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For a patriotic toast, raise a glass of sangria

Celebrate Independence Day with a glass of this traditional Spanish favorite made perfect for the Fourth with this red, white and blue recipe.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Traditional sangrias are luscious, bold blends of fruits, wine and spirits, often served in pitchers or punch bowls. But this wonderfully refreshing summer drink from Spain and Portugal leaves plenty of room for improvisation.

An instant mock sangria is easily made by combining a splash of lemon or lime juice with a teaspoon or two of sugar in a tall glass. Add ice, then fill the glass with red wine and stir.

Beverage consultant Kim Haasarud offers dozens of riffs on sangria in her recent "101 Sangrias and Pitcher Drinks," including a New Zealand Kiwi Sangria, which combines sauvignon blanc, melon liqueur, kiwis and pineapple.

In her book, Haasarud also offers tips for speeding up sangria, which tastes best when allowed to infuse at least several hours. If you're short on time, she suggests lightly mashing some of the fruit, which releases the juices.

Another option is to heat the fruit in a small amount of simple syrup over low heat. Haasarud says this softens the skins of the fruit and helps them release their flavor. The fruit and syrup then can be cooled and added to the sangria.

This recipe for red, white and blue sangria from Haasarud's book comes together quickly and makes an attractive presentation when served in a tall glass pitcher.

For even more patriotic pizazz, buy a whole fresh pineapple and use a small star cookie cutter to cut star-shaped chunks of pineapple.

To make simple syrup (the sweetener used in many sangria recipes), combine 1 cup water with 1 cup sugar in a small saucepan, then heat until the sugar is dissolved. Cool completely before using.

Red, white and blue sangria
Start to finish: 15 minutes (plus at least 4 hours chilling)

Servings: About 7

1 bottle dry white wine

1/2 cup triple sec

1/4 cup citrus- or berry-flavored vodka

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup simple syrup

3/4 cup blueberries

3/4 cup hulled and sliced strawberries

3/4 cup raspberries

1/2 cup pineapple chunks

Combine all ingredients in a large glass punch bowl or pitcher and stir well. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours. Serve over ice.

Recipe from Kim Haasarud's "101 Sangrias and Pitcher Drinks," Copyright (c) 2008, Wiley