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
  • ยพ 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”

  • Dave Stolte says:

    Couldn’t be simpler Jeff. Nice way to break it down for those intimidated by Sangria. From here, they can progress to adding a shot of brandy or some bubbles to the mix if they like. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Jeremy says:

    I’ve been experimenting with different bitters in my Manhattans and Sours.

    Are Angostura bitters the only kind you suggest for Sangria? I was contemplating using some blood orange bitters in your mix above.

    • Jeremy

      As I said, feel free to use this as a base for your experiments. I like the earthy, Christmas spices in Angostura but you might like playing with Fee Brother’s Old Fashioned Bitters, or whatever strikes your fancy.

      That said, I find that recipes that use orange juice, orange liqueur, and orange bitters to taste like, well, orange overkill.

  • Brain says:

    Thanks for helping to correct the record on Sangria!

    There are many more recipes, published in the earliest cocktail books, for Sangria (or Sangaree, as the were called) — and they don’t even have to be based on wine.

    http://www.classicmixology.com/sangria

  • Mike says:

    I’ve messed with the Fee Brothers bitters in both white and red sangria and have had some awesome results. I also really enjoy adding Vermouth into the mix.

    I know the season has recently changed, but this Blanco Sangria Recipe killed for me all summer at the bar and a few weddings I tended.

    Blanco Sangria
    1 750ml bottle of white wine (really most work well, but steer away from Rieslings and Grigio)
    4 oz Cointreau
    4 oz St. Germain Elderflower
    3 oz Boissiere Dry Vermouth
    Juice of 1 lemon
    2 ounces 1:1 simple syrup
    4-5 heavy dashes of Fee Brothers Rhubarb bitters

    Build in a pitcher with little ice, add fruit, and serve on ice.

  • JD says:

    I’ve found that white sangrias are tasty if made with vinho verde. The low ABV and ever-so slight fizziness mean that it plays very well with a variety of hard liquor additions. Or if you go easy on the booze then you have the ability to quaff quite a bit without keeling over.

    I once tasted what may be the worst sangria ever. A friend bought a jug of pre-made, sweetened sangria from (I believe) Carlo Rossi, not knowing that sangria is not a style of wine that is then turned into a “sangria punch”. She proceeded to use this concoction in a regular recipe, adding even MORE sugar, grenadine, and bottom-shelf triple sec. It was so syrupy, with the viscosity of maple syrup. One sip made my stomach turn. Gross.

  • Tony Harion says:

    Oh! just a reminder: donโ€™t forget to eat the fruit!

  • Jeff, hermano,
    Very correct recipe, very good recipes from other countries to teach in your blog.
    Sangria is a great way to share wine with friends.
    Greetings from Argentina, your friend.
    Federico Cuco

  • Sully says:

    Excellent recipe.

    You might try making a sherry-based sangria sometime. A local tapas restaurant makes an okay one. Done right, it’s like the combination of fruit and nuts. I wish I could offer you a recipe but I have hunch that simply the suggestion is enough for someone like you.

    Keep blogging! I found you from the post about neat/up etc. and it was entertaining to read the comments.

  • janice says:

    Where are you? I miss reading your blog. And don’t think hauling out the eggnog recipe again is going to suffice…

  • mata says:

    I bet you make better Sangria than they do here in Spain ha ha ha!

  • Jae Penzien says:

    Thank you so much, this was a good read. I was actually born in Spain (I’m not telling you what year though!) but was moved around europe and lastly settled in the UK when I was 7. I dont remember an awful lot of the few years I was in spain, but the smell of spanish food always seems to get me going or something. It’s weird how I dont remember anything except the smells,isn’t it! Anyway, thank you again. I’ll get my son to add your website to my rss thing…

  • Deric says:

    Do you recommend after preparing and adding fruit to let it chill in the fridge overnight or longer?

  • Thanks for a standard sangria recipe. I was probably like most of the people at the party originally – I expect sangria to be horrible if I don’t make it myself. I usually add a little lime bar mix for the sweetness instead of the simple syrop.

  • Stuart says:

    Very nice. Was a good drink – I’d like to turn it into a staple ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Cindi L. says:

    Thank you for explaining Sangria simply. I plan to try this over the weekend and see how my guests like it. I’ve only ever tried sangria once before, it was a fall sangria cocktail I got from another blog I follow. The recipe was good but involved cooking the apples/alcohol together and waiting over night for it to chill. It also had a cinnamon harvest sugar rim. The taste was great and our party guests loved it. I guess that experience lead me to believe I had to cook all Sangrias. I see that’s not a standard approach now after reading your post. Thanks and keep up the great posts.

  • Tommy says:

    I just tried this recipe (no alterations) with a Beaujolais over the 4th with rave reviews. I really liked the Grand Marnier in the mix. Thanks for making the celebration a hit!

  • Ben P says:

    Made a double batch of this for my friends engagement party last night. It was a big hit. Built it up in a glass gallon jar. Upped the simple syrup a tad from 1 1/2 oz to 2 oz of 1:1. Also found Rioja wine, which I was worried I wouldn’t find. Substituted Patron Citronge for the Grand Marnier, mostly for reasons of cost. Figured it was better to skimp there than on the wine. I was very happy with the results. Next time I’m going to add the simple syrup last and see how it tastes without the extra sugar. While it wasn’t overly sweet, I wouldn’t consider what I made to be “dry”. It also seemed to taste better to me after sitting on some ice for a little bit, for some cooling and watering down.

    Glad I had a little strainer to filter out some of the orange pulp. Guess I need a new orange juicer.

  • Duff says:

    Awesome recipe. I like that is is simple, and restrained- focusing on the flavors. I have had a lot of terrible sangria from chain restaurants. There was also a terrible trend of making “sangria” for parties in college.

    One question, besides Grand Marnier, what are your thoughts on other “orange” liquers? If I were to sub in Cointreau, do you think it might be wise to reduce the amount of syrup to balance it out?

  • Steve says:

    Great advice. Not sure if the picture is an actual photo of your sangria or not, but from what I can see in the photo, there’s one slight problem with the sangria: the fruit isn’t diced properly. It may be more photogenic as it appears above, but in my opinion, drinking sangria should not only be delicious, but fun, too. Thus, I’d recommend dicing your apples into tiny bite-sized pieces so that you can take in a small cube with every sip. One of the most satisfying things about drinking sangria is the experience of crunching down on a juicy wine-infused piece of apple.

    Maybe some people like to save a bigger apple slice for the end, but I’m a big fan of having fun every step of the way rather than waiting for the finish. To each his own…

  • Marta Monteiro says:

    Hello, Jeffrey!

    I am a Portuguese bartender who hated Sangria until I’ve started working at a bar who does this amazin Sangria not only with Red wine, but also white wine a Sparkling wine or Champagne.

    You are completly right: there is no perfect solution for a Sangria.
    the basics is: wine, fresh fruit ( all fruit you wish – for the champagne raspberries to go along are amazing!!), some sugar, liquors. My mother even puts cinnamon, vodka and sprite!

    Don’t ever buy bottled sangria – it sucks!!
    Don’t ever EVER prepare the sangria the day before!! It should allways be prepared in the moment. My mother told me the fruit ferments and the result is not so good!! eheheheh

    I’m glad to see this recipe here! And glad you have enjoyed it!

    Many thanks.
    Marta

  • 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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