A 5-ingredient red sangria recipe without brandy. Learn how to make this easy, traditional Spanish wine cocktail at home!
You'll only need a bottle of wine, some fruit and a cinnamon stick to make this drink.
Red wine Sangria is one of the most popular Spanish drinks.
This alcoholic beverage was created in Spain over 2000 years ago out of necessity.
People were trying to find ways to make cheap wine more tasty, so they started mixing it with spices, fruit juice and fruit chunks. And according to wikipedia only Spain and Portugal can label their product as Sangria.
Another explanation for the birth of Sangria, according to the article the history of Sangria from spanishsabores.com, is that when the Romans inhabited the Iberian Peninsula water wasn’t always safe to drink, so it was common practice to fortify it by adding some alcohol to kill off the bacteria.
Sangria comes from the Spanish word “Sangre” which means blood, and as you probably guessed, it refers to the deep red color of the drink.
To make this delicious red wine cocktail, all you need is some fruit, a good wine and time (always let it chill in the fridge for at least a few hours!).
You don't have to buy an expensive wine like an aged Bordeaux to make Sangria. But you don't want to buy the cheapest stuff either.
What you need is a young, fruity red wine, one you definitely enjoy drinking. And it makes sense, because the wine is the basic ingredient of this cocktail.
If you choose one that you don't enjoy drinking on its own, then you won't like your Sangria either.
And if you're not a fan of red wine, check this white wine Sangria recipe. You'll love it!
The basic ingredients
- Red wine
- A cinnamon stick
Red wine: A young, fruity table wine is perfect. Try one you would definitely drink on its own, but one not too expensive. It should be of good quality and not overly oaky in flavor.
Oranges. Orange juice and orange slices are used in this recipe. Other citrus fruit can also be added, though I generally avoid lemon because I don't like the sour taste it provides.
Apples. Apples add extra sweetness and fruity flavor to this wine cocktail.
Cinnamon stick. Traditional sangria recipes limit the spices to a simple stick of cinnamon. It won't make your drink taste like cinnamon, it will just give it more complexity and depth of flavor.
Sweetener: I generally don't use sugar. Most of the times a couple tablespoons of maple syrup and the sweetness from the fruit is enough. Taste the Sangria to determine if it needs more.
There are two steps for making this recipe.
Step 1: Pour the wine to a large pitcher, and then add the rest of the ingredients and stir gently to combine. Taste and add more sweetener if needed.
Step 2: Cover the pitcher with plastic wrap and chill it in the refrigerator overnight or at least for 4-5 hours.
This step is just as important, because it gives the Sangria the time to absorb the flavors of the fresh fruit and the cinnamon.
What wine to use for Sangria
Any light, young and fruity wine is a great option every time you want to make Sangria.
You don't want a high tannin red wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot because when tannins are cold they can be harsh on the tongue (feel grainy) and taste bitter.
Some suitable wine types are:
- Grenache also known as Garnacha is a grape variety which gives spicy, berry-flavored and soft on the palate wine.
- Rioja wine. Rioja is a wine region and the spanish red wines from this area are mainly made with Tempranillo grapes.
- Pinot Noir. A great variety that gives light and fruity wines with low tannin levels.
- Beaujolais. Beaujolais is a wine region in France and wines of this type are mainly made with the Gamay grape variety.
I've also used a Greek Agiorgitiko and a South African Pinotage with very nice results.
For more low tannin reds read this article from vinvm.com
And if you love wine and want to learn more about a special category which is the dessert wines, this post about the Mediterranean sweet wines has all the things you need to know.
The best fruit for red sangria
There is no right or wrong as to what fresh fruit to use in Sangria. For this recipe, if you have a nice fruity wine, you don't need to add a lot of different fruit. Some sliced oranges and apples are all you'll need for a delicious drink. Less is more as they say.
Some more fruit ideas are:
- Strawberries, cherries, raspberries, blueberries and other berries
- Peaches and nectarines
- Lemon and lime (they're use in many recipes, but I personally don't prefer them with red wine. They're great for white sangria though)
Does Sangria need brandy?
Traditionaly no alcohol is used in Spanish Sangria except the wine. If you want your sangria to pack more of a punch, you can add a quarter of a cup brandy per bottle of wine (60ml brandy per 750ml wine).
Usually brandy is added to recipes that require a lot of orange juice and soda. This recipe requires the juice from 1 orange and no soda or ice, so the alcohol of the wine is enough to make a light and refreshing drink.
Wine: Instead of red wine you can use rose or white wine.
Spices: You can replace the cinnamon with 4-5 cloves or star anise
Sweetener: Instead of maple syrup you can use grape syrup, agave, honey or sugar.
Sangria will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days. After 3 days, the fruit will start to soften too much. Make sure the pitcher is tightly sealed with plastic wrap or transfer it to an airtight glass container.
The fruit, especially the apples, will darken in color because of the wine, but that's normal.
- Make it a day before. The best Sangria is the one who has been chilling in the fridge for 1 day. Making it ahead gives the wine the chance to absorb all the flavors from the fruit and the spice. It really makes a difference!
- Use a red wine you enjoy drinking. I can't stress this enough. If you don't like the wine on its own then you won't like it in the Sangria.
- Use a young, fruity wine, not high in tannins because tannins can taste bitter when cold.
- Serve the Sangria cold but don't add ice because it will water it down.
- Taste and adjust the amount of sweetener.
Love Spanish recipes? Make sure to try this Spanish omelette with potatoes (tortilla espanola) and these Spanish white beans with chorizo sausage.
Best Spanish red sangria recipe (without brandy)
- 1 bottle (750 ml) red wine
- 2 large oranges (one sliced and one juiced)
- 1 apple, cubed
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2-3 tablespoons maple syrup (or honey or grape syrup)
- Pour the wine into a large pitcher, add the juice from one orange, the fruit and the sweetener and stir well to combine. Taste and add more sweetener if you prefer.
- Cover the pitcher with plastic wrap and chill the Sangria in the fridge for at least 4 hours (it's best to leave it overnight).
The alcohol content will depend on the alcohol of teh wine used. Most red wines are 12-14% ABV.
So, if we take into account that sangria also has some orange juice added, we can estimate that the alcohol would be less that 12%.
This is something that complies with the European Union law which requires that the drinks labelled as sangria must be less than 12% alcohol.
As mentioned previously, you don't need to add anything instead of brandy. However, if you like your sangria with a bit of a kick you can use some of the following:
Triple sec, Grand Marnier, Cointreau, or another orange liqueur
Vermouth (also used in this simple recipe for the best Negroni).
No, you don't have to peel the fruit for Sangria, because the peel provides the essential oils for flavor and creates contrasting colors.
Because the peel is generally left on, make sure to choose organic fruit and wash them very well before adding them to the wine.