How to Make Sangria

in Drinks

Is anyone else having as busy of a holiday season as I am? I’ve traveled from coast to coast, been all over the state of North Carolina and have seen more family and friends than I did at my wedding. I’m hitting that point where all I want to do is relax and enjoy the remainder of my vacation with a tasty cocktail in my hand. Preferably a cocktail that’s easy to make. If it comes in a pitcher that would be pretty cool too. Sangria, anyone?

Sangria is really, really easy to make. It’s also really fun to play around with. If you have some leftover fruit you need to use, or a couple cups of fruit juice you want out of the fridge, or your friends gave you 2 bottles of cabernet when you only drink pinot noir, sangria is the answer.

First, you start off with two bottles of wine. Some people will tell you to use  something sweet like a moscato or something light and fruity like a pinot noir. I disagree completely. I like a more full bodied wine such as a cabernet or shiraz. If I’m using white I tend to lean toward chardonnay or a sauvignon blanc. My theory is that the purpose of the wine is to add flavor, so use something that will come through all the other fruits. Otherwise this is just alcoholic fruit juice, although even I’ll admit that’s not necessarily a bad thing. if you want to sweeten sangria, just use some old-fashioned sugar.

You’re gonna need a whole mess of fruit. In the South “a whole mess” is a very technical term, although, I’m not entirely confident I can translate it. What you see here in this photo is roughly what you want for one batch of sangria. You also need fruit juice – about 1 cup of juice for 2 bottles of wine. I used apple juice for this recipe, but this is where the fun comes in. Try playing around with stuff like peach nectar, pomegranate or pineapple juice.

Now it’s time to add in your fruit. Here’s another place to get creative., but you need to take into account the color of your wine here. For red wine, you can almost add anything, but I like to throw in some berries and oranges since those flavors really compliment red wines. Keep in mind that if you add berries to white wine it might muddle the color of the sangria. Things like apples, grapes, peaches or kiwi tend to go better with the white wine and come out with a prettier presentation.

Lemons and limes are nearly mandatory regardless of what type of wine you use. You’ll see a lot of recipes that call for lemon lime soda. I guess in a pinch this will work fine, although I will argue until I’m blue in the face that real fruit will taste better. Just trust me on this one.

I also like to add a liquer to sangria just to give a little kick. Although I’m using a pretty basic triple sec in this recipe, I strongly recommend going with a Cointreau or some other higher-quality fruity liquer for flavor. The above photo is the result of cooking away from home and on a bank account that has been drained from Christmas shopping- it still turned out quite delicious anyway.

If you’re making a red sangria, you must, must, must, MUST add cinnamon sticks. I also added cloves cause I had some on hand, but really all you need are cinnamon sticks. If you can, add these to the serving glasses when you’re done. “Too much cinnamon” is a phrase I have NEVER heard when someone is drinking red sangria. If I had heard it I probably would have started to ignore the person immediately since I don’t associate with crazy people.

Once you’ve combined everything in a big pitcher it’s time to stir in some sugar. Here’s the thing – you can always add more sugar later, so start slow. I would start off with half the amount of sugar the recipe calls for, let it sit for 2 hours, stir, and then taste. If you want more, add it. If you’re like me and don’t like super-sweet sangria, you might be okay right where it is.

The other key to sangria is to let it marinate a while. Eight hours is good, overnight is even better. This is one reason why I think sangria is an awesome party drink – you can make it the day before and then have it chilled and waiting in the fridge when people come over. Also, I think people assume there’s some sort of magic involved with making good sangria, when it couldn’t be easier.

Trust me, although there are certain ingredients I prefer over others, it is going to be really hard to use these guidelines and end up with a bad sangria.

It might even be impossible.

If you tell me you managed to make a bad sangria, I probably won’t believe you, FYI.

Basic Red Sangria

Print this recipe!

2 750ml bottles red wine
1 cup apple juice
2 oranges, each cut into 8 wedges
2 cups chopped strawberries
1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges
1 lime, cut into 8 wedges
2/3 cup triple sec or orange-flavored liquer
½ cup sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
4 whole cloves

Combine all of the ingredients together in a large pitcher. Allow to chill for 8 hours or overnight. Remove cloves and cinnamon sticks (you can put the cinnamon sticks in serving glasses if you want). Serve over ice and enjoy!

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Tiffany @ Conor & Bella December 31, 2010 at 4:23 am

I didn’t know about adding cinnamon or cloves to sangria. This looks great and now I want some!


Blog is the New Black December 31, 2010 at 5:17 am

Sangria, YUM!


Katrina December 31, 2010 at 5:27 am

I absolutely love sangria. I went to Barcelona, Spain this summer and it is such a staple there! Mmmm…now I can make it!


Tere Payne December 31, 2010 at 6:17 am

This looks wonderful! Could you adapt to white sangria?


Caroline December 31, 2010 at 8:44 am

Of course! I included a few moderations for white sangria in the post – basically use the same steps except maybe subsituting “lighter” fruit that won’t cloud the color of the sangria. You also can omit the cinnamon and cloves.


Joanne December 31, 2010 at 11:50 am

I can drink Sangria like it’s soda. Or water. Oxygen.

This looks fantastic! I love the variety of fruits that you used…I’ve actually never seen strawberries included in the mix. Tasty delicious.


Betty @ scrambled hen fruit December 31, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Sangria is a great beverage for entertaining- easy and delicious! Yours looks wonderful. :) Hope you have a lovely new year!


Caroline January 5, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Thanks, you too Betty!


bonnie January 1, 2011 at 6:28 pm

I’ve never really liked homemade sangria– usually does not taste anything like what you get in Spain. But this sounds good. Will be trying it soon!


Caroline January 5, 2011 at 4:51 pm

It’s hard to beat sangria from Spain, but this stuff is pretty good. I really believe the trick is not to make it too sweet – alcoholic grape juice isn’t my thing


Chris January 1, 2011 at 8:28 pm

“I probably would have started to ignore the person immediately since I don’t associate with crazy people.” You’re serious about Sangria. haha. Thanks for this comprehensive, entertaining post!


Caroline January 5, 2011 at 4:51 pm

HAHA! yes indeed, I take my sangria pretty seriously :)


EatLiveRun January 2, 2011 at 5:08 am

sangria! that looks so amazing! happy new years!


Peggy January 2, 2011 at 6:14 am

Thanks for the great tip about adding cinnamon to the sangria!


Dana January 7, 2011 at 7:38 am

Your sangria looks great! I’ve never made it before, but have wanted to for quite a while. I’ve never seen liquer added to it before, what a good idea for some punch!


anne January 12, 2011 at 10:40 am

I have been dying for a great sangria recipe and this sounds like the best one so far!!



lynne April 12, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Excellant! I had the best sangria at a restuarant in St Louis. I was looking for a recipe with cinnamon sticks and triple sec. I found yours and I absolutely love it! Most of the others I found on line called for rum or brandy. This recipe is exactly what I was looking for! Drinning it right now. Cheers!!


Elizabeth May 20, 2011 at 10:22 am

Will be making this tonight! Thanks, C-line!


Shakina August 10, 2011 at 9:54 pm

Okay this was so good thank you so much for the recipe.


Deb December 11, 2011 at 2:59 am

I made this and we love it. A definite must make for ant sangria drinker.


Deb December 11, 2011 at 3:00 am

I made this and we love it. A definite must make for any sangria drinker.


Nic December 16, 2011 at 7:52 pm

This looks great! Gonna be making it for New Years Eve to take to a party…very excited!


Tammy December 31, 2011 at 5:50 pm

Going to try tonight – too bad I didn’t read earlier since it is supposed to sit/marinate – hope it’s still ok! Looks fabulous!


Adrianna January 1, 2012 at 12:42 am

Ah! Should be fine. Sangria doesn’t have to sit too long before it starts tasting delicious. :)


Pedro March 3, 2012 at 6:27 pm

How about a Premium sangria which comes in a bottle and is ready to drink without the hassle of cutting fruits or adding anything? Its tastes like wine and is 11 or 13% proof. Just chill in the fridge and serve over ice in a glass. I’ve found it here in Madrid and is going to be my cool drink for the year…….The brand is Blue Lady and is going to be exported to the US very soon.


Marea May 2, 2012 at 11:41 am

Brilliant recipe and story! I love it! Going to make some this Friday for Cinco De Mayo on Saturday. I searched and searched the web until finding your page…my search is over because this recipe sounds absolutely like something I’d love! Thanks so much!!! :)


Adrianna May 2, 2012 at 1:42 pm

YAY! Good luck.


mark June 11, 2012 at 3:16 pm

How many person can drink with the above recipe? do you have to add water? excuse me for my ignorance this is my first sangria should i make it :)


Wine sales direct July 19, 2012 at 3:43 am

looks great! must try it soon..:)


Marcia November 18, 2012 at 3:27 am

Made this for a girls night tonight and it was amazing. Shared the recipe with everyone and they all are making it for the holidays. thanks!!


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