I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Autumn Sangria

It’s always nice to have a special something to welcome your guests.  And on a day like Thanksgiving, with lots of family and lots of work and lots of noise and lots of food, it helps if that little something special involves wine.

The idea of making sangria with dried fruit and sparkling soda came from friend whose family is from Nicaragua.  She brought a summer version to a party once and kindly shared her tips with me. I have adapted the idea over and over again for all sorts of occasions.  My favorite is this perfect Turkey Day tipple.

This is great pre-dinner sip before Thanksgiving, or any autumn meal.  I usually have few nibbles and a nice pitcher of sangria to serve while the last preparations for the big feast are being dealt with and everyone is gathered around catching up and telling stories and joking around.  The spiced syrup makes gives this sangria a warm, fall note and ginger ale adds a festive sparkle.

Autumn Sangria

The amount of ginger ale you use is up to you, depending on how strong you want the drinks.  I generally buy six pack cans or bottles and use as needed, so any leftover will store without going flat.

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

½ vanilla bean

2 whole star anise

½ teaspoon whole cloves

2 cinnamon sticks

2 (7-ounce) packages mixed dried fruit

2 (750 ml) bottles red wine

Ginger ale

In a medium saucepan, bring the sugar and the water to a boil.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Remove from the heat, drop in the vanilla bean, star anise, cloves and cinnamon sticks.  Cover and leave to infuse and cool.  When cool, pour the syrup and the spices into a jar, cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to use.  The spiced syrup will keep for a week.

The night before you want to serve your sangria, put the dried fruit into a large pitcher and pour over the wine.  Cover the pitcher with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Up to four hours before serving the sangria, strain the spices from the syrup and stir the spiced syrup into the fruit and wine. 

Serve over lots of ice in tall glasses, topped with ginger ale.  I’d say about 2/3 sangria mixture to 1/3 ginger ale.  You can add ginger ale to the pitcher, but if it is not large enough, mix the drinks in glasses as you serve.  Drop a few pieces of the dried fruit in each glass to garnish.

Easily serves 12, but will stretch to serve more

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