Sangria is the perfect drink for almost any outdoor get-together, whether you’re cooking Spanish food or not. Our mix makes it simple to prepare for a crowd, but you can also make it from scratch with just a little patience. Also, the refreshing blend of wine, liquor and fresh fruit can be easily varied to include your favorite flavors and ingredients.
With spring and summer entertaining in mind, we turned to Tanya Booth, co-owner of The Spanish Table in Berkeley and Mill Valley. Her store specializes in the cuisine of Spain, where she lived and cooked for a year-and-a-half, and she still loves serving sangria to friends. Read her tips for making it at home, and scroll down for our favorite recipes.
Give it time. Sangria begins with two ingredients: wine and fruit. The fruit is macerated in the wine (Tanya recommends overnight) to allow the flavors to meld together. The next day, she adds good Spanish brandy to the mix, and you can also add a little simple syrup for sweetness, if you like. The following day, when you’re ready serve, top it off with sparkling or plain water, or even a little sparkling lemonade.
Consider the season. “Sangria is great in warm weather — very festive,” says Tanya. But it can also be made year-round. In the winter she uses Meyer lemon, blood oranges and diced apples (“you have something firm to snack on,” she says). In the summer, she goes to stone fruits such as peaches, nectarines and pitted cherries, often in the style of a white sangria.
Mix it up. Besides fruits, you can also change the liquors and wines you use to experiment with different flavors. “Brandy adds a bit of a kick, but sometimes I’ve used Cointreau or orange liquor as well, which is great with stone fruits,” says Tanya. As for wine, look for light and fruity bottles, such as a Garnacha or young Tempranillo, when making red sangrias. For white, something simple and dry fits the bill — think Verdejo or Godello. If you like, add some sparkle with a Cava.
Serve in style. “Sangria is typically served in a spouted sangria pitcher,” says Tanya. “In Spain, they’ll use a wooden spoon to divvy up the fruit.” (Tip: we also love these self-serve glass beverage dispensers!)
Spring White Sangria
1 bottle (750 ml.) fruit white wine such as Chenin Blanc or Gewurztraminer
1 1/4 cups passion fruit juice
1/4 cup (2 fl. oz.) fresh lime juice
1 cup each white and muscat grapes, seeded and halved
1 Asian or Bartlett pear, cored and thinly sliced
1 can (20 oz.) litchis, with syrup
2 Tbs. each chopped fresh mint and dill
In a pitcher, combine wine, passion fruit and lime juices, grapes, pear, litchis and syrup, mint, and dill. Stir well. Refrigerate until chilled and flavors have blended, about 2 hours. Pour sangria into individual Collins or old-fashioned glasses filled with ice for serving. Serves 6-8.
Summer Rosé Sangria
1 bottle (24 fl. oz./750 ml.) Provencal rosé wine
1 1/4 cups (10 fl. oz./310 ml.) white cranberry juice
1 pt. (8 oz./250 g.) raspberries
1 pt. (8 oz./250 g.) blackberries, or 2 cups (12 oz./375 g.) pitted cherries
1 nectarine, pitted and thinly sliced
1 white or yellow peach, pitted and thinly sliced
In a pitcher, combine the rosé, cranberry juice, raspberries, blackberries, nectarine and peach. Stir well. Refrigerate until the sangria is chilled and the flavors have blended, about 2 hours.
When ready to serve, fill 6-8 glasses with ice. Divide the sangria among the glasses and serve. Serves 6-8.
Winter Red Sangria
2 bottles (750 ml. each) fruity red wine, such as Pinot Noir
3 Tbs. honey
1 cup halved red seedless grapes
2 oranges, thinly sliced
2 lemons, thinly sliced
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and diced
3 star anise pods
1 cinnamon stick
To make cold sangria, in a small saucepan, combine 1 cup wine with honey. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and stir to dissolve honey. Remove from heat and let cool. In a pitcher, combine wine-honey mixture with remaining ingredients. Stir well. Refrigerate until mixture is chilled and flavors have blended, about 2 hours. Pour sangria into individual Collins or old-fashioned glasses filled with ice for serving.
To make hot sangria, in a saucepan over medium heat, combine all ingredients, bring to a simmer, and stir to combine. Remove from heat and strain into heatproof mugs for serving. Serves 6-8.