How to Make (or, not make) Sangria

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Sangria ingredients

Little did I know, after announcing that I’d be bringing a pitcher of sangria to the Tex-Mex dinner party last weekend, that every single person in attendance was recoiling in horror at the thought of having to choke down a big heaping glass of red syrup. But much to their surprise – and my relief – what I showed up to the party with was fruity, spicy, and dry enough to pair with food.

Sangria recipes are like censored old pairs of sneakers: everybody’s got one, and most of them stink. While sangria is nothing more than a lightly sweetened wine-based punch typically consumed during the summer in Portugal and Spain, the garbage you’re going to be served in the average Mexican-American restaurant is syrupy and spiced beyond belief in an attempt to cover up the rank of cheap red wine.

So in an attempt to help promote what can be a delicious summer or fall party beverage, I’m offering up a few tips, with a recipe to follow.

1. Do use an inexpensive, dry yet fruit-forward red wine in your sangria, preferably something from the Rioja region of Spain.

2. Do not think that spending $5 on a bottle of wine is going to yield delicious results.

3. Do use fresh fruit and fresh fruit juice in your sangria.

4. Do not use anything from a box, carton, jar or can in your sangria. If you don’t think you can spare the ten minutes to juice fresh oranges, pick up a six-pack of beer instead.

5. Do use decent-quality orange liqueur in your sangria. Remember, garbage in, garbage out.

6. Do not believe anyone who tells you that there is one specific recipe for sangria and that anything else isn’t real. The only requirement to making sangria is that it contains wine. Everything else is based on your personal preference.

7. Do try making your first batch with the following recipe. It’s a solid, basic recipe that you can then play with and make your own.

Sangria pitcher

Sangria Print Me

  • 1 750 ml bottle red wine
  • ¾ cup/175 ml Grand Marnier
  • 1 cup/240 ml freshly-squeezed orange juice
  • 1 oz/30 ml 2:1 simple syrup
  • 1 tsp/5 ml Angostura bitters
  1. Mix ingredients together in a large pitcher.
  2. Add pieces of fresh seasonal fruit and serve in goblets over ice.
  3. Makes 8 five-ounce servings.

Recipe printed courtesy of jeffreymorgenthaler.com

33 Replies to “How to Make (or, not make) Sangria”

  • Ginty says:

    Jeffrey! We had some great patio weather up here in Ontario so I broke out your recipe, and everyone declared it the best they’ve had! Thanks for the recipe, I might riff a little on it next time. Maybe a little suds on top,…

  • Grant says:

    Well after hours of scanning the web I finally landed on some sangria principles, thank you Mr. Morgenthaler! I could now relax and with principles in hand forge ahead into the unknown. The tip of buying a red wine from the Rioja region stood me well not only because the wine seemed perfect with the fruit, but also turned out to be a conversation piece as one of the guest’s family was originally from that region of spain – and he gave me two thumbs up on the sangria – phew! Finally I could really relax. (Or maybe that was the sangria working its magic.)
    Having had some great sangria in Costa Rica earlier this year, one of the best parts was the wonderful small bits of fruit seemingly infused with magical stuff (like sugar). So I chose blue berries, strawberries and mango (small cubes, perfectly ripe) with some larger slices of apple. When I saw I had one third of a 2 liter pitcher full of fruit I threw in Grand Marnier (3/4c), Brandy (1/3c?), (2tsp) bitters, orange juice (3/4c I only had 2 oranges) and just enough wine to cover the fruit (forgot about the simple syrup altogether). Once at the party I added the rest of the wine (2 bottles). Clearly I had somehow muddled all the proportions and was really beginning to sweat it. The first few sips were like – this is just wine – but as things gelled nicely and the sweet mango got in there it really turned into nicer and nicer sangria as the pitcher emptied. Everyone loved it. Success! Thanks again.

  • Marley says:

    Jeff:

    Could you give us your recipe for a white wine sangria?

  • Jennifer says:

    Hi, I wanted to make some sangria in mason jars as a bridal shower favor. When do you recommend pouring into the jars and can I make a warm batch and leave it out before refrigeration …say overnight so I dont have to keep cool at the shower? THanks!

  • Nathan says:

    Tried this recipe last night, to-the-letter. It’s dangerous! The Rioja was a good choice for a base – fruity, but not sweet, and the simple syrup was the right amount to give a hint of sweetness.

    I used St. George Qi White Tea Liqueur for the orange liqueur. I think next time I’ll try the Grand Marnier (I didn’t have any on hand last night) to see if it’s better. I think the GM might make things a bit sweeter, though.

    The market had some amazing blackberries and pears, so that was the fresh fruit in the mix.

    Thanks Jeffrey! Good stuff. I can’t wait for your next Small Screen Network episode.

  • Wendy Sepulveda says:

    HI, I moved to NY months ago. I want to patent my sangria and sell it only on a preorder basis only. (fresh) since this is a cold bottled sangria made of fresh ingredients. How can I get started?
    I’ve already started to look at glass bottles and artwork for the sangria. What would be the next step, or the first one? Loking to sell locally, (NY city area)

  • Brian Bellows says:

    Jeff,

    Have you ever used a Birbet for Sangria? Or have any thoughts on that?

  • Jennifer says:

    I’m going to make a concerted effort to use Rioja next time!! This is close to what I use, I do add a splash of Sprite, and a wallop of brandy. Very very light on the sugar, heavy on the fruit. Thirsty now!

  • Max Tagher says:

    Jeff, echoing Derric’s question, do you recommend letting the sangria sit in the fridge overnight before serving? My friend recommended that.

    We concluded that if we make it before hand, we should still wait to squeeze the orange juice because I know that goes back quickly after squeezing (though maybe it wouldn’t here because it’s mixed with the wine?).

  • Ingo says:

    First of all thank you very much for your tasty and very delicious and timeless recipes, always cause an irresistible urge to imitate me.

    I love to drink my Sangria with Port Wine, it smells a little bit sweeter for me.

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