Monday, September 1, 2008

Sangria Poltergeist

I was driving to my friend Jane Addams' house for happy hour. I had made a delicious pitcher of sangria, and since I did not want to get thrown in the clink for driving with an open container in the car, I put the pitcher in the back of the van. I braced it against the side of the car and the back seat, and I further secured it by wedging a grocery bag of fruit soaked in simple syrup against the bottom of the pitcher.

Somewhere along the way, I heard an ominous thud from the back of the van. "Oh, no," I thought, "The sangria!" But I didn't smell wine, so I kept driving. I am nothing if not optimistic. Otherwise known as "stupid."

About five miles later, I heard a sploosh, like the sound of a water balloon hitting the car window. Instantly I smelled the sweet smell of sweet sangria permeating the car. I pulled over as quickly as I could--but it was too late. Most of the two-gallon pitcher had spilled, soaking though the carpet and into the padding in the back of the van.

I couldn't show up empty-handed, and I still had the zip-lock bag of soaking fruit--so I stopped at a liquor store and bought the supplies I'd need to re-create the sangria base. At Jane Addams' house, I mixed up a batch, and even though it didn't have time to chill properly, it was still delicious. Here's the recipe:

Mix and chill 8 hours or overnight:
Two bottles of red wine (merlot, zinfandel, etc.)
1 cup orange juice
1 cup of brandy
1 quart of Fresca or other lemon-lime soda

Make simple syrup:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

Bring to boil; simmer until sugar is dissolved. Cool.

Cut up fruit: apples, peaches, lemons, limes, oranges.
Soak fruit overnight in simple syrup.

Add fruit to wine according to taste. Chill. Drink. Responsibly, of course.

The only problem was that the car alarm started going off for no apparent reason. Oh, and the interior lights would go on and stay on; the door ajar light remained lit; the door locks clicked randomly; and the radio started playing Korean alt hip-hop at will. Apparently, sangria does not mix well with the electrical system of a Dodge Caravan, and weird poltergeisty things kept happening for the next week-and-a-half.

Even after we Resolved and Febrezed the carpet, the car still smelled like sangria. We are an open container arrest just waiting to happen. "No, officer, I swear I haven't been drinking! The car smells like sangria because I spilled it in the back TWO WEEKS AGO!"

Finally I took it to my normally reliable mechanic, who insisted that the sangria had nothing to do with the coincidental electrical shenanigans. He sprayed some sort of magic spray on each door lock mechanism, chanted a spell, and said, there you go!

But what about the Korean hip-hop? I asked. Just a coincidence, he said. As I drove away from the mechanic's shop, the door ajar light went on, and the locks clicked in time with the radio. I heard a deep, ghosty laugh--bwah-ha-ha--coming from the rear gate.

I decided that I would change mechanics as soon as I got back from my trip to Door County.

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