Here in England, the kids get a spring break that ranges anywhere from a couple of weeks to insanely long. My kids’ school break falls on the later end of that range, so last month, when the last bell rang, we packed up and headed for the hills. The hills of Toledo, Spain, that is.
Last month’s trip was my first time to Spain, and I’m pretty obsessed with getting back there as soon as possible. Ever since we’ve come home, I like to transport myself back there by fixing a little platter of cured meats, snack on slivers of Manchego, and sip a little bit of tinto de verano on my porch.
We flew into Madrid on a late afternoon flight and spent the night at a nice hotel near the airport. The hubby is really good at the hotel points game, and the kids love basically any hotel with an indoor swimming pool. Spending the night near the airport, while not maximizing our sightseeing time, gave us all a break and let us ease into our trip between Toledo and Madrid.
Toledo, just a 30-minute train ride from Madrid, is absolutely stunning. Every corner of this ancient city is postcard worthy, and I loved its Old World architecture and sleepy feel.
There’s a little tourist train that circles Toledo from the main square in town, Plaza Zocodover, and that’s what we did one afternoon, just as the sun was going down. An audio tour is included with the ticket price, which enthralled our kids. We never expected them to enjoy audio tours at this age. Actually, maybe a lot of it has to do with shiny red earbuds and very little to do with cultural history.
The tourist train takes you to the top of this stunning mountain range where you can see the entire city of Toledo, bordered by a river, down below. It’s important, but not absolutely necessary, to bring matching red sunglasses for maximum silly photo taking opportunities.
Back in Madrid, we filled our our time (and glasses) with tinto de verano, a red wine cocktail similar to sangria. Using tempranillo or rioja, tinto de verano doesn’t require the steeping time that a good sangria needs for the flavors to develop. Also, unlike sangria, you don’t need to justify making a full pitcher in order to enjoy it. Instead, you can keep the ingredients — sweet vermouth, red wine, grapefruit soda and lemons — on hand to make just a glass or two.
We first discovered tinto de verano while sitting outside at Bodegas Rosell, a neighborhood tapas joint near our hotel. We asked for sangria at first, but our Spanish-speaking server clicked her tongue and shook her head. We weren’t sure exactly what she said, but it was something along the lines of “You need to have a tinto de verano. It’s way better.”
The tart, light flavors of the tinto de verano proved her right. Our trip to Spain hadn’t been the easiest — we’d all gotten sick with different illnesses, making adventuring difficult. The tinto de verano lifted the hubby and my spirits and emboldened us to soldier on, viruses and all.
Now that we’re back home, tinto de verano has firmly taken a place in our cocktail rotation. It’s a delightful, light spring cocktail, and very easy to make. How easy? Why, let me show you in this video I made:
My next video! Today I’m showing you my favorite cocktail from our recent visit to Spain — tinto de verano. It’s basically an easy version of sangria. I drink it with my eyes half-closed while imagining flamenco guitar strumming softly in the background…
Posted by Grits & Chopsticks on Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Ahh, tinto de verano. Ahh, Spain. Te amo…
- ½ bottle Spanish red wine (Tempranillo or Rioja)
- 1 can of grapefruit soda (I used grapefruit flavored Pelligrino)
- 1 shot (1.5 ounces) sweet vermouth
- Lemon zest and lemon juice, for garnish
- Fill two glasses half full with ice.
- Divide the shot of vermouth between the two glasses (note: you could just splash a little vermouth at the bottom of each glass).
- Fill each glass halfway with red wine.
- Top with grapefruit soda.
- Squeeze a lemon wedge into each glass and top with zest.