Blood red, studded with fruit and quite refreshing, sangría is a festive wine punch that has become synonymous with Spain itself. First concocted in Spain in the 1600s, sangría was popularized during the 1800s with its appearance at aristocratic parties. Today, sangría is a summer beverage enjoyed throughout Spain at parties and social gatherings as well as in many restaurants and sidewalk cafes. The name of the drink actually comes from the color of the wine, as it literally means “bleeding” in Spanish.
What’s in Sangría
Sangría is typically made with red wine, sugar, whole cinnamon sticks, different types of fruit pieces (like diced or sliced lemons, oranges, apples and peaches), orange or lemon soda or soda water, and a splash of one or more liqueurs such as brandy, cognac, red vermouth and orange liqueur.
The ingredients are combined and placed in the refrigerator to chill for several hours. This allows the flavors to marry and create the signature sangría taste. The cinnamon sticks, however, are always removed before serving.
Sangría is usually served in individual glasses or in a communal glass pitcher with a wooden spoon and ice cubes. The wooden spoon allows the pourer to strain out or add fruit pieces and ice cubes as desired.
When summer temperatures rise in Sevilla, Madrid, and on Spain’s coasts, ordering a glass of sangría seems like an imperative, especially if you can sit outside in the shade to enjoy it!
You should try glasses of it at different places, as there may be as many recipes for Spanish sangría as there are Spaniards! Personal preference has a lot to do with what is in the mix and in what proportions. Don’t be afraid to whip up your own batch of sangría at home either!
I recommend using a cheap red wine from Spain’s La Rioja region to do so. Firstly, La Rioja is Spain’s main wine producing region and is hailed for the quality of its wines. Secondly, I find that cheaper wines tend to absorb the other flavors better than more expensive bottles.
But for something not so red, try a white sangría made with Barcelona’s champagne, a sparkling wine called cava. It often comes without cinnamon and uses pear or strawberry slices.
No matter if it is made red or white though, sangría is a refreshing Spanish drink best enjoyed amongst friends!