As much as I love sangria, I usually find that I avoid ordering it at restaurants, often choosing wine instead. The reason? Sugar.
I've mentioned it before, but I much prefer to eat my carbs than drink them. Given the choice between cake and a sugary drink, I will always choose the cake. Unfortunately, sangria doesn't give me much control in that respect. The recipes vary widely, but typically include ingredients like fruit juices, sugar sodas, simple syrups, sweet liqueurs or any combination of the above — all of which raise the sugar count of this fruity punch to levels beyond what I'm comfortable drinking.
Recently, I spent some time at a spa, where I indulged in a few glasses of cucumber and citrus-infused water. And that was when I got the idea: Wouldn't it be great to make a savory sangria inspired by spa water? Crisp, dry white wine infused with herbs, citrus and cucumber, with no sugar added. The drink would be refreshing and just as playful as sangria, but much healthier and lighter. A naturally low-carb sangria. It would even pair well with food!
When I got back to New York, I tested the idea, combining some crisp wine with muddled fresh limes, lemons, basil, mint and cucumbers. I chose my favorite vinho verde for this batch, but any light, crisp dry white will do. The trick is to let the wine infuse with the muddled fruit and herbs for about 20 or so minutes, before diluting it with ice and sparkling water. The result is fresh, light and just a little bit tart — perfect for summer!
- 2 lemons, washed and sliced
- 3 limes, washed and sliced
- 1 large green cucumber, sliced
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves, washed and patted dry
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, washed and patted dry
- 1 (750-millileter) bottle dry white wine
- 2 cups ice
- 2 cups sparkling water
Combine the sliced lemons, limes, cucumber, mint and basil in a large pitcher. Use a wooden spoon to muddle slightly to release some of the juices and natural herb oils. Pour in the wine. Stir and chill about 20 minutes, letting the flavors meld. Stir again, then add ice and top off with sparkling water. Serve immediately.