Hibiscus Sangria

When I moved to California, I learned 3 things very quickly:

1)   A whole, steamed artichoke is a complete dinner.  Be sure to dip each leaf in mustard butter between sips of white wine for the full the experience.  My best friend Esther taught me this on day 5 of living in California.  Someday, I’ll share the story about our instant friendship that began on day 1.

2)   During most months of the year, people will try to pawn off extra produce from their garden on you.  At first, I had a hard time saying no because the variety of local produce was so new and exciting to me. Eventually, though, I learned to say no to 8-pound zucchinis.  But, for the record, I will never say no to citrus (even though I have 3 orange trees in my own yard).

3)  It’s not a party without wine and cheese.  But don’t be snobby about wine—Californians aren’t.  I’ve always said that the only snobby people in Napa are the tourists.  I’ve enjoyed $8 bottles at parties just as much as single-estate vintages.  Drink what you like; it’s supposed to be fun.

Well, I don’t have to tell you that it didn’t take long for me to get used to the wine and cheese lifestyle.  I really, really adore red wines.  Even though it’s not very ladylike, I enjoy thick red wines like Cabs, Barberas, and Carignans.  In an effort to make red wine lighter for the summer, I created this hibiscus sangria.

Hibiscus flowers are common in Texas grocery stores due to the Tex-Mex fusion.  Look for them in the ethnic foods section of your market next to the dried chiles in plastic bags.  They may be labeled with their Spanish name flor de Jamaica.  They are very tart and bursting with vitamin C.  I love their floral accent in sangria.  Think of them as you would tea leaves:  steep them in boiling water until a rich red liquid forms.

Hibiscus Sangria
 
Makes ~ 3 cups, or a half-pitcher.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup grapes, washed and de-stemmed
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • ¼ cup dried hibiscus flowers
  • 1 heaping tablespoon sugar
  • 2 cups cheap red wine
  • 1 large ripe peach, thinly sliced
Instructions
  1. Place the grapes on a parchment-lined plate in the freezer.
  2. Pour the boiling water over the hibiscus flowers, cover and allow to steep 15-20 minutes. Whisk in the sugar until it dissolves.
  3. Pour the red wine and sliced peaches into a small pitcher. Strain the hibiscus tea over the top, discarding the flowers.
  4. Chill this mixture until ready to serve.
  5. Stir in the frozen grapes, and enjoy while watching the sunset.


Comments

  1. says

    4. Avocados are abundant!

    There is so much about California that is different for folks moving here from elsewhere. I love all of our year-round fresh produce though :) This is a terrific flavor idea for Sangria! I’ve made so many different versions in the past but never with Hibiscus!

  2. says

    Now this may be good cause to move my heavy hibiscus plant back in the sun (to flower?) cause it stopped flowering in the shade…where I really wanted that plant in my courtyard. I just need to learn to dry this flower for this drink! It’s good to know there’s a good usage for this gorgeous flower which falls off fairly quickly from the plant!

    I studied bartending many years ago to supplement my food catering course…I was 9 mos. PG when I graduated from bartending! One thing I learned was that unless you’re very serious about becoming a wine expert, don’t even bother trying…just enjoy it! By the way, I don’t remember very much about that course!

  3. says

    This is an amazing twist on Sangria — thanks for including the sunset in the recipe :) — and for the “grape ice cubes!” Aaaahhh….

  4. says

    Oh my goodness! This sounds like an amazing twist on sangria and something that I definitely need to try for myself. I’ve never seen Hibiscus flowers in our grocery store before, so it might be out of the question, but if I can find them, you better believe I’m making this.

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. says

    I love your wine advice – completely agree with #3. I’ve had the most amazing experiences shared over wine in Napa or Sonoma, and the price of the bottle didn’t figure in to the equation at all.

    I just happened in to some hibiscus syrup. Thanks for this fantastic idea for using it!

  6. says

    this looks just lovely! i love serving sangria at a party because it seems like it’s always a huge crowd-pleaser with the men + women alike (which isn’t always easy to do). this might be a nice way to change it up (although i probably shouldn’t tell the guys there are flowers in there). thanks for a fun new idea!

  7. says

    I have never eaten an artichoke that hasn’t come from a jar. I guess I really need to try a steamed one sometime soon if you could eat them for dinner! :)

  8. says

    I WISH I had neighbors pawning off fresh produce to me! Guess I need to get out of the city and move to the burbs :) I LOVE the idea of hibiscus in sangria; this looks so pretty!

  9. says

    Hi Christina,

    This is my first time on your space and I am totally hooked. I just wanted you to know that you are doing a wonderful job by coming up with such classic recipes but scaled down to serve two people. A recipe just can’t get any better than this. Keep the creative juices flowing :)

  10. Esther says

    This looks amazing! How has it slipped under my radar? And I always think about you now when we have artichokes ;) The mustard butter sauce is the best!

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