Hailing back to Greek and Roman times, but popularized in Spain, sangria (a reference to sangre, which means “blood” in Spanish) is a drink traditionally fashioned with red wine, spices, chopped fruit and brandy. Nowadays, however, the range of sangrias has grown, and you might see white, sparkling and rosé sangrias joining the party at your local restaurants and watering holes.
So how do you make a sangria, what are the types, and what fruits do you use? PACIFIC has broken down the popular wine-based drink into easily consumable sips.
To go the traditional route, select a Spanish red wine, such as tempranillo, rioja or garnacha (grenache). If those three words cause a deer-in-headlights feeling, then either head to a wine shop for some education, or try an American fruity zinfandel for a substitute. Tip: To keep your concoction cheery, avoid using tannic and earthy wines including Italian varietals nebbiolo and sangiovese, and some pinot noirs, which will fight the fruity profile of sangria. For fruits think grapes, red skinned apples, oranges, and blackberries. Spices can include cinnamon, clove, ginger and peppercorn.
The key here is light and fresh wine with acidity, so a butterbomb chardonnay or a sweeter wine just won’t do the trick. Varietals that win are pinot grigio, riesling and Spanish whites. If sauvignon blanc is your jam, stick with the more citrusy types for standard fruity sangrias or try grassy versions for a cucumber mint sangria. Fruits for white sangria include white peaches, pears, cantaloupe, pineapple, lemon and golden, Opal, or Granny Smith apple.
Up the fun factor with a little bubble to your sangria. For a little sparkle, add vinho verde, an inexpensive Portuguese dry wine with good acidity. For a sweeter version, go for moscato, an Italian dessert bubbly or a sweeter prosecco, also from Italy. To keep things dry, try a cava from Spain or a brut sparkling wine from the United States. Fruits for sparkling sangria can include the same as whites, with the addition of strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. Want your red sangria bubbly? Add sparkling water or use sparkling red wine, like an Italian lambrusco.
Go rosé all day with this pink version of the classic, perfect for picnic-ing and brunches. Fruit-forward rosés, such as inexpensive rosados from Spain and Portugal, work well. Fruits to include in a rosé sangria include strawberries, cherries, Pink Lady apples, watermelon, raspberries and peaches.
Make it at home
Ready to try your hand at sangria-making while at home? Try this perfectly seasonal recipe from Chef Leyla Javadov of Cafe 21, a restaurant known for a wide variation of sangrias throughout the year.
Vanilla Spiced Winter Citrus Sangria:
- 1 orange
- 1 grapefruit
- 1 lime
- 1 cup of Kumquat
- 1 apple
- 1 pear
- ½ cup of sugar
- 1 Madagascar vanilla bean
- 3 whole cinnamon sticks
- 3 bottles of white wine (chef prefers Shardana from Italy)
- 1 cup of citrus liquor
- 1 cup of brandy
- Slice fruit and combine all ingredients into a large pitcher. Allow sangria to marinate for three days before serving. Best served over a glass of ice.
Looking for a single serving sangria-inspired cocktail? Try this lovely twist from La Jolla restaurant Cusp Dining & Drinks.
San Diego Sangria
- 5 oz. Templeton Rye
- .5 oz. honey
- .5 oz. lemon juice
- 1 egg white
- 2 dash orange bitters
- Cabernet float
First combine lime juice and egg white. Shake for 30 seconds in a tin. Add rest of ingredients then shake again and strain over fresh ice, then float Cabernet.