Jim Kurtz and Tina Ellis of Ashland make sangria from fresh-picked berries and locally made red wine that have been chilling together for at least a day.
Unlike old college recipes made with rotgut wine and anything found in the fridge for a quick buzz, this couple adds triple sec liqueur, then weakens the alcohol potency with ginger ale and ice.
"It's more diluted than straight wine or beer," he says. "And it instantly quenches and conjures up an exotic locale."
Adults experiencing the heat of the Rogue Valley summer are finding relief in time-tested sangria.
Sangria, it seems, begins its mental cooling effect the second ice cubes tink against the glass.
Then there is the taste of fresh fruit cold-soaked in a carbonated liquid, a combination that offers an instant sense of air conditioning.
Light, tannic red and crisp white wines can add an alcohol layer or the drink can hold its own without it.
Local restaurant staffs are diving into the need for a brisk beverage by using new ingredients to update sangria's fruity, tart tradition.
At Sesame Asian Kitchen, at 21 Winburn Way in Ashland, an icy $6.50 pint glass of sangria made with pinot gris, GranGala orange liqueur and passion fruit puree is being slurped creekside by adults seeking to turn down their internal furnace.
Nearby, Enoteca by Edenvale Wine Bar and Bistro, 17 N. Main St., is making the Spanish-inspired drink with wine grapes grown in Medford.
At the Ashland bar, customers are benefiting from a glut of wine by leaving with a $35 case of Edenvale chardonnay or Red Rabbit red. With it, some plan to make their own sangria antidote to scorching days.
In Talent, Chef Douglas Todd of Wine Country Catering is adding pricey Cointreau to his sangria that keeps catering clients guessing his secret ingredients.
Because of the taste, he bases his sangria on a 2009 Edenvale viognier that costs $18 a bottle instead of a less expensive vintage (the 2010 viognier is $10) or a cut-rate chardonnay.
To him, the viognier grape has the right balance.
"It isn't an oakey chardonnay or a dry sauvignon blanc," says Todd, who graduated from the Tante Marie culinary school in San Francisco and studied enology at U.C. Berkeley.
He adds blueberries because they are healthy, enhance the juicy taste and look pretty bouncing around inside a glass container.
Strawberries and all of the other fruits — except Valencia orange slices — are from local producers.
He pairs his sangria with grilled pork tenderloin topped with guava glaze and orange habanero sauce.