Every year, my family has a party for Christmas Eve. My mom always makes her famous sangria. We love it but this year I said maybe we need to switch it up. Honestly, I wasn’t trying to be a Grinch, but as wonderful as her sangria is, she makes it for EVERY party all year long. Sometimes people even ask her to bring it for their parties. So we get a little sangria-ed out. Plus, I’m not a huge fan of red wine. So I dared to be different and decided to make a white sangria. I thought of some winter fruit to add and decided to build the flavors around that. Pear is such a perfect flavor for this time of year so I decided that would be my spirit-spirit (haha, get it?).
Unfortunately for me, when I got to the liquor store to buy Arbor Mist Pear, they were all sold out of it. The salesperson at the liquor store directed me to a wine called The Legend of Big Bill which was a blend of Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, and Grenache Blanc and had aromas of pear, peach and guava. He also mentioned that if I was looking for a great pear flavor I might like to try a vanilla pear cognac called Xante. (I made this recipe with the Pear Arbor Mist and an unflavored Cognac and it was just as good, especially when the vanilla had time to infuse in the simple syrup for a long period of time.)
I stood there for a bit trying to decide whether or not to get the cognac. I mean, the thought of vanilla cognac just sounds delicious, right? Right! So I decided why not get it. It’s the holidays after all and we should totally live it up and enjoy the holiday spirit.
At home, I worried aloud to my husband about the vanilla flavor and how strong it was. Would it overpower the sangria? I figured I’d give it a shot, literally.
I tasted both the wine and the cognac. The cognac was incredibly delightful. It was just the right strength and I felt that the vanilla flavor deserved to be acknowledged a little bit more. I concocted a simple syrup with vanilla and cinnamon to add to the sangria in order to to bring out the vanilla flavor of the cognac. Then, I used pear nectar to bring out the pear flavors in the wine. When making drinks that contain alcohol, I like to make ice that mimics the flavors in the drink, instead of making ice with water so the drink doesn’t water down and lose flavor. This sangria had a nice crisp taste that was very smooth and refreshing.
All of the flavors truly paired well together, or pear-ed well, should I say? While Mom’s sangria will always be the star of other parties, I think this Vanilla Pear Apple Sangria will be our new Christmas Eve star for sure!
Vanilla Pear Apple Sangria
Makes about 1/2 Gallon
1 750 ml bottle of white wine (preferably something with a hint of pear)
1/2 cup of pear nectar
1 1/2 cups of sparkling apple cider
1/4 cup of cognac
1/2 cup simple syrup
Mix all of the ingredients together. Give it a stir and serve
Apple Cider Ice
About 1 cup Apple Cider
Dice apple & pear and place a little of each into each segment of an ice cube tray. Pour Apple Cider in the ice cube tray over the apple and pear.
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 cinnamon sticks
Mix sugar and water.
Split the vanilla bean down the middle, and scrape the seeds. Add the vanilla bean and the seeds, along with 1 cinnamon stick to the pot.
Let boil for 5 minutes
Infuse the vanilla and cinnamon in the simple syrup up to an hour for a stronger vanilla and cinnamon flavor
** If the simple syrup is made the day before the flavors blend together and has a more powerful taste.