Summer is in full swing, so today, Chris is showing you how to make one of the most refreshing drinks you could ask for on a hot summer day: a good ol’ fashioned pitcher of Sangria. And yes, we do mean a large format recipe– perfect for any summer party– and not just a single serving!
Sangria, a wine drinker’s favorite cocktail, has a rich history that traces back to Spain and even beyond, back over 2,000 years. It supposedly originated as a way to make wine more palatable by adding fruits, spices, and sweeteners. The name “Sangria” is derived from the Spanish word for blood, referring to its vibrant red color– or possibly even from the Sanskrit word for “sugared wine.” Either seem accurate!
Over time, this crowd-pleasing cocktail evolved into a popular party drink that is enjoyed worldwide. Its versatility and ability to be customized with different types of fruit and spirits make it a favorite choice for various gatherings and celebrations.
Creating a delicious batch of Sangria requires a carefully selected combination of ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Red Wine: Choose a medium-bodied, dry red wine with fruity undertones, such as a Spanish Rioja or a Merlot. The wine will form the base of your red wine Sangria and contribute to its rich flavor profile. You don’t need to use an expensive bottle of wine for Sangria, but you want something with a full body that isn’t so cheap that it’ll give you a nasty hangover. And all the better if you can use Spanish wine for authenticity!
- Fresh Fruit: Opt for a variety of fresh fruits, such as oranges, lemons, limes, chopped apples, and berries. These fruits not only infuse the Sangria with their fresh flavors but also add a vibrant burst of color. You can use seasonal fruit or even frozen fruit in a pinch. Personally, I love fresh berries like blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries because they enhance the fruity flavor and soak up the alcohol– it’s fun to eat the boozy fruit at the bottom of the glass!
- Spirits: Typically, Sangria is a brandy-spiked drink, not just a wine cocktail. Brandy or even an orange liqueur, such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier, are commonly used to enhance the complexity of Sangria. This classic combination with a mix of wine adds a touch of sweetness and depth to the final concoction.
- Sweetener: If you prefer a sweeter Sangria, you can add an additional sweetener like sugar, honey, or more simple syrup to balance the acidity of the wine and fruit. The classic Sangria recipe we’re providing today isn’t a super sweet cocktail, FYI, but it does include basic simple syrup.
- Soda Water/Sparkling Water: To give this classic cocktail a delightful fizz, you can top it off with club soda just before serving. This adds a refreshing effervescence to the drink. Our recipe includes it, but you can use basic still water if you prefer.
How to Make Sangria for Parties
Making a big batch of Sangria for parties is an easy way to keep guests happy and make sure you don’t have to be making drinks all night. Just make a batch beforehand, and you’re good to go! Watch how Chris does it:
And if you’re interested in batched cocktails in general, go sign up for our Batched Cocktails Masterclass so you can up your party service skills all year long!
While traditional Sangria is a crowd-pleaser, there are endless possibilities for customizing this beloved drink. Here are a few variations to consider:
- White Wine Sangria: Swap the red wine for a crisp and fruity white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. This version is the perfect summer Sangria for those whose personal preferences tend toward a lighter and more citrus-forward flavor profile. Try adding fresh peaches to your white Sangria to play off the white wine flavors. Click the title link of this section for our white wine Sangria recipe with Aperol!
- Rosé Sangria: Embrace the trend of using delicious rosé wine by subbing it as the base for your Sangria. Rosé offers a delicate and floral taste that makes this an ideal spring Sangria recipe.
- Sparkling Sangria: Add an extra celebratory touch to your wine cocktail by using sparkling wine or champagne as the main ingredient or as a split base instead. The effervescence takes the drink to a whole new level and is very refreshing– you can still add a carbonated water on top of this.
- Tropical Sangria: Experiment with tropical fruits like pineapple, mango, and kiwi to give your favorite Sangria recipe an exotic twist. You can even add a splash of tropical fruit juice.
- Ginger Sangria: Replace the sparkling water element with ginger beer or ginger ale instead for a subtly spicy “bite.”
- Substitutions: For a fall or winter Sangria, switch out the brandy for a barrel-aged rum or bourbon, and use a rounder red wine instead of drier wine. Match those with apples, pears, and pomegranates for a seasonal element. You can even use maple syrup for your sweetener to really play up the autumn flavors.
- Infusions: Infuse your base spirit or syrup with herbs, spices, teas, or fruit to impart new tastes to your delicious cocktail. Learn more about totally transforming your cocktails with syrups by taking our new Crafting Cocktail Syrups Workshop!
An Easy Sangria Recipe for Your Next Party
Ready to grab this delicious Sangria recipe for your next brunch party? Go get your favorite wine, check out the recipe below, and invite over some friends. And of course, let us know in the comments if you prefer a basic Sangria recipe or something with more signature flavors like fresh ginger or pomegranate juice. Cheers!
- 1 bottle Dry Red Wine Drier the better, 750 ml
- 1/2 cup Orange Juice
- 1/4 cup Fresh Lemon Juice
- 1/2 cup Brandy or bourbon or aged rum
- 1/2 cup Simple Syrup
- 1/2 cup Seltzer Water or still
- 1 ea Medium Navel Orange Sliced into half or quarter wheels
- 1/2 cup Fresh Strawberries Hulled and sliced
- 1 ea Small Apple Pitted and sliced
- Slice the fresh fruit into thin rounds or small chunks, removing any seeds or cores.
- In a large pitcher, punch bowl, or carafe, add the sliced fruit and lightly muddle, just so they're open to soaking up the alcohol.
- Combine the red wine, brandy, and simple syrup; stir gently to ensure the prepared fruit is coated and the flavors are well distributed.
- Refrigerate the mixture for at least two hours (or up to 24 hours), allowing the fruit flavors to infuse the wine.
- Just before serving, add orange juice, fresh lemon juice, and seltzer water; give another good stir.
- Pour the Sangria into individual glasses filled with ice, ensuring each serving has a generous amount of fruit.
- Optional: Garnish with fresh mint leaves, citrus slices, or additional mixed berries.
- Serve and enjoy the vibrant and refreshing flavors of your homemade Sangria!