February ushers in the season for love. It begins on February 14 and continues through spring; ending when overtaken by wedding season in June. To really engage in and appreciate the spirit of this season, it is important to become familiar with some of its hallmarks. A few of the distinctive features include sending flowers, thoughtful dinners, surprise gift-giving; some of the characteristic fragrances involved include, floral bouquets, the scent emitted from a cozy fire, the fresh smells of spring; and flavors essential to this season include chocolate and undoubtedly sangria.
Sangria has its roots tied to the Latin energy of romance. Its history stems from Italy, Portugal and most obviously Spain. It was the beverage of choice in bygone years when water was not safe for drinking and continues to be the most popular drink from Spain.
From its introduction into the American culture at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, the romantic motif of sangria has found its way into our picnic baskets, our tropical get-a-ways even into our floral arrangements (1-800-Flowers has a popular bouquet called the Sangria bouquet) and our modern poetry. Poet Frank Ocean refers to sangria as his potion of choice in his American Wedding Lyrics:
I took a walk with the palm trees as the daylight fell
Sangria in a canteen
Talking to myself
This tattoo on my left hand
Is turning purple-ish blue
Daydreams of the romance
Daydreams of you
My pretty woman in a ballgown
I'm Richard Gere in a tux
Getting married in a courthouse
Writing vows in a rush [....]
If love could be put into liquid form, I think it would resemble sangria with its deep red color and its fruity, refreshing distinctive taste. Although it has an air of the feminine about it, a recent AskMen.com article noted that “sangria is a [beverage] that every man should have in his drinks arsenal. It’s popular with women ... sophisticated without being even remotely pretentious...”
Finding good sangria, however, is not an effortless endeavor. It is not so readily available on the shelves of our local grocer. It may well be that it is difficult to insure that the fresh, crisp flavor will be preserved over time in our supermarkets. Perhaps it is for this reason that many suggest that sangria be made at home. As a devout sangria lover, I have attempted to make sangria many times myself -- with some efforts more successful than others. That said, I realize that sometimes you just want to have and enjoy sangria without the labor involved. Well, I have found a delicious sangria made here in Chicago that has all the distinctive and satisfying features of ‘the season of love’ in a bottle: Juicy Lucy Sangria.
Juicy Lucy Sangria is made by Luz Cavazos and her husband from a recipe handed down from her ancestors. The two started their beverage company because so many of their family and friends loved Luz’s version of the traditional sangria. Whenever they were invited to family gatherings, Luz was always assigned to bring her sangria. It was, according to their loved ones, the best sangria they had ever tasted. Soon after, these family and friends asked that she make bottles for them to give as gifts. She realized that she had something, and now the husband and wife team are off to the races! These days, they are having trouble keeping up with demand!
Luz’s sangria is a combination of a traditional family recipe in conjunction with her own unique flavor combinations. She started with the traditional flavor and has since expanded. According to Luz, “we now offer four flavors: traditional sangria Ruby Red, Sweet Apple, Pear & Red Mango. We also offer three different seasonal flavors which are Pomegranate, Lemonade and White Mango”. It’s not clear what makes Juicy Lucy so delicious and unique. Luz says of her sangria, “In our products, we use only natural juices -- orange juice, lemon juice, pear juice, apple juice and mango. The wine -- which we make ourselves -- comes from high quality grapes from different regions in Argentina, Chili, & New Zealand; we also add rum, brandy, and vodka.”
Juicy Lucy Sangria will soon be on its way to independent grocers in the Chicago area. For information and to contact Luz for an opportunity to sample this amazing sensation, she may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.