There is a lot of fruit in season at the moment, but you will not find it in my sangria. Peak-season produce can be a little pricey, but mostly it just feels disrespectful to obscure the flavour of a perfectly ripe, sun-kissed and (possibly) freshly picked blackberry or peach with a “bold” red wine. That is a job for the frozen stuff.
While I’m sure none of you are guilty of fruit abandonment, some people have a tendency to leave wine-soaked sangria fruit behind in the pitcher, and I refuse to do that to a five-dollar pint of marionberries or beautiful white nectarines. Frozen fruit is cheap, tastes perfectly fine, and does not elicit guilty feelings when drowned in booze.
But beyond value, frozen fruit is just more practical. There’s no washing, no peeling, no chopping. You just dump and go. Freezing and thawing softens the fruit — water expands when frozen, rupturing the fruit’s cellular walls — making maceration and flavour-melding that much easier. Plus, frozen fruit is very cold, which helps make your sangria very cold, which is (obviously) what you want in a fresh beverage.
There are, of course, a few exceptions to my “frozen only” sangria rule, and they are apples and oranges. I’ve never seen either in the frozen fruit aisle, but both taste pretty good no matter what time of year it is. Plus, the oils in citrus fruit bring essential depth to the beverage. Additionally, if you overdid it at the u-pick farm, or happen to live near a common blackberry bush (which are insanely prolific), sangria is a good choice for a bunch of excess berries that are about to go bad. Berries that are too soft for eating out of hand are perfect for sangria, and we do hate to waste.