Perhaps the most famous Spanish drink of all, Red Sangria, is a refreshing, red-wine-based fruity punch, ideal for summer sipping. Glasses of the intense, blood-red concoction — hence the name, which is derived from the Spanish word for "blood," Sangre — instantly evoke thoughts of sunny days on Spanish shores. But you don’t need to hop on a plane to enjoy this most refreshing of cocktails. Red Sangria is remarkably easy to prepare. Here at WineFrog, we’ve developed the ultimate recipe to help our readers make the perfect Red Sangria. (Also read "Wine Ice Cream & Other Fun Ways to Enjoy Wine this Summer.")
What is Red Sangria?
There’s a seemingly endless list of variations of Red Sangria recipes out there — it’s simply one of those classic drinks that have not only been adapted regionally in its native Spain but also worldwide. That being said, there are a few ingredients that are (almost) always featured in Red Sangria recipes.
The first, and most obvious, is red wine. This being a Spanish drink, the best wines to use are Spanish reds — particularly those from the nation’s iconic Rioja region.
Riojas are famed for the extended periods of aging they receive before being sold. Gran Reservas must age for at least five years before you’re allowed to taste them! But it’s actually the younger, fruiter Riojas that work best in this punch.
The next, undisputed ingredient in any Red Sangria is fresh fruit. As long as it’s chopped into chunks, pretty much anything goes, though traditionally, only Spanish summer fruits like apricots, mango, melon, orange, nectarine, peach, pear, plums, raspberry, watermelon and strawberry are used, as this drink has its origins in the 18th century.
Finally, Red Sangria is traditionally sweetened before serving, normally with some sugar and/or freshly squeezed orange juice.
Though not strictly “traditional,” it’s also very common to find Red Sangria topped up with sparkling water, as well as containing an additional boozy kick, normally from brandy, flavored liqueurs, or a combination of the two.
How do you make red sangria?
When it comes to making Red Sangria, it’s a simple process — just stick all the ingredients in a pitcher, mix well, and you’re good to go! The hard part, however, is knowing exactly how much of each ingredient to add.
Have no fear, however, WineFrog has your back! We’ve tested a whole bunch of different combinations to provide our readers with the perfect Red Sangria recipe—just in time for summer!
The Perfect Red Sangria Recipe
- 750ml bottle of red wine (ideally Rioja, but if not Rioja Crianza is fine)
- 2 oz triple sec (or Cointreau)
- 3 tbsp honey (thinned with a dash of warm water to mix better)
- 2 oranges (1 sliced, 1 juiced)
- 2 blood oranges (1 sliced, 1 juiced)
- 12 oz can pink grapefruit seltzer water
- 1 handful strawberries
- 1 handful of white grapes
- 1 handful of blackberries
- 1 sliced lime
How to Make It
- In a pitcher, add wine, triple sec, honey, and freshly-squeezed orange & blood orange juice.
- Stir well to combine.
- Add fresh-fruit ingredients and stir again.
- Place Red Sangria in the fridge, and leave to stand for a couple of hours.
- Add pink grapefruit seltzer just before serving.
- Serve into chilled, ice-filled glasses.
WineFrog Top Tip: While a couple of hours are perfectly sufficient for the flavors to combine, we highly recommend mixing at least 12 hours in advance for a really refreshing fresh fruit infusion!
What Should I Pair With Red Sangria?
Our Red Sangria recipe is designed as a perfect standalone punch. But it can also be paired with food. We’ve substituted sugar for the more natural sweetness of honey, and we’ve added pink grapefruit juice for a more balanced overall flavor.
All of this means that this Red Sangria recipe will work well with any number of food pairings, though we highly recommend trying it with fresh fish and seafood. The most important thing to remember about Sangria is that it is best enjoyed with friends or family. It is a lively, festive drink that is meant for large batches and bright foods. Sangria is the perfect drink for festivals, intimate parties and events where you can self-serve pitcher style. (Learn more in "Summer Entertaining: Food and Wine Pairings of the Season.")
While a red-wine-based drink might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to pairing with seafood, the added citrus fruits in this Red Sangria are a perfect match for seafood flavors. In particular, why not try pairing with some fried calamari or even a freshly grilled whole fish? Trust us, you won’t be disappointed!