We here at The Kitchn are firm believers in the power of sangria. Pull a pitcher from the fridge as guests arrive and no one needs much encouragement to start pouring glasses. It feels fancy and instantly festive, but sangria is also one of the easiest big-batch cocktails you can make. As the party host, it's a no-brainer.
The primary qualification for the wine going into your sangria? That it be cheap! Any red wine that you enjoy drinking is a good candidate, and it shouldn't be expensive. Here we use an inexpensive Rioja from Spain, but you could also use Malbec or Merlot for a sweeter result.
The Overnight Resting Period Is Important!
Most sangria recipes call for the wine to rest overnight, or at the very least, for a few hours in the refrigerator. This lets the fruit infuse the wine, letting its juices get in the mix and sweeten up the drink. In our opinion, the sweetness in sangria should come from the fruit itself, and perhaps the wine, but not soda like 7-Up. (If you like your sangria to be sweeter, try substituting tonic water for the soda water.)
You won't get this lovely, fruity sweetness unless the sangria has a period to rest in the fridge. If you taste the sangria just after mixing it, you'll probably think it tastes harsh or unbalanced. After a night in the fridge, it will taste mellow and juicy. Sangria gets better and better as it sits.
For basic sangria, you need a bottle of red wine, some orange liquor, some brandy, and some fresh fruit.
How To Make Sangria
Serves 6 to 8
What You Need
1/2 cup brandy
1/4 cup orange liquor, like Cointreau
1 (750-ml) bottle red wine
2 to 3 cups sparkling water, chilled
Cut up the fruit: Cut the oranges and apples into thin slices or wedges. Leave the peels on. Transfer the cut fruit to a pitcher.
Add the brandy: Measure the brandy and pour it over the fruit.
Add the orange liquor: Measure the orange liquor and pour it into the pitcher as well.
Add the wine: Uncork the wine and pour it into the pitcher.
Stir to combine: Stir the liquor, wine, and fruit together.
Cover and refrigerate: Cover the pitcher and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight. Do not taste the sangria now; you will be disappointed! It gets softer, sweeter, and much more delicious overnight in the fridge.
Top with sparkling water: When ready to serve, top off the sangria with sparkling water. Stir gently to combine. Taste and add more if desired. Scoop a few pieces of fruit into each glass when serving.
For sweeter sangria, use tonic water instead of sparkling water to top off the sangria before serving.