No Sour Grapes

No Sour Grapes

“Eight hundred Frenchmen can’t be wrong,” Lesvia Castro exclaims with a hearty laugh, as she applies this saying to the many friends and relatives who enjoy her homemade sangria. Castro, 35, who enjoys cooking and baking for others, says that every time she serves up her special blend of triple sec, brandy, wine, “and a little secret kick,” she receives more encouragement to possibly start a business. The music industry is where this Hackensack, New Jersey, resident fashioned her career for the past 15 years. Today, she is a marketing coordinator for the urban market at Universal Records—all the while perfecting this spirit. “I put so much time into it,” she says. “I experiment all the time.”

It all began when Castro volunteered to make a beverage for her friend’s party. On the day of the gathering, she presented sangria chilled with a dazzling ice ring made from tropical fruits and island nectars. “It keeps it cold without watering it down,” Castro explains. “And it’s pretty to look at. For me, it also has to be pleasing to the eye.” Since then, Castro has been making sangria for various celebrations and gatherings. “The sangria was such a hit that folks started asking for more.” Castro, who sets up right in her home kitchen, estimates the costs at approximately $75 for every four gallons. But price is the least of her concerns when she’s creating. Her greatest sense of accomplishment comes from the compliments she receives from those who enjoy her treats. “I get so excited that I can please people’s palates that way.”

“You have to enjoy a process like this,” Castro stresses. “Then you do it well. I enjoy preparing. I enjoy entertaining.”

Castro is always experimenting. Although there is a general recipe for making sangria, what makes it special is adding personal accents and variations. You can find several recipes by doing a search labeled “how to make sangria.” A Website to consider is For a nonalcoholic batch, visit