Sangria is a type of punch that combines wine with fruit, sugar and sometimes liquor. The exact origins of the drink are unknown, as people around the globe have been doctoring their wine for centuries. Versions of Sangria likely date back to at least the Middle Ages, when wine was safer to drink than water. It remained prevalent throughout Europe, especially in Spain and Portugal, eventually becoming the version we know today.
Despite its popularity across the Atlantic, Sangria was mostly unknown to American drinkers until the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. Served in the fair’s Spanish Pavilion, the easygoing cocktail proved popular among attendees, who liked its bold red color and fruity taste. Ever since, Sangria has been a fixture at backyard barbecues, holiday parties and other occasions that necessitate a pitcher of something festive.
The typical Sangria recipe calls for red wine, but you can also make the drink with white wine, rosé and even sparkling wine. And, lest you worry about quickly depleting your favorite bottle to make it, Sangrias work best with budget-friendly wine. Anything too complex will be lost in the mix, while anything too tannic may yield an overly-astringent flavor. So keep that big, bold, celebration wine squarely on the shelf for this exercise.
The best part about Sangria might be its versatility. A Spanish Rioja wine like tempranillo is always a great choice, given its dry and subtle nature. But you can try other Spanish (or not-Spanish) wines, too, like syrah or pinot noir. That experimentation doesn’t end with the wine—you can also have some fun with the fortifying spirit and the fruit.
This recipe leans traditional and calls for brandy alongside oranges, apples and lemons—a classic combination—but reach for whatever feels right in the moment. Want to add orange liqueur and a handful of berries? Sure. Prefer pears over apples? No problem. Are peaches currently in season? Great, slice one up and throw it in. Fresh fruits that complement rather than overpower your chosen wine can all shine in this fun cocktail. Because the possibilities are nearly endless, you’ll be able to mix up a delicious recipe, no matter the occasion.
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 orange, cut into wedges
- 1 apple, cored and diced
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges
- 1/2 cup brandy
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1 bottle dry red wine (like Rioja)
- Garnish: orange wheel
In a large pitcher, add the sugar, orange, apple and lemon and muddle for 30 seconds.
Add the brandy and orange juice and muddle again for 30 seconds.
Add the red wine and stir.
Serve in a red wine glass with ice, and garnish with an orange wheel.