“A bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all the books in the world” – Louis Pasteur.
This post was sponsored by Austerity Wines and The FeedFeed but all words, opinions, and love of wine are my own.
I had my first sip of Sangria, when I was 15, fittingly in Spain. I don’t mean for that to sound obnoxious. I didn’t spend winters abroad or anything close to it. This trip came about by chance. My family was making amends for planning a Christmas trip to Vegas, forgetting to count me in, then asking if I would mind spending the holiday alone or with a friend because there was no room in the rental car…Merry Christmas. I may or may not have applied one of the finer guilt trips of my youth. So when my aunt and uncle offered to take me with them on their two week trip to visit my cousin in Barcelona—he did study abroad—I got to go. It was one of the best holidays of my life.
I’ll never forget being that age, sipping that sweet dark liquid in dimly lit restaurants feeling very grown-up. I loved the taste, I loved the cozy feeling of sipping wine over dinner, my hands still numb from the cold just beyond the fogged windowpanes. Mainly I loved that I could order wine with dinner and no one batted a lash. I felt at home being treated like an adult. Even at a young age I always felt more comfortable with adults—having a tendency to be inclined towards books and music and movies that no one my age was interested in. I was awkward, bookish, “weird”—forever an outsider. So it was a joy to feel so at home running around Barcelona without a chaperone, visiting museums, ordering wine with tapas or dinner each night, and relishing the freedom that exploring such a vibrant city at a young age can bring.
I’m thinking of those nights now as I sip today’s sangria. Spiked with luscious fruit—figs, pluots, plums, blackberries, blood oranges and more—and a bit of bourbon. I sweetened it with apple blossom honey and let it hang out for about an hour before enjoying. As I drink I can almost feel the chill of winter air on my skin, I can envisage the glow of late night tapas bars and lounges, feel the city pulsating with life just beyond my fingertips. Then I snap out of it—take note of my surroundings, and get back to my day. But for a moment, I’m elsewhere. It’s lovely to be transported by a recipe. Taking a bite or a sip and instantly being pulled into a memory of another place and time.
Sangria, while today associated with Spain, didn’t originate there. There is much debate as to the origins of this libation. I do know the name comes from the Spanish word for blood; sangre. But the drink itself can be traced back thousands of years to ancient Rome. The Romans would often infuse their wines with fruit and spices (called “Hippocras”) to help mask the strong flavor. Others maintain that the drink originated in the Caribbean and was introduced to the Spanish via trade routes. I don’t have the answers. But I love a glimpse into history.
Today’s recipe was made in partnership with Austerity Wine. While I’ve loved every bottle of their Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay I’ve tried, I have to say their Pinot Noir is my absolute favorite. Their 2016 vintage has earthy overtones with hints of cranberry and graham cracker. It’s bursting with ripe red fruit flavors and is a very balanced and delicious wine. I was excited to pair those notes with tons of fresh fruit for this recipe. I went to the farmer’s market and grabbed blackberries and a myriad of pluots (basically whatever looked seasonal or delicious). I was also able to find some figs and blood oranges which were a perfect match. Everything went into a pitcher along with some honey and a splash of bourbon. Finally, I added in some frozen cherries to help keep things chilled and also because of the rich dark juices they released as they steeped in the wine.
I wanted something rich and indulgent to pair with this drink so I decided to make a baked brie appetizer. Topped with dried fruit, walnuts, pomegranate seeds, and cinnamon sautéed apples this melted, creamy cheese was divine scooped up with crackers and crostini!
Perfect for a gathering with friends, an appetizer and drink around the holidays, or just a fun weeknight in with loved ones. As always this is an easy one to adapt. Use any combination of fresh fruits that you’d like for the sangria (apples, roasted and sweetened cranberries, pears etc.) You could also go for a savory topping for the brie; try bacon, pecans, sage, caramelized onions. There are countless ways you could make this your own!
I really tried to encapsulate fall with these recipes. Even though the weather here is anything but appropriate for the season, that hasn’t stopped me from embracing all that comes with Autumn. It certainly helps that this sangria enables me to conjure up memories of cold days and colder nights, of evenings spent chatting with my family or college kids over leisurely dinners and drinks, and of feeling completely cozy and at home.
Fall Sangria with a Baked Brie Appetizer
- 1 cup frozen cherries
- 1 cup sliced plums or pluots
- ½ cup blackberries
- ½ cup quartered figs
- 2 oranges or blood oranges, sliced
- 1 bottle of Austerity Pinot Noir, chilled
- ¼ cup bourbon, optional*
- ¼ cup apple blossom honey, optional*
Baked Brie with Fruit and Honey
- 8oz. wheel of Brie
- 1 cup apples, diced
- 1 Tbsp. butter
- ¼ tsp. cinnamon
- Pinch of nutmeg
- A sprig of rosemary
- 1 tsp. orange zest
- ¼ cup dried blueberries
- ¼ cup dried cherries
- ¼ cup pomegranate arils
- ½ cup walnuts
- ¼ cup honey
- Crackers or crostini for serving
To Make the Sangria
Place fruit in a large pitcher and add in Austerity Pinot Noir.
In a small bowl whisk the honey and bourbon together, if using, and add to wine. I find it’s easier to mix the honey this way.
You can serve right away but I find it’s best to let it steep for a bit beforehand.
To make the Brie
Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place Brie on parchment and bake for about 5-7 minutes, until soft and melted inside.
Meanwhile combine apples, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, rosemary, and orange zest in a small saucepan and sauté until apples are tender, about 3-5 minutes.
Combine cooked apples with the blueberries, cherries, pomegranate arils, walnuts, and honey and stir to combine. Mix them right away, the heat from the apples will warm the honey and make everything easy to incorporate.
Top Brie with fruit and walnut mixture right out of the oven, enjoy immediately with crackers or crostini and a glass of sangria!