Nothing says summertime like a delicious, refreshing glass of sangria. This endlessly customizable wine-based beverage is essential for any garden bash, backyard barbecue, a must-have for picnics in the park. The beauty of sangria is that it's easy to make and offers a fantastic option if you're looking to pre-batch drinks prior to kick off your summery get-together, especially if you're on a budget. And of course, you can build your sangria to perfectly suit whatever is on the menu!
Hold up a second – what is sangria anyway? Think of this delightful drink as a sort of punch. Fruits, sugar, spirits, and soda can all make their way into a pitcher of sangria. There's no set recipe. In fact, if you were to go on a drinking tour of Spain, you'd likely find that no two sangria are the same. It's phenomenally popular in both Spain and Portugal who have (thankfully) exported it to the rest of the wine drinking world. Take it from us, there are few better ways to keep cool during the sultry Spanish summer!
The History of Sangria
The word sangria comes from the Spanish word sangre which means “blood,” a likely reference to the drink's deep red hue. Although the origins are murky at best, the general consensus is that sangria originated in the Iberian Peninsula. That said, its roots are even older, possibly stretching back to Antiquity. It's well-documented that the ancient Greeks and Romans would mix ingredients like sugar, fruits, and spices into their wine, not unlike sangria's wintry cousin mulled wine. This tradition carried down through the ages as sangria became a fixture in cafes and eateries throughout the Iberian Peninsula.
How To Make Sangria
While Spanish wines are a no-brainer to use as a sangria base, you can opt for any inexpensive fruit-forward wine, regardless of the color or country of origin. Adding other ingredients to your sangria like fruit, sugar, soda, or spirits will mask the flavors of the wine, so save your more expensive bottles for other occasions.
To get the most out of your sangria, it's best to plan ahead. Mix it up and let the ingredients sit together overnight so they have a chance to infuse the wine. If you're adding sparkling water, sparkling wine, or soda to your sangria, hold off on adding it until you're ready to serve it so the bubbles to fizzle out!
Your most basic versions of sangria are made up of:
- Inexpensive, fruity wine (of any color). You'll need at least one bottle, possibly more depending on the size of your guest list.
- Sugar to taste
- Fresh chopped fruit such as oranges, apples, nectarines, lemons, limes...you get the idea!
- A mixer – this can include lemonade, a lemon-lime or orange soda, fruit juice, or soda water.
From here, you can continue to build it up. Want an extra kick to your sangria? Add a few shots of your spirit of choice to the mix. Brandy, vodka, schnapps, and gin are favored by many. We love adding a little Calvados or peach liqueur to white sangria and a good dose of brandy makes red sangria really sing. Feel free to get creative and add in fresh herbs (like mint or thyme), spices (a little cinnamon, anyone?) or edible flowers to take your sangria to the next level.
So now you know the basics, here's how to make the perfect batch of sangria.
- In a large container, pour in wine, still fruit juices, fresh fruit, sugar, and any other flavoring ingredients such as spirits, herbs, or spices.
- Cover and chill overnight.
- When ready to serve, pour into glasses filled with ice. If using a carbonated mixer, top up glasses filled with the sangria mix immediately prior to serving. Garnish and enjoy.
Our Favorite Sangria Food Pairings
As we've hinted at, sangria is a perfect pairing for a wide range of dishes. Naturally, other ingredients like fruits, spirits, soda, and so on will affect the flavor of your sangria, but in general, there are a few safe bets when deciding what to eat. Here are some of our top picks.
White sangria – most folks like to add an array of citrus fruits to their white sangria. This makes it a perfect choice for seafood and shellfish. Spicy grilled prawns, fried calamari, ceviche, paella, and crab cakes all make delicious choices when sipping on white sangria.
Rosé sangria – thinking pink? A picnic spread with cheeses and cured meats is an absolute delight with rosé sangria. If you're posted behind the grill, many vegetables cooked over an open flame will complement a glass of rosé sangria to a T. Another can't miss pairing is pork. Whether you're barbecuing pork ribs, crafting the ultimate bacon cheeseburger, or tucking into a pork chop, a chilled glass of rosé sangria will satisfy with every sip.
Red sangria – the ultra-classic and likely oldest version of sangria is spectacular with all sorts of meats. From steaks to tacos, curries to grilled chicken, red sangria works with it all. Take a tip from Spain and enjoy red sangria with chorizo – you won't be disappointed!
Sangria is such a crowdpleaser when it comes to entertaining in summer. It's a delicious, easy way to keep your guests happy while offering them a tailor-made beverage to go with what's on the menu. With the countless ways you can personalize your sangria, it's a terrific way to express your creativity in the kitchen without having to break a sweat. Of course, if you do, you can always chill out with the fruits of your labor – an ice cold glass of sangria.
Have a great sangria recipe? Share it in the comments below!