Festive Red Wine Sangria is a beautiful, make-ahead drink that is perfect for holiday entertaining. Dry red wine is combined with brandy, orange liqueur and fruit for a not-too-sweet cocktail that packs a punch!
When you’re having people over, it’s nice to do as much work ahead of time as possible. You don’t want to be in the kitchen or making drinks the whole time, you want to be having fun with your guests! Festive Red Wine Sangria is a great option for a make-ahead drink that will serve lots of people. This ruby red wine cocktail is also beautiful and fun. Plus there’s fresh fruit in sangria, that makes it healthy, right?
This traditional Spanish red wine punch was officially introduced to America at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York as part of the Spanish World exhibit. It’s popularity in America has grown ever since, especially as America’s own wine culture has continued to grow.
The great thing about sangria is that you can completely tailor it to your own tastes. In this recipe I’ve added additional liquors (brandy and triple sec), but you can leave them out and add fruit juice and club soda instead if you want a lighter drink. If you do follow my recipe, be forewarned though, adding the additional liquors means this festive red wine sangria also really packs a punch!
The ingredients are simple, red wine, brandy, orange liquor, fruit, fruit juice and a little sugar. Red wine is the base of this sangria, and while I really enjoy wine, I wasn’t sure which kind of wine would be best. Luckily, the people working in wine stores love to share their knowledge! It’s pretty amazing actually. For a sangria, I was told it’s best to pick a dry wine since you are going to be adding so many sweet flavors to it. Another happy fact I learned is that you shouldn’t waste your money on an expensive wine for sangria. It would be a waste of a great bottle when you’re changing it’s flavor with the other sangria ingredients. I mean, the expert was basically telling me to be cheap! Who was I to argue? For these reasons I chose (or rather, the Wine Guru chose) an inexpensive, but still delicious, dry Spanish table wine.
Brandy is traditionally added to sangria as well. I used a basic brandy, but you can also use apple brandy to add more flavor. Since I knew I was using oranges as one of my fruits, I also decided to add some triple sec, or orange liqueur. Speaking of the oranges, I found some cara cara oranges, and they were perfect. They are a winter orange, and are also seedless! The other fruits I picked for my winter sangria were apples and fresh cranberries. Make sure to get a crisp apple with a thinner skin, like Honeycrisp, Opal or Gala.
Finally there is a small amount of sugar added to the sangria. Not enough to make it overly sweet, but just enough to enhance the flavors. If you don’t want to add sugar, no worries, just leave it out.
Start your prep work by thinly slicing your oranges and apples. You’ll also take one orange and squeeze it for juice to add to the sangria. To make sure the sugar is completely dissolved in the drink, I like to add it in a measuring cup with the freshly squeezed orange juice, brandy and triple sec. Then whisk until you can see the sugar is dissolved. Pour this mixture over the fruit you’ve put in your jar or pitcher.
Next pour the wine in the jar, stir to combine and that’s it! Place the jar or pitcher in the refrigerator to chill until you’re ready to serve. I found this extra large Ball jar at Target and I really love it.
Festive red wine sangria is going to become your go-to party drink. Using a dry red wine is key to a not-too-sweet, complex wine cocktail everyone (of legal drinking age) will love! I did dice some apples for serving and put a few of those and a few fresh cranberries in each glass along with ice. A beautiful slice of orange is a nice garnish on the rim too.
- 1 bottle of dry red wine, I used an inexpensive Spanish table wine
- 1 cup brandy (or apple brandy)
- 1 cup triple sec (orange liqueur)
- 1 orange, juiced
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 orange, thinly sliced
- 1 apple, ½ thinly sliced, ½ diced to reserve as garnish
- ½ cup fresh cranberries
- Add the orange slices, apple slices and fresh cranberries to your jar or pitcher.
- Place the sugar, brandy, triple sec and orange juice into a large measuring cup. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, then pour in the jar on top of the fruit.
- Finally, add the bottle of red wine and stir to combine. Store in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours until cold. You can make the sangria a day or two in advance.
- Serve over ice (or not - your preference!), garnish with freshly diced apples a few fresh cranberries, and an orange slice on the rim for good measure. Enjoy!
Double the recipe if you're having a large gathering!