HOW TO: MAKE THE PERFECT SANGRIA
In this week’s ‘How To’ guide, we’re showing some love to one of the most popular and versatile wine cocktails: Sangria. A heady mix of fresh fruits, brandy, soda and red wine, Sangria is an easy punch to make in batches (and is even easier to drink!).
With endless options, Sangria (meaning ‘bloodletting’ in Spanish) is a mad scientist’s dream! Start with our perfect Sangria recipe here (including some bonus top tips), and once you’ve mastered this, you can let your imagination run wild.
Step One – Picking the Wine
Let’s start with the golden rule – you can’t make good Sangria without good wine. You don’t need anything too expensive (you certainly don’t want to use that 20-year old Barolo you’ve been saving), but a bad wine won’t be rescued by the addition of any fruits or brandy you’re going to add.
A young, refreshing red works nicely in our classic Sangria recipe. Try Pure Vision’s Cabernet Sauvignon for dark berries and cassis flavours, or Arnaio by Valdonica for ripe strawberries and cacao notes.
We love a traditional red wine Sangria, but once you’ve mastered the basic recipe, you can go off-piste and try something different. A dry white wine, like the Mersino by Valdonia, offers a super-refreshing spin on the classic. You can also check out our range of orange wines that would work beautifully with added fruits and booze. The choice is yours!
Step Two – Preparing the Fruits
Here’s where you can have some fun. ‘Traditional’ recipes will often call for apples and oranges, and there’s no harm in that at all. But the flavours of Sangria can stand up to a range of fruits, from soft berries to a variety of citrus. Use what suits you and your guests’ palettes, what you can find in the fridge or whatever looks good at the market.
There are a couple of rules in play with fruits, however. Make sure you wash the rinds of waxy fruit and cut all fruits into generous pieces that will fit nicely in the glass. There is no need to dice anything, but half an orange is too big – you get our drift. Use a balance of citrus and other fruits to ensure the drink remains well-rounded. And don’t skimp: red wine and brandy are dominant flavours, so put a fair amount of fruit in there to ensure the punch remains fragrant and refreshing.
Top tip: match the fruit and spice notes in your wine to create a well-balanced drink. If you’re using a lighter, younger wine, you’ll want to match the colour of the fruits (like redcurrants, raspberries, blackberries). Similarly, for an older, more intense wine, you may pick up some oak-tinted spices – use that profile to adjust your sangria accordingly.
If you don’t know what fruit or spice flavours your wine displays, take a look at the handy notes we have on all our wines to help you out.
Step Three – Assembly
Now that you’ve picked your wine and matched your fruits, you’re ready to start mixing! Choose a big pitcher to fit all the drink and fruits in, make space in your fridge and find some punch glasses (to be honest, any vessel will do!).
- Fruits (enough to fit around halfway-up your pitcher, see above)
- 750ml red wine
- 120ml brandy
- 50ml orange liqueur, such as Cointreau (optional, replace with fresh orange juice if preferred)
- 300-500ml chilled sparkling water
- Mint leaves (or similar) to garnish
To make your Sangria, add the fruit and carefully muddle to release juice and the essential oil from the zest of the citrus. Then add all the remaining ingredients minus the sparkling water and garnish to a pitcher and stir. Chill until required (or add ice if serving immediately) and top with sparkling water before serving.
Top tip: If you’re preparing for a party, you can make this a few hours in advance and leave it in the fridge (no more than a day, though). The longer the fruit gets to infuse in the wine, the more delicious the drink will become. Just make sure to add the sparkling water right before serving, so that you don’t lose any fizz.
Step 4 – Variations
There are endless ways to make a fantastic Sangria, so we recommend experimenting to see what you like. Here are some variations to get you started:
- Not a brandy fan? Try spiced dark rum, or skip the added alcohol entirely for a lighter drink.
- Want something a little fruitier? Replace the orange liqueur with orange juice to taste.
- Not sweet enough for you? Try using 3 to 4 tablespoons of brown sugar (or some maple syrup) mixed with the fruit. Be careful when stirring, the sugar may bruise the fruit.
- Looking for something with more depth? Add spices like cinnamon and star anise – toast lightly and add to the mix when cool.
Get the party started!
There you have it – with this classic Sangria recipe under your belt, you’re sure to be the designated bartender at many parties to come. Sangria, after all, is a drink made for many occasions – we love it on a chilled-out sunny afternoon too, so if you’re cooking up a Spanish feast or looking for a fruity drink for a bbq, this is a great shout.