Holiday Sangria

Jump to recipe
Holiday Sangria - perfect for Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving and all of your holiday celebrations, this a make-ahead cocktail is a festive crowd-pleaser

Infused with cranberry, orange and apple, this make-ahead cocktail is a festive crowd-pleaser that’s perfect for Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving and all of your holiday celebrations.

 

 

 

 

Looking for a signature drink to complement a festive menu or take to a holiday gathering?

Enter the following sangria.🍷

This jewel-hued beverage will serve you well from Halloween through New Year’s - although there’s really no reason to stop there. A balanced, fruit-forward sangria offers a lovely accompaniment to a wide range of cuisines and occasions all year long. And if you choose, you can alter the fruit according to what’s in season.

Notably, cranberry juice and crisp apples complement fresh oranges in this seasonal twist on the traditional, citrus-laced Spanish cocktail. The end result is a drink that’s layered with flavor and just the right amount of natural sweetness.

I first fell in love with sangria when I was studying in Madrid during my college years. The wine that serves as the base of the drink is “fruity” (in wine terms) but not sweet; so the addition of fresh fruit injects a natural sweetness that creates broad appeal. The saturated fruit offers a flavor-enhanced treat at the bottom of each glass.

Holiday Sangria - perfect for Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving and all of your holiday celebrations, this a make-ahead cocktail is a festive crowd-pleaser

When I started making this party-pleaser on my own, I wondered what type of wine to use. While it’s hard to go really wrong, the end result will be better when following a few simple recommendations. I’ve included a general description of what type of wine to buy in the recipe notes along with a few specific brands and varieties for those who may find it helpful.

Above all, I feel strongly that you do not need to spend a lot for the wine. I rarely stray from the $9.99 to $12.99 range, with excellent results.

Conveniently, the recipe can be completely prepared in advance. In fact, an overnight soak (or even two or three nights) is critical for optimal flavor, as it allows time for the chopped fruit to infuse the wine mixture. In turn, the fruit absorbs the flavor of the liquid, turning the pieces into an especially tasty treat that add something special to each glassful.

Holiday Sangria - perfect for Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving and all of your holiday celebrations, this a make-ahead cocktail is a festive crowd-pleaser
Holiday Sangria - perfect for Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving and all of your holiday celebrations, this a make-ahead cocktail is a festive crowd-pleaser
What type of wine should I buy for sangria?
  • “Fruity” is the key word-but it’s important to remember that, with wine, fruity doesn’t mean sweet. A fruity wine can be dry, which is the opposite of sweet. When making sangria, you want to aim for a fruity wine that isn’t too dry. Additional details and helpful buying tips are provided in the recipe notes, but know that you can ultimately use a variety of wines, from an Australian Shiraz or Merlot to an Oregon Pinot Noir or a California Red Zinfandel or red wine blend.
  • Remember expensive doesn’t necessarily mean tastier. I usually spend in the $10 range.
What type of orange liqueur should I use?
  • There are many varieties of orange liqueur, namely Triple Sec, Grand Marnier and Cointreau. I typically use Triple Sec (the brand name of my current bottle is Montezuma), which tends to be the least expensive of the three. Despite the cheaper price, Triple Sec has a bright orange flavor that shines in sangria.
What’s the advantage of letting the sangria soak overnight?
  • An overnight soak allows the fruit to infuse the wine, letting the juices mix in and sweeten the drink naturally. Ideally, sangria’s sweetness will come from the fruit itself, and perhaps the wine (depending where you buy on the sweet-to-dry scale; more on that above and in the buying tips below the recipe). Note that if you drink the sangria right away, it will likely taste a little harsh or unbalanced but will mellow and sweeten over time.
  • Because the flavors continue to improve over several days, you can prepare sangria 2-3 days in advance, if desired. Any leftovers can be enjoyed over the following week or so.
How can I adjust the flavor of sangria?
  • For a minimally sweet sangria, choose a fruity but dry wine.
  • Those who enjoy a sweeter drink may like to add a cup or two of lemon-lime soda, like 7-Up or Sprite, before serving. (I learned this tip from a Spaniard, so I think we can even call it authentic!)
  • An alternative way to create a sweeter sangria is to stir in some honey or simple syrup to taste. (To make simple syrup, add equal parts water and granulated sugar to a small pot and bring to a simmer, stirring just long enough for the sugar to dissolve. Then cool and refrigerate until ready to use.)
  • For a drink that’s lighter but not sweeter, you may add a cup or so of sparkling water before serving.
  • Similarly, you may add an extra glug of orange liqueur if you enjoy that flavor, or do the same with the cranberry or freshly-squeezed orange juice.
  • Apple and orange complement this drink nicely, but halved red grapes or chopped persimmon would be lovely as well. Helpful hint: If using persimmon, opt for the squatter Fuyu variety, which becomes sweet when it is still somewhat firm. The more elongated Hachiya variety only becomes sweet when it ripens to an extremely soft stage, and the almost gel-like texture isn’t suitable for sangria.
Holiday Sangria - perfect for Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving and all of your holiday celebrations, this a make-ahead cocktail is a festive crowd-pleaser

 

Holiday Sangria
Yield: ~1½ quarts
Perfect for Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving and all of your holiday celebrations, this a make-ahead cocktail is a festive crowd-pleaser!
Ingredients
  • 1 bottle (750ml) fruity, not-too-dry red wine (see buying tips)
  • 1 cup (240ml) cranberry juice
  • ½ cup (120ml) freshly squeezed orange juice (mandarin or clementine juice works well, too)
  • ½ cup (120ml) orange liqueur (I use Triple Sec; could use Grand Marnier or Cointreau)
  • 1 apple, cored and chopped (I like a sweet, firm apple like a honeycrisp and do not peel)
  • 1 orange, quartered and then sliced (again, no need to peel)*
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  •  Optional for garnish: apple and/or orange wedge, cinnamon stick
Instructions

Combine everything except the optional garnishes in a large pitcher or sangria bowl and refrigerate several hours, but preferably overnight, before serving. The sangria will keep for the better part of a week and the flavors will continue to improve over several days.

Serve over ice and include some of the fruit with each serving. If desired, garnish with an additional wedge of fruit or a cinnamon stick.

Notes

*It is traditional to keep the skins on the fruit when adding to sangria. Some of the fruit is typically included in each glass of sangria and usually eaten. The natural oils in the rinds add flavor to the sangria as they soften and absorb the other flavors, making them edible and tasty.

More fruit? If inclined, you could add other fruit like red grapes and chopped persimmon. If using persimmon, choose the squatter Fuyu variety for its sweet flavor and texture that is firmer than the more oblong Hachiya persimmon.

What wine to use?

Buying Tips: Any fruity wine is a likely to be a good choice, but what does that mean? First, it’s good to remember that the words “fruity” and “sweet” are different when used to describe wine. In the case of sangria, a fruity wine assures that the flavors will be complementary. So what are some good “fruity” options? Sometimes I use a Rioja from Spain. They can be dry (i.e., not sweet), so a less dry Malbec or Merlot will provide a slightly sweeter result. A fruity Zinfandel is another great pick. (I recently used Rancho Zabaco from Dancing Bull, a California wine that retails for about $10.00.) A Spanish Garnacha (like Bodegas Borsao, similarly priced) is another good choice. I’m not a wine expert but do find that you can purchase a good bottle in the $9.99 to $12.99 range. When in doubt, ask someone who works at the store where you are purchasing. Employees are often knowledgeable and quite helpful. I’ve also found that wines from South America, South Africa and Australia are consistently good and reasonably priced. To sum it up: look for a fruity wine that’s dry if you prefer a less sweet sangria and sweet if you prefer more sweetness.

The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments

  1. Heather Jane

    Oooh! This is exciting. I love sangria and I’m so grateful for your tips for choosing the wine. Maybe I’ll finally create the version I’m dreaming of!

    Reply