Are you ready for Thursday? Holiday season is in full swing. Holiday parties and family gatherings are arriving at a steady clip. If you’re hosting anything, this post is for you. Sangria is a fantastic holiday cocktail option and if made with a good red wine and a little brandy, it can be elegant, festive, and a self-serve go-to for guests. I have always loved sangria, both red and white, and I think a great addition to any holiday gathering. Super easy to make, sangria gets better and more flavorful with time to set—allowing you to make this ahead of your event. Serve it individually, in pitchers, or in table-top glass coolers that highlight the beautiful sliced fruit you used.
Looking way back in history, early Greeks and Romans mixed red wine with sugar, spices, and whatever was on hand and called it “hippocras“. Sangria and mulled wine are likely based on this drink, the alcohol content of which made it much safer to drink than water. The modern-day Spanish were doing something similar, but called it sangria, which means “blood” in Spanish. Typically made with a Spanish Tempranillo and other wine from the Rioja region, they would mix it with citrus fruit. By 1700, sangria made its way to France, though with French rather than Spanish grapes. White sangria and sparkling sangria eventually become just as popular.
The more modern-day popularity of sangria here in the United States is often attributed to the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City. There, Spain sponsored a pavilion featuring this popular drink, and Americans quickly fell in love. Today, under European law, real sangria must be made in Spain or Portugal and contain less than 12 percent alcohol. If you have traveled to Europe, you may have had some delicious sangria. But if you ask me, some of the very best sangria is the type you make at home, where you can adjust ingredients to your own liking.
I always enjoy a great glass of sangria and holidays are a perfect time for the red variety. Lots of red wines work well when making sangria, for this recipe I suggest you use a reasonably priced one that has fruity notes and low tannins. If you need more guidance on wine selection, check out this link. Holiday sangria is festive and warming, it’s truly a lovely make-ahead cocktail that no one will pass up.
- 1 bottle fruity red wine, ideally with low tannins
- 1/2 orange, thinly sliced, plus additional for garnish
- 1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
- 1/2 lime thinly sliced
- 4 ounces brandy
- 3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 3 ounces simple syrup
- 1/2 red apple, thinly sliced, plus additional for garnish
- Step 1 Using a glass pitcher, add the sliced orange, sliced lemon and sliced lime. Using a muddler, gently muddle the citrus fruit.
- Step 2 Add the brandy and orange juice and mix.
- Step 3 Add the wine and simple syrup and stir to incorporate.
- Step 4 Add the apple slices. Cover with plastic wrap and ideally allow to chill for about 3 hours or more so the flavors incorporate.
- Step 5 Serve on ice with apple and orange slices for garnish.