six varietals including a new red Zinfandel.

A more recent development on the box wine scene is the Octavin Home Wine Bar - a tall, eight sided "wine cask" containing 3 liters of what they refer to as "premium artisan wine." The folks at Octavin also claim that this new box design reduces packaging waste by 85% and carbon emissions by 55% compared to glass bottles.

Of the six brands of wine they currently offer, you might recognize a couple - Big House Red and Big House White. These are both fun, easy drinking blends (the red containing 12 varietals, the white 8) which when only available in 750ml bottles retailed around $10. These guys in the Octavin go for $16-$20 for 3 liters. Not only a nice savings per bottle (divide $20 by 4 and you're looking at a $5 per bottle) and the wine will stay fresh for up to 6 weeks.

Big House Red and Big House White are both available at Lukas Liquor Superstore at 135th Street & State Line Road and Cellar Rat in the Crossroads District at 1701 Baltimore Ave.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010 - Kansas City Budget Wine Examiner is a national website with local focus. With hundreds of cities represented coast-to-coast local examiner web pages are able to bring people the inside scoop on a variety of news related, current events, lifestyle topics, etc. Each market has local "Examiners" that submit articles pertaining to their particular area of expertise. I have been selected to write as the Kansas City Budget Wine Examiner
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