Written and photographed by Christine Miksis
We’re smack dab in the middle of summer. It’s sweltering hot. The back of your thighs are stuck to the leather sofa again (It doesn’t get sexier than that, no?) You just got home from a long day of work and want to take the edge off and keep cool at the same time.
I propose a very refreshing, relaxing Italian solution to all of your problems: red wine granita.
As luscious as creamy sorbet is, I like its icier cousin granita just the same. In fact, I might like her a little bit better and I’ll tell you why. For starters, to make granita at home there is no need for any fancy-schmancy kitchen equipment whatsoever. Best of all, it only involves about five minutes of manual labor, and that is simply to make the simple syrup.
If you’re confused about the difference between sorbet and granita, here’s the deal. Both are the same in terms of ingredients like water, sugar, blended fruits or fruit juice (in this case, red wine). The difference between the two is the texture, as a result of different freezing techniques.
Continuously churning the ingredients in an ice cream maker as the mixture freezes makes a creamy sorbet, while slightly agitating the mixture manually with a fork every few hours or completely leaving it alone all together makes a coarser and flakier granita.
To make the granita more grown-up, the weapon of choice here is red wine. The following recipe tastes like just that, red wine, so don’t expect it to be too sweet. My personal preference is to err on the wine side and for this reason I kept the sugar to a minimum. According to your tastes, feel free to add more or less simple syrup. We use a one-to-one ratio for the syrup.
Also note that the red wine will still carry its full alcoholic punch after freezing, and continued consumption of red wine granitas may cause you to forget to pack sunscreen for your trip to Biarritz, so you end up with a sunburn as rouge as the icy wine. Le sigh.
Red Wine Granita
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 6 hours 30 minutes
Makes 4 servings
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 1/4 cups red wine
- 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Juice of 1 orange
- Mint sprigs and/or lemon twists for garnish
Make simple syrup by combining water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
Mix the simple syrup, wine and juices. Pour into a 9-inch metal or glass baking pan. Freeze for 4-6 hours or until completely frozen. For a water ice-like texture, scrape the mixture gently with a fork every two hours while freezing. For a flakier consistency, leave it be.
Scoop into a glass and top with a mint sprig and/or a lemon twist.
Come to think of it, I wouldn’t mind a margarita version…