Red wine lovers can have their summer fun too!
Okay – I am using the term ‘wine’ loosely here because Sangria has so many addtions wine is really just the base.
There are 4 main components to modern Sangria – the wine, the bubbles, the fortification and the fruit. oh… And LOTS of ice! It is the ice cold fruitiness that makes Sangria so refreshing!
The earliest and most traditional Sangria recipes don’t have any carbonated beverages added but the spritz tends to interest and appeal to the North American market. So the bubbles are fun but optional!
The Best Wine for Sangria
You want a fruity, dry, medium bodied wine with low tannins. It doesn’t have to be expensive but it has to be good enough quality that you would drink it.
Traditional Spanish Sangria would have Tempranillo or Garnacha (Grenache) as the wine base. You could use any Rioja labeled wine but look for a Crianza so it is still fruity and fairly acidic.
Grenache blends from Rhone or Languedoc/Rousillon areas would also work well.
Outside of the traditional you could look for a fruity Merlot or a Beaujolais.
What Do I Use For Bubbles?
If you want something with a bit of fizz to make your Sangria lively you usually only use about 1 cup of Cava or soda to a 750 mL bottle of wine. The very traditional Sangria recipes do not have any carbonated beverages added. But they are fun….
You could use a portion of Spanish Cava or Prosecco for the bubbles if you want a touch of elegance!
Soda water is great if you want to keep you Sangria from being too sweet. Flavoured Perrier or other sparkling water can be interesting. (Perrier grapefruit flavoured is fun!)
A lemon-lime soda like 7 Up or Sprite is also very common. Italian blood orange soda is awesome if you can find it!
What is the Best Brandy for Sangria?
Brandy is the traditional fortification addition. Again – you don’t have to use expensive stuff- the complex nuances will not be noticeable once it is all mixed in with the wine and juices. Torres makes a wonderful, reasonable Spanish brandy. A Napoleon VSOP or other French brandy would also be fine.
But … you don’t have to use brandy.
A fruity Vermouth- preferably with a citrus profile is another excellent choice!
You could choose a liqueur like Grand Marnier or Cointreau that would add to the orange notes.
What is the Best Fruit for Sangria?
Traditional Sangria tends to have orange and lemon slices added. You can also add fresh lime, cherries, raspberries or strawberries to enhance the fruity flavour of the wine.
Besides the sliced fruit you may want to add a cup or orange or other fruit juice. I like Guava and Passionfruit juice in mine!
I have seen banana slices used as well.
Remember – after you drink the Sangria you will have ‘drunken’ fruit leftover that you can eat or add to ice cream or vanilla pudding! So pick fruit you like.
Sangria is very versatile and you can adjust it to suit your tastes.
If you like a drier end product go with club soda or sparkling water or Cava for the bubbles.
If you like a sweeter version you can add sugar. Taste your ‘finished’ product. If you used a soda for flavour it will already be adding sweetness. If you used liqueur instead of brandy that is also adding some sweetness. It is not uncommon to see 1/4 – 1/2 cup of sugar added to the recipe. So taste your mixture and if you want it sweeter add sugar – but start with just a bit and increase it to taste.
In Spain there is often a cinnamon stick added to the mix for a bit of spiciness. This is less common in North America. I can attest that it does add an interesting note to the finished product!
For the fortification – Sangria can be a light drink if you have cut the wine with soda and a bit of juice and if you use a light hand with the brandy or liqueur. But be careful – if you used wine and Cava for the sparkling and good portion of brandy or other fortification – you can end up with a very potent drink. Adding sugar may make you drink it faster and sugar tends to enhance alcohol as well.
So choose your ingredients and ratios to suit the occasion!
- 1 750mL bottle red wine preferable tempranillo or garnacha See Notes below for my exact combination.
- 1 cup club soda or other carbonated soda like Sprite or 7 Up. You can top up individual drinks with a bit more if you want your drink to be quite lively at the time you drink it.
- 1 cup orange juice can substitute fruit juice of choice
- 1/4 cup Cointreau or Vermouth or Grand Marnier or Brandy. You can increase amount to 1/2 cup if desired
- 3 oranges one thinly sliced; two juiced
- 1 cup strawberries sliced vertically or 1 lime sliced or 1 cup cherries halved
- 1/2 cup pitted, sliced cherries
- 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and chopped optional
- sugar to taste most recipes use 1/4-1/2 cup of white sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick optional
- Slice orange and other fruit and place in bottom of the pitcher. Mix wine, juice soda and Cointreau and pour over fruit. Add cinnamon stick if using. Chill a few hours in the fridge or overnight.
- Serve over glasses filled with ice.