Holiday Sangria – a dry red wine winter sangria that's not too sweet, filled with fruit and is designed to make you feel cozy.
While I love a good glass of wine, I had never taken the time to figure out how to make a good pitcher of sangria – until now!
Sangria is such a popular drink to make around the holidays and for gatherings, I wanted to make a festive winter sangria with red wine.
Let's start with the basics. What is sangria?
Just like most things, there are about a million different recipes for sangria on the internet. “Traditional” sangria is wine, sugar simple syrup, a hard liquor (like brandy or rum), fruit and spices.
You need to make it a little bit ahead – at least a few hours or overnight – so the fruits can soak up the alcohol and act as a natural sweetener to the wine.
The options are kind of endless with the types of wine, fruit and liquor you choose to use.
What kind of wine to use for sangria?
Since we're using red wine for this holiday sangria, the popular choices are Tempranillo and Garnacha. Both of these are Spanish wines with low tannins and fruity taste.
There are even bottles that mix the two – or if you're doubling the recipe, you can use a bottle of each! (That was recommended to me by the Trader Joe's wine guy!)
Merlot or Pinot Noir can be good choices as well. Best tip – choose a wine you know you like to drink on its own, and don't try to go too fancy your first time.
What alcohol to use for this winter sangria?
This recipe uses brandy, but if you prefer a different hard alcohol like vodka or rum, feel free to use that instead! Think of flavored alcohols too – an apple spiced rum would be delicious.
And you can always leave it out if you just want to stick with the wine.
What fruits to add to the red wine sangria?
Since this is a winter sangria, fruits like cranberries, apples, oranges, pear, grapefruit, pummelo, and pomegranate will all play nicely here. Get creative!
I added most of these fruits: orange slices (and squeezed half the orange in), a couple apples, pomegranate seeds, fresh cranberries and tried a few pieces of pummelo.
Plain cranberries are more of a decorative fruit in this sangria, but you can make sugared cranberries if you want to enjoy them more when you make it to the bottom of the glass!
Other options to add to sangria
I'm not really big on sweet wines – so I decided to forgo the simple syrup. If you do prefer to add sweetness, add a simple syrup or even maple syrup. Start with a couple tablespoon and work your way up from there as desired.
Juice. I used a sparkling pomegranate juice but other popular options are orange juice, or apple cider.
Want a little bubbly? If you use plain juice instead of sparkling, you can add club soda, or even champagne if you're feeling fancy! Add more as desired depending on your carbonation preferences.
Spices – cinnamon sticks and fresh rosemary sprigs are excellent choices, and I just stuck one of each straight in the pitcher!
Looking for another holiday cocktail? Try this cranberry pomegranate prosecco!
- 1 (750ml) bottle of dry red wine, like Tempranillo
- 1/2 cup brandy (or other liquor like spiced rum), optional
- 2 small green apples, chopped
- 3/4 cup fresh cranberries
- 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
- 1 orange
- 1 cinnamon stick
- rosemary sprigs, for garnish
- 1 1/2 cups sparkling juice or sparkling water (I used sparkling pomegranate juice)
- In a large punch bowl or pitcher, add the wine, brandy, chopped apples, cranberries and pomegranate seeds. Slice the orange in half, juicing half of it into the wine mixture and cutting the other half into slices. (Use the sliced oranges for garnishing the glasses, or just add them to the bowl too!) Add in the cinnamon stick.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Right before serving, add the sparkling juice, stir and add a sprig of rosemary for garnish. Serve and enjoy!
If you have time, muddle half the fruit with the brandy first and let sit for at least 15 minutes before combining with the rest of the ingredients. This will integrate the flavors together well!