By Brandon Hernandez
Photos by Brevin Blach
For many California oenophiles, the word "wine" conjures thoughts of what we know and what we're known for: earthy, smoky, Napa Valley cabernets.
The thought of diluting that may seem odd at first, but such apprehensions melt away after a few sips of Spain's chill adult beverage- sangria. This high-octane, wine-based punch, with its intense fruit-forwardness, is the perfect elixir to combat San Diego's late-summer sizzle.
To help you stay cool, here are two restaurant versions and a recipe to try for yourself-a veritable Red, White and You of San Diego sangrias.
At Wet Stone Wine Bar, a cozy, wine and small-pates eatery in Bankers Hill , owner, chef and sommelier Christian Gomez makes his Stonefruit Red Sangria with blueberries and, as the name suggests, nectarines, peaches and other soft-fleshed fruits with pits (or stones).
Wet Stone's sangria has created a big buzz-and not just for those who consume it. Gomez is in talks with a company interested in marketing and distributing his recipes for red, white and a recently- released rose? sangria made with pomegranates, strawberries and a secret Middle Eastern ingredient.
"I'm pretty amazed by the popularity of it," says Gomez, who goes through about 10 gallons of
sangria on a good night. "With San Diego being such a weather-friendly city, sangria is just a shoe-in and a complement to the lifestyle."
When it comes to sangria, few local spots mix up a more authentic version than Cafe Sevilla, downtown's premier destination for tapas, salsa dancing and Spanish culture since 1987.
Sevilla's white sangria (which started out as a summer-only drink, but became so popular that it's now served year-round) comprises a variety of liqueurs, enhancing the flavor of the oranges and red and green apple slices that give the drink its fruity backbone. Chief among them is Licor 43-a spirit made from 43 Mediterranean fruits and herbs-which adds additional citrus essences and a delicate hint of vanilla.
A RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
A popular hub for craft cocktails, La Jolla 's Whisknladle approaches its sangria with the same spirit of innovation. Based on the whims of mixologist Justin Hockmeyer, the restaurant's sangria changes almost daily. Today's favorite? Honey- Cantaloupe Sangria.
"I wanted to create a lighter, white sangria that you can enjoy during the hot summer months in San Diego," Hockmeyer says. "The inspiration behind it was to deconstruct some of the flavors in Sauvignon Blanc- honey, melon, thyme-and add those elements to it."
Honey Cantaloupe Sangria
2 1/3 cups cantaloupe, cubed
1 cup cucumber, chopped
1/3 cup honey
2/3 cup water
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bottles sauvignon blanc
Combine the fruit, honey and water in a blender and pure?e. Add the wine to the pure?e, then
refrigerate for at least two hours. To serve, pour the sangria into a glass containing ice cubes and fresh cubed cantaloupe.
353 Fifth Ave., Gaslamp
Wet Stone Wine Bar
1927 Fourth Ave.,
1044 Wall St., La Jolla