The bottle: Beso Del Sol sangria, $5-$20 (depending on size).
The back story: As cooling summer refreshers go, it’s hard to think of a hotter drink than sangria. The Spanish favorite — a wine product that’s low in alcohol and traditionally flavored with fruit and other sweeteners — has been trending of late, with sales of the category rising by 9.8% last year, according to one industry report. New sangria offerings and brands have also flooded the market. There’s now even a line of Yellow Tail sangrias.
But perhaps no label speaks to the sangria wave better than Beso Del Sol, which translates from the Spanish as “Kiss of the Sun.” According to brand founder and chief executive Bradd Levitan, Beso Del Sol was created in 2013 primarily as a sangria to be offered in Disney parks and resorts. (Disney won’t comment on specific brands, but does acknowledge that it features Beso Del Sol.) Soon after 2013, however, Levitan realized there was a larger market to tap and so he brought the brand to the broader restaurant, bar and retail market. Key to the success, says Levitan, has been the packaging: Beso Del Sol is a boxed wine with a special sealing methodology, which means that after it’s opened, it can stay fresh even without refrigeration for a longer period than a bottled wine — up to two months, in fact, according to Levitan. On top of that, Levitan emphasizes that Beso Del Sol is a Spanish-made product — not all popular sangrias are — that has a distinctly sweet-but-not-too-sweet appeal. “It’s balanced,” he says.
Whatever the case, Beso Del Sol is proving plenty popular. Annual sales more than doubled in 2015 to 66,000 cases. And this year, Levitan says the brand is on track to sell “a little north of 200,000 cases.”
What we think about it: To us, sangria is summer in a bottle. But we admit we’ve generally been hesitant to buy the versions already on the market — they taste a bit too much like alcoholic fruit punch to us. (Our solution: We make our own sangria, using any leftover wine we have in the house.) But Beso Del Sol does hit — pardon the pun — the sweet spot precisely because it’s not a sugar bomb. Both the red and white versions have an honest fruitiness and a nice wine-y pedigree. We’d gladly toast the end of summer with this brand.
How to enjoy it: The Beso Del Sol folks emphasize this is a no-fuss wine product that can be enjoyed chilled or even over ice — there’s no reason in this instance to feel ashamed about putting a few cubes in your vino. As for food pairings, Levitan says you should think along the classic lines: beef and heartier dishes go with the red, while fish, chicken and lighter fare match up with the white.