CauldronIs any Halloween celebration complete without a smoking cauldron of witches’ brew?  I think not.  A Spooky Sangria is just the ticket.  Sangria is named after the Spanish and Portuguese word for “bloodletting” because of its typical dark-red color (totally appropriate for Halloween!).  It usually consists of wine, chopped fruit, a sweetener, and a small amount of brandy.  For my autumn influenced version, I macerate some diced Granny Smith apples in 1 cup of spiced rum, 1/2 cup of triple sec, and a teaspoon of lemon juice (a few hours will do the trick).  Add 1 cup of orange juice, and two to three bottles of a fruity red wine (for this time of year I like a concentrated fruit forward spicy red such as zinfandel or shiraz, but most affordable reds will work).  Inexpensive entry level wines are completely appropriate as the wine is part of an ensemble and not the star of the show.  Refrigerate for a few hours and adjust to taste.  Don’t be shy with improvisation.  Add some lemon lime soda if you prefer a lighter, sweeter and slightly effervescent brew.  You can also add different fruits (I always try to use seasonal fruits when I make sangria).  If you can score some dry ice (chips are more manageable than blocks) a scoop in the cauldron will produce an eerie smoking bubbly effect (NOTE: dry ice is non toxic but needs to be handled with care to avoid burns. Consult your local purveyor for instructions on handling and use in beverages!)