If you’re cooking Spanish food (or even if you’re not!), sangria is the perfect drink for almost any outdoor get-together. The refreshing blend of wine, liquor and fresh fruit can be easily varied to include your favorite flavors and ingredients, and it’s easy to make it from scratch with just a little patience.
For expert sangria tips, we turned to Tanya Booth, co-owner of The Spanish Table in San Francisco, Berkeley, Mill Valley and Seattle. 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.” We also love this sangria punch bowl!
To get you started, below are some of our favorite sangria recipes for all seasons.
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.
Recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma Cooking for Friends: Fresh Ways to Entertain with Style, by Alison Attenborough and Jamie Kimm
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.
For the spiced simple syrup:
1 cup (8 oz./250 g) sugar
1/2 cup (1 1/2 oz./45 g) Williams Sonoma mulling spices
2 bottles (each 24 fl. oz./750 ml) red wine
1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) apple brandy
1 apple, thinly sliced
1 pear, thinly sliced
6 star anise pods
To make the spiced simple syrup, in a saucepan over high heat, combine the sugar and mulling spices with 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a jar and discard the solids. You will need 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250) of the spiced simple syrup for this recipe; refrigerate the rest for making more cocktails. The syrup will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
To assemble the sangria, peel 2 of the oranges and break each into segments. Put the orange segments into a large bowl. Using a cocktail muddler, muddle the oranges, pressing to release their juice. Pour the wine over the muddled oranges and stir to combine. Strain the mixture into a large carafe or pitcher and discard the orange solids. Add the brandy and 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) of the spiced syrup and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, and preferably overnight. Cut the remaining orange into thin slices. Garnish the sangria with the orange, apple and pear slices and the star anise. Pour or ladle into glasses and serve. Serves 10.
Recipe by Ashley Rose Conway, creator of Craft + Cocktails