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Berries, Brandy, and Brown Sugar, Oh My! The Best Ways To Upgrade Red Sangria

Berries, Brandy, and Brown Sugar, Oh My! The Best Ways To Upgrade Red Sangria

Glass of sangria outside

We’re slowly easing into summer, and it’s time to start enjoying afternoons on the patio, soaking up the sun and sipping on a cocktail. Choosing which cocktail is the difficult part, but sangria is a popular choice for many. Perfect alongside traditional Spanish tapas or a charcuterie board, or simply with a nice book and your sunscreen, sangria is one of the most versatile cocktails out there.

What Wine To Use In Red Sangria

You know the saying, “don’t cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink”? Well, it’s the same for sangria. However, feel free to pick a bottle on the more affordable side as the flavors will be changed.

Generally speaking, choose a fruit-forward red wine that is low in tannins. To maintain sangria’s Spanish roots, try Garnacha, a medium to full-bodied wine with flavors of strawberry and plum, or go for Tempranillo. Outside of Spanish grape varieties, try Pinot Noir, Barbera or even Zinfandel, which all tend to have a light to medium body and ripe red fruit flavors. 

What Fruit To Use In Sangria

The fruit combinations to put in sangria are endless, from citrus fruits like orange and lemon to sweeter fruits like strawberry and pineapple. Each will add its own spin to the mix. Apples and pears are an excellent year-round go-to as well and hold up well in liquid.

A good way to pick the perfect fruit for your sangria is to look at your purchased wine. If the flavors offer up notes of blueberry, add some in and compliment it with other dark fruits like blackberries or boysenberries. But, if you’re just using whatever is in your fridge, that’s fine too. The important thing to note is that the sangria might be sitting in the jug for a while so don’t pick any fruit that will get too soggy. Watermelon is the perfect example. It would add excellent flavors, but it would also leave a trail of watermelon remains in each glass which can be a little off-putting. 

Add a Splash of Spirit to the Mix

You can’t really go wrong here with so many variations and methods available to spike a cocktail. The most common addition to sangria is brandy. Add up to a cup if you’re mixing an entire batch, or simply add a splash (½ ounce) to individual glasses. It all depends on how strong you like your cocktails. Not a fan of brandy, or don’t have any in your liquor cabinet? Feel free to use whatever you have on-hand and enjoy – rum, in particular, is a great choice. 

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Amp Up The Sweetness

We all like a little sweetness in the summer. Without going overboard, add a little brown sugar, cane sugar, or even some genuine maple syrup to give it a sweet push. 

Add A Little Fizz To The Sangria

Add soda or sparkling water to taste. This step isn’t necessarily for everyone but can certainly help lessen the effects of the alcohol or stretch the recipe a little further among a large group. It also makes the cocktail a little fizzy, making it all the more perfect for an afternoon in the sun.

Red Sangria Recipe

Ingredients

750ml Garnacha
2 oranges
1 handful of berries
1 half of an apple
¼ cup of Brandy (or to taste)
1 Tbsp brown sugar
Soda water to taste (add this right before serving if making ahead of time)

Method

  1. Pour the wine in a jug.
  2. Juice one orange and pour in with the wine.
  3. Cut up the remaining orange and half an apple and place in the jug along with the berries.
  4. Stir the jug and add the brandy, brown sugar and soda water to taste. If preparing in advance, hold the soda water until serving time.
  5. Serve and enjoy!
View Comments (2)
  • Wondering what your take is on covering the wine jug as it’s resting vs open top? Also, room temp vs frig? Thank you!

    • Hi! Great questions. I keep my jug open if I’m indoors as I feel it helps to bring the flavors out even further, kind of like a decanter! I like mine cold too, especially in summer. Although as I keep it out on the table it definitely starts to ease more into room temperature, but I think that’s okay.

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