What is sangria and how to make it

Nov 1, 2022

If you’ve ever spotted a fruit-filled jug of inky red wine at an atmospheric tapas bar, or whilst basking in the sun in places like Spain or Portugal, it’s likely sangria has caught your eye. Curious? We’re here to undress the mystery surrounding this devilishly decadent drink, its history, and how to make it at home. 


What is sangria?

Put simply, sangria is a wine-based punch. This sublime favourite is a blend of red wine and chopped fruit – but the recipe can vary wildly depending on who you ask. Some sangria recipes even include spirits like brandy, vermouth, or fruity liqueurs to up the alcohol content and make it more potent. And the name? It comes from the Latin word sanguis, meaning blood, and refers to the rich, plummy colour of the red wine. It’s dark, and we love it. 


Where is sangria from?

We’d love to say there’s a clear cut answer to this, but the truth is there’s an ongoing debate – both the Spanish and the Portuguese often claim it as their own. Food historians mostly agree that Spaniards brought a form of sangria to the Americas in the 1800s, but where it started is still a mystery debated till this day. 

It’s likely, however, that sangria started with the Romans. As they journeyed across the rugged terrain of the Iberian Peninsula over 2000 years ago, they planted vineyards en route, and these vineyards are now ripe with decadent grapes that are ready for mischief. 

Water was unsafe for consumption back then, and the Romans fortified it with alcohol to kill the bacteria and added as much flavouring as possible to mask the taste. Grapes were used in this process, and it’s commonly believed that the first ‘sangrias’ were a blend of water, fruity wine, earthy herbs, and vibrant spices. Thankfully this mischievously indulgent tipple stood the test of time long after the invention of tap water. We’ll raise a glass to that. 


How to make sangria 

The first thing you need to do is gather your sangria ingredients. For red sangria, we recommend starting with a bottle of our bold and fruity Apothic Red. This wine really packs a punch on its own, hitting the palate with notes of deep dark fruit, and subtle hints of spice. It’s a blend of the best Californian Zinfandel, Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, which come together to make a bold, indulgent, and smooth red wine. 

Next up, prepare your fruit. We love sangria with sliced blood oranges, wedges of juicy plums, and jewel-like pomegranate seeds, but you can also use everything from peaches and nectarines to apples and berries. Once the fruit is ready, take your favourite pitcher and add some ice. We love breaking rules at Apothic, but sangria is best served chilled – so we’ll get in line just this once.

Then it’s time to add your spirit or liqueur of choice. A rich, spiced brandy works well here, which is why we use it in our Rebellious Red Sangria recipe – it’s an alluring blend of flavours that never fails to turn heads. 

Finally, pour in your mixer of choice. But go easy – you don’t want to dilute those decadent flavours. Lemonade adds a zesty kick to the sangria, or to give it a bit of fire, why not try ginger ale? The choice is yours when it comes to homemade sangria. If you’ve got time, cover your jug and let it chill in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving – it’ll really amplify the fruitiness.  


What’s the best wine for sangria?

Traditional sangria is made with red wine. In Spain, expect it to be made with a base of Garnacha, or Pinot Noir. The trick is to go for a red that’s fruity and low in tannins – like our Apothic Red – as they’re best in chilled drinks. High-tannin wines have a tendency to taste a bit chalky and bitter if you drink them straight from the fridge – enjoy those complex flavours at room temperature. 

Of course, things have moved on since sangria was first made. Nowadays, you’ll find bars offering sangria made with white wine, rosé wine, and even sparkling wine for a bit of fizz. It’s all down to personal preference – be bold trialing different recipes. But for a failsafe option, pop a bottle of Apothic Red on your shopping list. 


Feeling inspired? Start crafting your first homemade sangria and invite some friends over for an evening of indulgence. And for something to see you through the colder months, try our Apothic mulled wine recipe instead.