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Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012

Sangria by Lovino, by Way of Bay View

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Erica and Jamie Zdroik were well aware of the stigma surrounding bottled sangria— that most of it isn't very good—when they launched their own line this June. Much of the sangria on the shelves is thin to the point of being bodiless, and almost candy-sweet. “We know that sangria has a bad reputation,” Erica says. “It has the reputation of being the leftover wine. We wanted to change that reputation.”

So for their Sangria by Lovino, the Bay View couple set out to make a product much closer to the kind of fresh, hearty sangria that's been a staple of their family gatherings. “A lot of retail sangrias dilute the product so their flavors aren't as potent, but ours is much more concentrated,” Erica says. “The alcohol content in the typical retail sangria is between 6%-10%, but for ours, it's 12.5%. We're not adding extra alcohol; we're just not diluting it. We wanted something bold and strong, something that will taste good even as the ice melts.”

Made in Algoma, Wis., from a Cabernet franc base wine, Sangria by Lovino is ready to serve over ice. Erica recommends adding orange slices to sweeten the drink to taste. But it was important the base wine itself not be too sweet, she said.

“That was the complaint we always heard the most from people about bottle sangria: It's too sweet,” she says. “So we tried to come up with a recipe that was really unique without being too sweet. The winery adds natural flavors, as well as a touch of Wisconsin blueberry wine, as well as a tiny pinch of coconut flavoring that really balances the sangria, smoothing it out so it's not too acidic. Because it's a higher-quality product, we charge a little bit more than other bottled sangrias—about $12 a bottle, when most are between $6 and $10 a bottle—but it was really important to us that ours had a really deep, satisfying wine flavor.”