I remember seeing a segment on Wild On about it back in high school. They made it out to be some magic elixir. The footage was even omitted of the guy making it. Well fine, I don't fuckin' care. They're probably sour anyway. (I haven't read the story, but I know the gist.)
Several years later, Matt was making... No wait, those were mojitos (I'll have to write about those another day). OK, I don't actually remember when I first had it. I do know that at some point Matt told me his recipe. Red wine, fruit, sugar, brandy, cinnamon. I made a test batch and liked it. I then wondered if I couldn't use white wine instead. So I made a big pitcher of red and a big pitcher of white and threw a party. I didn't have sugar, so I used Splenda (which I don't really recommend). I also had a juicer handy, so I was able to incorporate fresh juice, the pulp (I used only edible pieces - no cores/seeds) as well as chunks of fruit. Brandy. Everyone loved it. My only regret was using non-disposable cups.
Then came World Cup last year and Mike threw a party. He made sangria, and invited other people to try their hand at making some, too. There were several available, and I was lit. I don't remember which was my favorite, but I do know I learned that other spirits could be used profitably. The batch I assisted with used Bacardi Limon, which I can recommend.
I now had sangria fever. I started making it weekly, trying different alcohols, different fruits, different diluting agents. Oh yeah, that's another thing I learned. This time from Paul. His summer party was a hit, and I talked drinks with many people. One lady said she'd used vodka and pineapple in her sangria recipe (I'd be willing to try that) and another person swore by strawberries and oranges as the only acceptable fruit. After a few glasses I noticed I wasn't nearly as drunk as I would've been on my own batch. Was it that I was eating too? No. Paul came outside to refill the pitchers and I saw him pour wine, rum, and ginger ale over the fruit. Ginger ale? He was diluting it, bringing the alcohol level to somewhere around 6-7% instead of the probably 18% mine was.
But I wasn't done experimenting. After a Bloody Mary kick (these may warrant an entry) I was excited to try other spicy drinks. I decided to throw a jalapeno in my next sangria pitcher. Yes! I was hooked. I took it to parties and people either loved it or hated it. Or thought it was OK. (Do you miss Mitch too?) But mostly I loved it and others were sometimes willing to drink it with me. I also used a serrano once, but due to unfortunate circumstances, I was unable to serve that particular batch. So sad.
Right now I've got a bunch of fruit soaking in my fridge. They're floating in a mixture of light rum, triple sec, gold tequila, dark rum, more light rum, and some water (I wanted to cover all the fruit, but not completely destroy it). Tomorrow I'll drain the liquid, add a little more dark rum and then add the wine. And come next Sunday, it will be awesome.