What’s in Sangria Anyways?

We have all been there before.

You sit down at a restaurant on a hot summers day with your girlfriends and immediately snatch the wine list from the waiter. Your eye goes straight to the red wine sangria and you order it. Your girlfriend looks at you and asks, “What’s in sangria anyways?”

You reply, “Wine and fruit…?”.

Well it’s a little more than that. Sangria is one of those mysterious wine drinks you only come across in the summer and still every summer you have no idea what it’s actually made of.

As an avid sangria drinker, I’m here to unveil the hidden mysteries of the sangria and give you my best advice on how to make one.


Why so much confusion?

Sangria dates back all the way back to the Roman times, where even they didn’t know what it was. Back then water was thought to be contaminated so to “clean it” Romans would mix in red wine with the belief that the alcohol will act as a disinfectant. To make the concoction taste like something (after all it was very watery wine) they’d add spices and herbs. Viola, basic sangria.

There is so much confusion around sangria even a local from Spain doesn’t know how to exactly answer the question. If you ask they might associate sangria with overly priced fizzy wine drinks for tourists or a pre-made wine cooler beverage you can find at the local supermarket.

The summer wine drink hails from Spain and Portugal, where it is served at casual gatherings like family get togethers and weddings. Now you can find the beverage everywhere in Europe and the U.S. According to most major wine magazines, it’s one of the world’s most popular cocktails. There’s even a drink out there called the “Mangria” which is sangria served with added vodka.

Fun fact: Only bottled sangria from Spain or Portugal can be labeled “Sangria” under European law.

Modern Day Sangria is Actually Really Simple

Now there are many different ways to make sangria. You can make it red or white, fizzy or not fizzy, with different fruit, with the same fruit. The possibilities are practically endless. All you need to know are the four basic elements of any sangria:

  • Red or white wine – The base of any sangria (without it you don’t have sangria…)
  • Fruit – Added to give some sweetness to the cocktail.
  • Brandy – Only really used for added flavor.
  • Juice – Makes everything sweeter.

With these four basic ingredients you can’t really go wrong making your own sangria. Try using a wine matched for you by taking our quiz here.

What to Remember About Sangria

Next time your friend asks you “What’s in sangria?” Just remember these three facts you learned today:

1. Sangria is mainly made with four ingredients: wine, fruit, juice and brandy.
2. The Romans used it to “sanitize” water.
3. Only bottled sangria from Spain or Portugal is called Sangria…it’s the law.

Not every bar has good sangria, ask what they use for ingredients. If they use cheap wine it’s probably not that good.



Bright Cellars

Our staff is full of passionate wine lovers. With our amazing sommeliers at the helm, we’ve been schooled on all things wine. We came together to write this article, in hopes of spreading a little wine-ducation with you.

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