Summer heat means a wide array of in-season fruit at affordable prices. Instead of making a fruit salad, why not drop that fruit in a pitcher and make sangria?

The sweet, fruity cocktail, which originates from Spain and Portugal, traditionally consists of wine, chopped fruit, some kind of sweetener and brandy. Newer versions of the drink often include Sprite, 7-Up or champagne to make it bubbly.

Terry Paschal, owner of The Wine Cellar in Anniston which carries ready-made sangria, said true sangria doesn’t have bubbles. Paschal recommends using a dry white wine or a dry red, then adding Captain Morgan Spiced Rum to the mix.

“The rum uses pure sugar cane, so it makes the sangria really sweet,” he said.

Paschal also suggested hosts refrain from using really acidic fruits, instead mixing red plum slices, blackberries or apple slices into the drink.

Because it’s so easy to make large batches, sangria is often used for entertaining. Paschal said the drink is best made in a big jar the day before an event, to let the fruit soak overnight.

For Thursday patio parties at the Vic Bistro in Anniston, Russell Goldfinger, director of food and beverage, said the bar pulls out a couple of different recipes.

“Peaches are pretty common in sangria because they taste good and they’re in season,” he said. “We wanted to try some fruits that people don’t usually see in the drink, though.”

Goldfinger usually uses thin slices of red or green apples, spritzing a little lemon juice on top to keep them from turning brown, he said, and the bartender usually adds apple-berry syrup made from juice concentrate on top of the entire concoction to make it sweet.

“Add a little sugar to it, too,” Goldfinger suggested. “Most people like sangria because it’s a sweet alternative to regular wine.”

One of the defining traits of sangria, though, is the recipe is easy to make and can be widely varied.

“Most people just walk in my store with a recipe in hand, and ask me what they need,” Paschal said. “I encourage them to have fun with it.”

Spiced Rum Sangria

  • 1 bottle of dry red or white wine
  • 1 cup of blackberries
  • 1 cup of red plums, chopped or sliced
  • 1 cup of oranges, chopped or sliced
  • 1 cup of spiced rum

Pour wine in a large serving container over fruit. Let it sit overnight. Add spiced rum to the mix in the morning.

— Terry Paschal, The Wine Cellar

White Sangria by the Glass

  • 5 ounces of chardonnay
  • 3 thin slices of apple
  • 4-5 raspberries
  • 1 canister of apple-raspberry fruit concentrate, available at local grocery stores (mixed with water to make a thick, sweet syrup)

Put the apples and raspberries in a glass and add ice on top to crush juice out of the fruit. Mix a couple tablespoons of the apple-berry syrup and the wine together and add to the glass. Makes one glass of sangria.

— Russell Goldfinger, Vic Bistro

Staff Writer Elizabeth Manning: 256-235-3550. On Twitter @emanning_Star.