Those who grew up in the Deep South, where temperatures often soar to more than 100 degrees in the summer, heard the “fry the egg on the sidewalk” thing with regularity.
Most Southern children have tried such an experiment, and found it impossible to cook one’s breakfast on the pavement. Their findings have not deterred media weather persons from trying this experiment over the years on live TV.
Though it feels hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk, technically the sidewalk would have to reach 158 degrees for this to occur.
When barbecuing and pursuing summer activities, it is tempting to reach for a cold libation containing alcohol, but beverages high in alcohol — like distilled spirits, big red wines or even the proverbial cold beer — might not be the best idea for dealing with summer heat. The alcohol in these libations heats us up and dries us out.
Plain old tap water is best for keeping hydrated, but water is not a particularly celebratory drink.
The late W.C. Fields, a noted celebrator, said of water: “I don’t drink it because it could become habit forming.”
I do recommend drinking lots of water in the summer, but I don’t recommend giving up wine, and neither do your local wine stores and restaurateurs.
Summer is the time for lighter wines, especially white wines like moscato or white wines from Orvieto, a region in Italy known for its innocuous, low-alcohol wines.
But summer is also the time for experimenting with wines, incorporating them into lighter libations like sangria.
Originating in Spain, sangria is a wine punch. The word “sangria” comes from “sangre,” the Spanish word for “blood, indicating that the original version was made with red wine.
Red wine is still the preferred starting point for sangria, but white wine is used as well.
There are few exact recipes for sangria. I prefer a red wine base and most often opt for an inexpensive Spanish red. But any dry red wine will work.
Most sangrias contain wine, several fruits and/or juices, and sweeteners.
I make simple sugar syrup using equal amounts of sugar and water, nuked in the microwave until the sugar dissolves. Simple syrup incorporates more easily into the mixture than does plain granulated sugar.
Some like fizzy sangria; ginger ale, sparkling wine or even 7-Up will do the trick.
Often, a potent spirit is added, such as a fruit brandy or liqueur, but I usually forgo the hard stuff.
This past weekend, a reconnaissance of my fridge revealed one lemon, two limes, one orange, cranberry juice, some mint-infused sugar syrup and a bottle of Bodega Elena De Mendoza 2010 from Argentina ($8.75 at Tyson Fine Wines and Things in Golden Springs).
This is rocket science! Pay close attention.
1. Empty red wine into a glass pitcher.
2. Add juice — in my case, two bottles of cranberry juice plus the juice of the lemon, limes and orange (reserving some citrus peel and slices to add at the end).
3. Adjusted for sweetness with mint sugar syrup to taste.
4. Serve over ice in a wine glass.
It’s difficult to mess this up. Just about any combination of fruit and wine will work. White grape, peach and pineapple juices work well with white wine, but they work equally well with red.
If you are among the mixology-challenged, help is available. Tyson’s has a pre-mixed sangria packet for $10, requiring only the addition of wine.
Also at Tyson’s is a pre-mixed Spanish sangria for $7 from Lost Vineyards, requiring only opening the bottle and pouring the contents over ice.
In Winn Dixie, I found two pre-mixed sangrias from Spain, Mandria Sangria Traditional Fresh Citrus for $7.99 and Real Sangria (not my personal testimony to its authenticity but its real name) for $8.99.
The Wine Cellar on Quintard stocks Yago, $9.99 for a 1.5 liters, along with an array of inexpensive Spanish reds suitable for making sangria.
Email Pat Kettles at email@example.com