In 2011 I went backpacking around Europe and the UK. Whilst I had the absolute time of my life at every place I visited, part of my heart was definitely left in Spain. My world completely changed around me for the better. Maybe it was the culture I was already so aligned with, the friends I made that become family or the insanely awesome food, Sangria and music I fell in love with. The moment I stepped off that plane, it just felt like home. There’s no other way to explain it.
After waking up to the first summery Sunday yesterday, I was on a mission to make my favourite home made Sangria (and because I didn’t have all the ingredients for a proper seafood Paella, settled on freshly made chili mussels to complement it for dinner). One of my favourite memories traveling throughout Spain was bar hopping through the afternoon into the night to try as many different varieties of Paella and Sangria as possible. Every place I went to came complete with authentic Spanish music that really set the scene. Yesterday, I wanted to recreate that feeling again. But how do you make Sangria? Authentic, tasty Sangria? Keep reading to find out more!
Probably something I should do more often is listening to music whilst cooking (or making Sangria). Music to cooking is like coffee to your Monday morning; it injects a level of energy and fuels the creativity. Not to mention it makes it all a whole lot more fun too! Some would easily say that pairing your music with food is an art.
So my summery Sunday afternoon turned into a ‘Sangria and Santana’ one, with good reason too. Carlos Santana is unquestionably one of the greatest guitarists of all time. Frontman of his band Santana, he was born on July 20th 1947 in Autlán de Navarro, Mexico – consequently, many of his songs are sung in Spanish tongue and create that same Latino-Spanish, salsa and blues infused vibe I love so much.
Inspired by a diverse range of musical influences from renowned jazz singers to the rock n’ roll blues, Santana intimately links his memories with the music of his home, resulting in classic Mexican tunes that speak primarily through his melodies and riffs. For someone that tends to get so lost in the lyrics of a song, I can safely say Santana can capture and hold you in a moment by a strike of a chord. It’s absolutely bliss.
The Ultimate Sangria and Santana Mix:
Put Your Lights On:
Performed by Santana with Everlast singer Erik Schrody, this track is off the Supernatural album released in 1999 and is seductive, sweet and sad all in one. It’s definitely a favourite of mine and every listen is like hearing it for the first time again.
Sung by Citizen Cope (American singer/songwriter Clarence Greenwood) this song has always been a track I love. Then I got introduced to the Santana version and boom! That extra passion and goose bump driven guitar playing will blew my mind. It will blow yours too.
Samba Pa Ti:
Easily the best Santana track without lyrics, Samba Pa Ti is beautifully moving, focused and breathtaking. Watch the live in Mexico video below!
Also off the Supernatural album, Smooth is written and sung by Rob Thomas (Matchbox 20), inspired by the Elton John song – Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters. The track has a swing to it that’s inescapable and creates a mood of its own; a steamy soulful jam that sticks with you.
One of my ultimate favourites, Maria Maria combines Spanish and English into a tune that creates a relaxed and happy atmosphere. A few years after the song was released, Santana opened up a chain of music-themed Mexican restaurants he named after the song.
You Know that I Love You:
The first single off the 1979 Marathon album, this song is a feel-good track that portrays a much different style to Santana.
Oye Como Va:
A song so closely related to Santana, Oye Como Va written by Tito Puente (The King of Mambo) in 1963. It was very quick to evolve into one of Santana’s signature songs when he did a rendition in 1970, in addition to Evil Ways and Black Magic Women.
What Drink Pairs Perfectly with Santana? Sangria of Course! Here’s a Few Authentic Sangria Making Tips:
You don’t need to spend a lot of money on the red wine. Opt for cheaper ‘clean skins’ – the drier, the better.
Use white rum and red wine for that extra kick.
Many people use lemonade as the base, but this is where they go wrong – it’s too sweet. Proper Sangria should get its sweetness naturally from the fruits and the sugar that you put in it. To get that fizziness use sparkling apple juice with a no added sugar orange juice. Alternatively, you can use soda to replace the sparkling apple juice but it’s not as tasty.
Spend time making sure the sugar is dissolved properly. Crush it with a herb crusher and leave it to melt in a small amount of hot water (enough to cover the sugar). Once it begins to fine out, add the sugar to the red wine and rum to soak and stir it through thoroughly. Use raw sugar over processed white sugar. Not only is it healthier for you, but it doesn’t make the Sangria sickly sweet.
Cinnamon sticks are key! Not only do they add to flavor, but they look great too.
Load your Sangria with fresh fruit. Apples, pineapple, lime, peaches and orange are ideal or use whatever is in season at the time.