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How to Make Sangria

Sangria is a classic European drink that has gained fans worldwide. This wine-based cocktail is perfect for hot summer days and has excellent versatility at the table because it pairs well with many different foods.

Interestingly, not all sangria is made the same way; variations exist, and creativity is encouraged. Sangria can be as varied as wine itself, which opens a world of delicious possibilities. A best-selling drink in many restaurants worldwide, sangria is also easy to make at home, which is one reason why it’s so popular. Keep reading to learn more about this vibrant drink and how to make a batch at home.

What Is Sangria?

Sangria originates from the Iberian peninsula, which encompasses Spain and Portugal. Although the name means “bloodletting,” it has nothing to do with actual blood but instead the wine-making process. Bleeding some of the grape juice from a fermentation vat to increase the wine’s concentration is not uncommon. An excellent way to use sweet, bled wine is by making sangria.

Concisely, sangria is a punch consisting of wine, a sweetener, chunks of fruit, and sometimes a dash of brandy—or something stronger. The result is a sweet, vinous drink with a fruity personality. Thanks to the wine, the cocktail has the most vibrant ruby-red color, making it even more appealing.

What’s in Sangria?

Typical sangria contains the same alcohol level as the wine used to make it—if not less—averaging between 12% and 14% ABV. Of course, adding juice or sparkling water to the mixture dilutes its alcoholic strength. On the other hand, adding fruit schnapps, brandy, or cognac can restore some of its alcohol kick.

The main ingredient in any sangria is wine. While you want to use high-quality table wine for this specialty, don’t splurge on a pricy bottle. Using fine wine to make sangria is a sure way to ruin a perfect bottle of wine—not because it won’t taste good but because the other ingredients will take center stage and change the wine’s personality. Here’s where wine in a box and other inexpensive alternatives come in handy. Although using red wine to make sangria is typical, you can also use white wine or rosé wine to produce equally exciting results.

How to Make Sangria

To make sangria, you need a bottle of wine and a bottle opener. You also need a vessel to combine the ingredients in. Carafes are perfect for this.

Next up is a sweetener. You can add a couple of tablespoons of sugar to taste or mix orange juice with the wine for a different take. Syrups are also common sweeteners in sangria.

Then there’s the fruit. Here’s where your creativity comes in, as grapes, pineapple chunks, sliced peaches, apples, and pears are all typical but not your only options. Use what you have on hand, and keep it seasonal for the best results.

Finally, add a sour ingredient to the mix—whether it’s sour orange, lemon, or lime juice, as the citrus acidity will balance the cocktail’s sweetness.

There are plenty of sangria recipes out there, and you can make your own to taste. These are the basic steps for making sangria at home.

A Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Prepare the fruit, cutting it into bite-sized chunks.
  2. Pour the wine into a carafe, and sweeten it with sugar, orange juice, or both. Stir to dissolve.
  3. Adjust the acidity with a splash of lemon juice. Taste until just right.
  4. Incorporate the fruit, and refrigerate immediately.

How to Serve Sangria

Sangria is best enjoyed cold, ideally at fridge temperature. Adding ice to sangria is not uncommon but also not the best practice, as the ice quickly dilutes the sangria. At the very least, pour the sangria straight out of the fridge into a glass filled with fresh ice, and keep it from sitting too long.

A carafe is every sangria-lover’s best friend, as it holds enough sangria to entertain your guests and is easy to keep in the fridge or on the table. Carafes also have the ideal opening size to allow you to pour the fruit along with the wine.

Since cocktails are just half of the story, ensure you serve sangria with bite-sized finger food—like canapés cured meats, fresh cheese, and other bites. To keep things authentic, take inspiration from the varied Spanish tapas menu. Salud!

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