During the month of August, what better than to investigate the best sangrias in Kelowna?! It is summer, it is hot; nothing can beat sipping a refreshing sangria, on a patio, in the Okanagan!
Although there are many establishments making excellent sangrias in Kelowna, I chose these three local spots. For this challenge, we reviewed bin 4, Hotel Eldorado, and The Train Station Pub.
But before we begin, what makes a great sangria?
Sangria is an alcoholic beverage that originated from Spain. Portugal and possibly even the Caribbean, have had their early versions too. Traditional sangria is made with red wine (classically Tempranillo and Rioja), juices and fruit. Some versions include brandy, cognac, various pops and soda water. There are many different renditions concocted. For me, a proper sangria comes down to these basic components:
–Wine – although even a cheap wine can work; a reasonable good quality wine is key. I prefer a red sangria but white, is also decent if made right.
–Fruit – there needs to be fruit in this drink. Sangria that isn’t served with fruit, is a no go for me. More sophisticated sangria is made by marinating the fruit beforehand, in the wine or brandy, then adding the juice or soda when ordered. I also prefer fruit that is in season and locally harvested. Anything from all berries, apples, pears, pineapple and grapes, to lemons and oranges, can be used.
-Additives – brandy, soda water, Ginger ale, 7-Up and Sprite, can add significant depth to the wine forward sangria. Again, quality of ingredients is important and you don’t want an overly sweet drink. Little goes a long way.
-Chilled – I don’t like a sangria that tastes like lukewarm red wine on ice! I want it to be cold and refreshing. This is characteristically a summer beverage.
The flavor we tried, wouldn’t be my first choice in sangria – Apple & Mint. However, I was pleasantly surprised. It was a very classic and simple sangria, made with white wine, brandy, apple, lemon juice, and soda. It tasted splendidly fresh and authentically home-made. The only thing missing for me, was not enough fruit included. The few apple slices were good, but I needed more.
I loved that the El put a different spin on their sangria. Instead of the classic version that comes served on ice, they had a unique, slushy version, made up of the El’s red sangria mix, citrus slush, and seasonal, Okanagan fruit. I loved that it was super cold and invigorating – perfect for a hot day. I also loved the touch of local berries on top. The one critique: with a slushy drink, it can melt fast and water down.
Train Station Pub:
Instead of using standard red wine, Train Station used local, white wine. Raspberry vodka, lemon and grapefruit juice, a splash of soda and seasonal fruit, made up their drink. I found the overall taste very peachy and I liked the touch of seasonal berries again. This was an excellent sangria, however, I found it to be a tad overly sweet.
So which sangria was my favorite?
Although all the sangrias were delicious, I loved that Eldorado’s was a slushy version. It was a novel, outside the box approach and the use of local, Okanagan berries, made it that much better.
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