Pitcher Perfect

I love classic wine cocktails for summer parties.

I’m not sure if wine cocktails are true cocktails, but these recipes are still ideal for summer fun and entertaining. My go-to is a white or red sangria. I tend to prefer my wine straight up, see here , but have been known to make a wicked sangria. (Umm, 3yr old’s Baptism party – should have made more). In the last few years I have enjoyed one of the best white sangria’s in town at Habana at The Lab, in Costa Mesa off Bristol. Their red sangria is a little too ‘boozey’ for my taste but I have seen many really enjoy it. Both of their Sangria recipes are top secret with hard to find ingredients, the manager told me so. For the record, if he would have told me, I would have shared it with you.

Would you like to make your own secret recipe? There really is a world of recipes to choose from. Here are a few to work with, tweak them by adding different fruits to make your own pitcher perfect sangria.

Red Sangria

A lighter red with bright acid and soft tannins is perfect for Sangria. I like to keep my sangria very simple with no brandy or added sugar. Simply pile in the fruit and let it steep overnight to allow the flavors to blend. A Pinot Nior would be dreamy to use. I suggest Turning Leaf, Castle Rock or Camelot, all under $10.

For each bottle of wine you’ll need:

2 medium oranges, washed, halved and thinly sliced

1 large peach or even better 2 nectarines , washed, pitted and diced

1 cup of strawberries, sliced

1 lime washed, halved and thinly sliced

White Sangria

Choose a white wine that is dry and fresh with good acidity, such as a Pinot Grigio, to build your drink mix. Because the wine already has some tropical fruit flavors, work with them and use fruits that will complement its taste. I try to find Mirassou Pinot Grigio, Columbia Crest Gr Est Pinot Grigio, or Gnarly Head Pinot Grigio ’08, all under $10. A spurlge purchase would be Luna Pinot Grigio at $15 a bottle.

For each bottle of wine, you’ll need:

1 medium orange, washed, halved and thinly sliced

1 large peach or even better 2 nectarines , washed, pitted and diced

1 mango, peeled, seeded and diced

2 kiwis, peeled and sliced

Combine the wine and fruit in a non-reactive container (glass or plastic -– no metal) and blend well. Put the sangria in the fridge and let it sit overnight.

Taste the sangria just before serving and add sugar if you want more sweetness. I find that the fruits release enough sugar for me, so I like to keep it just the way it is!

This last one does not belong in a pitcher, more like a champagne flute, but it is a year round favorite that is fitting for this post. It is a true favorite, I order these in restaurants saving me the left over Champagne bottle becoming stale in the refrigerator. Warning, it is difficult to have just one.

Kir Royale

For each Flute you’ll need

Cassis (1-2 tablespoons)

Champagne (about 6 ounces)

Raspberries fresh

Fancy curly lemon peel (optional)

Pour the Cassis into the wine glass, add a raspberry, add the Champagne, Serve. It’s easy to make, but the results can only be as good as the ingredients.

If the Cassis is added first, it is evenly mixed with the champagne. If the champagne is added first, the Cassis is not evenly mixed (due to the smaller volume of Cassis relative to the Champagne). The former approach gives a more even taste and is preferable from that perspective since the latter approach gives a more pleasing appearance with the uneven mixing of the Cassis resulting in a fine pink at the bottom of the glass shading up to a bright red at the top. Some establishments add a lemon peel twist, it is an exquisite enhancement. Try it!

The ratio of Cassis to Champagne depends on personal preference.

The official recipe for Kir Royal calls for one-third Cassis and two-thirds Champagne. However, most people find that this is far too strong in terms of taste, sweetness and alcohol contents. A pour of one part of Cassis to 5 parts of Champagne is preferred by most people.

Enjoy — it’s that simple and delicious!


  1. Ohhh I can’t wait for a pitcher of cocktails this weekend – you made my mouth water!

  2. The Pinot Grig + fruit sans sugar sounds way better than the liquid migraine-inducers I’ve been known to drink.


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