I’m a fan of sangria. It’s festive, refreshing and gives you endless possibilities. It’s essentially a wine punch, and sometimes that’s what I need my wine to have – some punch. There’s not much history on how Sangria was created other than it comes from Spain, but I can only imagine it was created as a way to make the wine supply stretch a little farther. Like all good things, necessity was the mother of invention. In any case, we can all enjoy the literal fruits of the labor of the sangria creators and we thankfully find it on most menus today.
Sangria is a great summer drink as it combines fresh fruit and ice along with wine and other liquids to create an oasis for the thirsty. I always picture glasses of sangria on decks or patios where you sip it underneath the warm sun, maybe watching the boats on the water. It has that kind of feel to it. But there are also plenty of wintery versions too which take some of the homey, cozy tastes of the season, like apples and cinnamon, and mix it with the wine. It’s a bit of a different flavor, but still brings the festiveness of a punch but with a warming sensation. That’s pretty versatile. There are sangrias with red wine, white wine, even rosé. I like to stick with the summery red version. That’s what I made tonight.
I started with some sangria wine which I bought at the local package store. I used Eppa SupraFruta sangria, although you can really make sangria with any kind of wine. The Eppa had juices already mixed in to the wine (organic juices too). I poured about half the bottle in to a pitcher and then added some ice. I topped it with some fresh squeezed orange juice and some Lemon Lime soda from Goya (I was trying to stay true to the Spanish roots of the drink), plopped in some fresh oranges, blueberries and strawberries and than topped it all off with some triple sec and watermelon schnapps. I poured myself a giant glass and was ready to celebrate.
Lola was home too and was chatting with our nephew Sam who was home from college and swung over for a visit. I gave Lola a glass and forced a little sample taste on Sam so he could he could be part of the festivities. I have to say, this was one of the best sangrias I have ever made. It was just good. Fruity, refreshing. Not too boozy and not too juicy. It just blend together perfectly and I f I was celebrating National Sangria Day, I really nailed it. Sam and Lola thought it was good too, so a success.
The sangria must have filled us full of holiday cheer because we decided to head out to play some trivia at Aidan’s Pub in Bristol. They feature bar trivia every Tuesday and we have gone there on occasion to join the fun. We figured why not take a break from the hustle and bustle of the holidays and have some fun. Sam had gone home to have dinner with his family but we convinced him to come meet us there afterwards and join the fun, so it would be the three of us in a battle for the trivia championship.
Lola and I got there at about 7:30 right before the games started. The place was pretty full but the hostess found us a high top and we had a spot. I was already to have a nice cold beer, but Lola pointed out that they had a sangria on the menu and one of my prime directives of this quest is if whatever item I am celebrating should make itself available, I am obligated to order it. So I ordered up their Pink Sangira which was made with Stoli Razberi, white zinfandel, Absolut Citron and lemonade. This would be my first taste of white zinfandel since the early nineties, so I wasn’t too excited. Nonetheless, it wasn’t too bad. It really just tasted like a fruity punch and didn’t really have a wine taste. A nice refreshing cocktail and another celebration.
Lola showed more seasonal sensibility and ordered a hot chocolate with some coffee liqueur which she said was fabulous. We played a few rounds and then Sam showed up to help anchor us for the rest of the way. In the past we’ve had some slow service during trivia at Aidan’s but it looks like they have addressed that because our server was very much on top of everything. That led to some good trivia playing. We started out strong and got maximum points in round one, but hit some tumbling blocks in the next two rounds. We did fairly well on the halftime bonus question and after the half, we were in fourth place about 8 points off the lead.
We worked well as a team. What I didn’t know, Sam or Lola could usually come up with and when we were all stumped, we worked things out diplomatically and rationally. Lola pulled out the best answer of the day by being able to name the 2004 R&B Best New Artist Grammy Award Winner (John Legend). That gave us a nice little boost. We were at an advantage because the three of us represented three different decades, so we had a robust knowledge base. When it came down to the final question, we found ourselves in a three way tie for first place. The final question was name one of three bands that were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016 (besides NWA and the Steve Miller Band). I knew this one! Watching the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony is one of my favorite things to watch every year! Within seconds I wrote down Chicago and Cheap Trick. I couldn’t think of the third (Deep Purple), but we only needed one, so I knew we nailed it. I handed in our answer and we waited for our crowning moment.
But one of the other first place teams knew this too and we ended up in a two-way tie for first place which meant a showdown question. That question was more challenging: What year did Ripley’s Believe It or Not feature first appear in newspapers? Tough. There was a previous question that said Ripley’s museum opened in 1950 so we used that for the basis of our guess, and a guess it was. We went with 1939. The other team went way earlier and guessed 1899. The answer was 1919 which is just about equal, but the other team beat us by one year! So close. We ended up winning a $15 Gift Card for our second place finish which was nice, but a win would have been better. Not to be a sore loser, but the other team had like eight players. It’s ok though, they won fair and square.
That’s how we celebrated Sangria Day. We had some great sangria and we had a fun night out. It felt good to take a break form the holidays and enjoy some silly fun. Sam is always good company too, and a good trivialist, so it was good to be out at a bar with him and having some laughs. There were a hundred of other things we could have been doing, but escaping for a few hours can sometimes be a needed distraction. Plus, we have a $15 gift card to show for our efforts. We hope the days ahead bring us more breaks for fun too, because we could all use some. And if those breaks come with some deliciously refreshing wine punch, that will make it even better. Cheers!
Up Next: National French Fried Shrimp Day