Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.
Consider the durian. This is a fruit that smells, depending on whom you talk to, like rotting onions, roadkill, old cat box (one of our food editors suggested that one), concentrated manure, piles of unwashed gym socks, you name it. It looks like a king-size hedgehog with no legs, weighs up to nine pounds or so, and is said to occasionally kill people by falling on them from high up in the trees where it grows. Some people love it - the fruit inside is quite sweet and tasty, they’ll tell you - but then some people love fermented shark (case in point: Iceland). Regardless, the durian isn’t something that one naturally associates with the phrase, “Hey, let’s make this thing into wine!”
Sangria sometimes gets a bad rap as being cheap, fruity hooch, good for getting you cheerfully buzzed and little else, but good sangria is delicious and one of the best summer drinks for a crowd. Its history is vague - grapes have been cultivated in Spain for a couple of thousand years, and citrus fruit for half that or so - but it seems pretty clear that no one in the U.S. knew about it until it was introduced at the 1964 World’s Fair. The traditional recipe includes red or white wine, citrus juice (usually orange), sparkling water and sliced fruit, plus a little brandy and a little sugar. But thanks to the inventiveness of mixologists and chefs these days, there are also endless variations - red sangrias, white sangrias, sake-infused sangrias, mango sangrias, watermelon sangrias and the list goes on.
Here, to spur the imagination and potentially resolve your next cookout beverage dilemma, is a recipe for Riesling Sangria with Lychees:
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