Last week I posted a menu for a special dinner party. We started our Mediterranean evening off with a pretty wine cocktail hailing from Portugal. Choose a good quality wine, preferably from that country and preferably red (called Tinto in Portuguese). Pair it up with a dry Porto. Throw in a few swigs of liqueur, cool it off with ice, and top up with sparkling water. Choose some nice crystal, decorate your glass with a slice of lime, and you’re good to go.
Portugal has a large variety of native grapes, producing a bunch of different wines with distinctive personality. Ask for advice at the wine store if you have no idea what you might like.
Porto is the most famous of Portugal’s wines. Its vines defy gravity, growing in poor, rocky soil found on the steep slopes along the river Douro. The historic, narrow, stone-walled vine terraces are a UNESCO World Heritage site.
If the label reads Porto, you can be assured of buying a wine from Portugal. Port, however, can come from anywhere in the world. I bought a tawny porto for our evening, but ruby is also nice. There is even a white port, but it’s not so great for this particular drink.
Portuguese sangria is an easy cocktail to mix. You’re in control when you choose how much or how little ice and bubbly water you put in your glass.
Chef Mimi inspired this cocktail, with her claret cup. Here’s how we made it.
• 1 bottle (26 ounces/750 ml) red wine, preferably a fruity one from Portugal
• 2 ounces orange liqueur
• 2 ounces blackberry liqueur (creme de cassis)
• 2-4 ounces of your best port, depending how sweet you like your cocktails
• 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
• 1 bottle (18 ounces/500 ml) sparkling water
• 2 sliced limes to garnish
1. In a pitcher, mix everything but the water. Start with 2 ounces port. Stir and taste. Add more port if you like it sweeter.
2. Pour 3 ounces of the mix into a fancy glass that holds 2/3 cup nicely and top with 2 ounces bubbly water.
3. Serve with a slice of lime.
I usually post recipes the kids might like, but this one is strictly for grown-ups. Alcohol interferes with the growth of a child so we woudn’t want that. But what parent doesn’t deserve a treat from time to time, after the kids have gone to bed? Cheers!
It’s good, yes, but is it healthy?
Well… we can make a case for alcohol’s use, in moderation, if you can afford the cost.
Alcohol per se is never an easy thing for your body to handle. It’s a drug after all, which acts on our nervous system. A little can relax you and make you feel more at ease. Too much can destroy all your inhibitions so that crazy behavior seems like fun. Too much alcohol can get you into trouble – think what can happen if you drink and drive, for example.
Alcohol provides a goodly chunk of calories and no nutrients. People who drink too much lose judgment regarding what and how much they eat. It’s hard to eat responsibly when you drink too much. People who stop drinking alcohol often find they lose a lot of excess weight quickly. It stays off if you can keep from drinking.
But, on the plus side, many alcoholic beverages are distilled from plants. Red wines, for example, including porto used in our drink here, contain antioxidants from grapes that fight inflammation and the chronic diseases that ensue. The redder, the better. Liqueurs made from oranges and blackberries contain distilled goodness from these fruits in the form of phytonutrients. Our little cocktail offered here in moderation can do you some good, over and above the pleasure of a great taste.
So cheers! Next week I’ll tell you how to make a fabulous crostini to go along with this aperatif. Hope you can wait that long 🙂 .
Vinny cooks up an internet dinner – For the full menu and other recipe links to this delicious meal, click here!