Traditional Spanish Sangria Recipe

Spanish sangria– one of Spain’s most popular yet misunderstood drinks! Tourists love it, locals barely drink it… here’s the scoop on traditional Spanish sangria and what I’d consider the best simple sangria recipe I’ve tried! Read to the end for some twists on Spanish sangria– I’m always trying new recipes!

History of Sangria in Spain
Delicious red and white sangrias!

In the time before food blogs and TripAdvisor, tourists came to Spain expecting little more than paella, sangria and flamenco, opting to eat microwaved paella over traditional tapas, and to watch choreographed flamenco instead of enjoying a Spanish style night out. While these types of tourists still exist, people are definitely savvying up and food and travel icons like Anthony Bourdain allow anyone to attack the local specialties.

But while the modern tourists bounce around looking for Spain’s best craft beers or tasting our popular gin tonics, what has become of the classic pitcher of sangria? Is sangria even Spanish? Is it just a tourist trap and a use for bad wine?

traditional Spanish Sangria recipe

Awhile back I wrote an article on Vaya Madrid called The Sangria Story. I write about how the traditional Spanish sangria recipe evolved, and how it is definitely Spanish in origin. However, I also give credit to the Americans (which would probably seem crazy to some), as after the 1964 New York World’s Fair American cocktail aficionados took the sangria they’d sampled at the Spanish pavilion and elevated it to the delightful combinations you’ll find in American cocktail bars today (green apple and sake sangria anyone?).

For me, sangria is simply the name for a wine based cocktail— although I’d let cider and sake slide in there too. But here in Madrid, you won’t find too much variety. The capital of Spain is often respectful to the classic Spanish recipes, and the traditional Spanish sangria recipe is no different.

Watch how to make traditional Spanish sangria (1 minute video!)

 

Traditional Spanish Sangria Recipe

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My Favorite Traditional Spanish Sangria Recipe
 
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This traditional Spanish sangria recipe is quick and easy to make, and delicious to drink on a hot summer day!
Author:
Recipe type: Drinks
Cuisine: Spanish
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1.5 bottles of young table wine (don't waste top quality wine on sangria but don't use something that's sure to give you a hangover either!)
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 tablespoons sugar (optional)
  • 1 green apple (optional)
  • 2 peaches or apricots (optional)
  • Carbonated beverage (lemon soda, orange soda, or soda water) (optional)
Instructions
  1. If using the sugar (which will make a sweeter sangria than if you omit), dissolve the sugar in two tablespoons of water over a low flame to create a clear simple syrup. Let cool.
  2. Wash the oranges and cut off thick pieces of rind before juicing the oranges.
  3. Juice the oranges.
  4. Wash the lemon and cut off pieces of rind before juicing the lemon.
  5. Juice the lemon.
  6. In a large pitcher or bowl, stir together the wine, simple syrup, orange juice and lemon juice and add in the chunks of lemon and orange rind. If making a truly traditional Spanish sangria, simply add the cinnamon stick and let sit at least two hours (preferably overnight) before serving over ice. This allows the sangria to take on the aromas of the fruit rind and cinnamon stick.
  7. If you want to make a slightly more modern version (still not anything too crazy!) add in chopped up chunks of green apple and peach. For the modern version you can also top off with a carbonated beverage (lemon soda, orange soda, or soda water) right before serving for some bubbles.

As you can see, the truly traditional Spanish sangria recipe is actually lacking any carbonation. That’s because carbonated drinks weren’t even invented when sangria got its start! From this classic recipe you can really experiment, using different fruits (I love grapes and mangos) and by fortifying the wine with brandy or vermouth. Some more modern sangria recipes have over 20 ingredients!

Like this recipe? Check out my other Spanish cocktail recipes!

Get yummy tapas recipes to pair with sangria:

What’s your favorite sangria recipe?

Best Traditional Spanish Sangria Recipe

 

Comments

  1. I had no idea sangría was so simple…and so Spanish as well, what with all the citrus and cinnamon! I like that you pointed out that *traditional* sangría doesn’t include fizzy/carbonated drinks, because they weren’t even invented until about 100 years ago.

  2. Hahaha, I always say you should choose a wine that’s not Don Simon or its ilk but also nothing above €3 either! You definitely don’t want a cheap-wine hangover.

    I do love sangria, though I tend to drink it in the U.S.!

  3. Hey there! I really liked your website as I´m living in south Spain since now two years.
    I came here thanks to http://www.onspanishline.com , because I was learning spanish and they convinced me to move here, thanks God! Sangría is one of my special dishes, where I live in Granada they make with so many arabian mixtures, it tastes awesome!
    Thanks for the blog!

    1. Hi Jenna, thanks for the comment! I mention in the post that you can fortify the drink with brandy or vermouth if you want. Many of the bars here in Madrid make it with vermouth, and but you can read in my article on Vaya Madrid (http://vayamadrid.com/sangria-history-and-symbol-of-spain/) the most traditional of all were essentially water, wine and fruits/spices. There really is no one national recipe, though definitely many people fortify with the great brandies from Jerez.

      1. Thank you for your lengthy response. Noted….
        I love researching on my own, and hearing about traditions from my family that’s here in Spain. But thank you!

  4. The above recipe is more of a modern version of Traditional Spanish Sangria, which does not generally squeeze any juices into the wine. The basic idea is that you should still see a clear wine color, or actually see through the wine if you decide to add water, or a “gaseosa.” Yes. My grandparents did occasionally add sugar to the mix, but not all the time. Keep in mind that sangria was a refreshing drink of choice on hot days; especially for farmers, peasants and hunters. Later on it became more of a festive component of family gatherings. It was not intended as an all year-round beverage. The key was simplicity of ingredients.

    The very basic traditional recipe is:
    1. Red wine
    2. Water, or soda (optional)
    3. Cut up lemons (without juicing)
    4. Cut up oranges (without juicing)
    5. No other fruit!

    The “juicing” is left up to the individual drinker! 🙂
    Now don’t get me started on traditional paella…

    1. Thanks for that Carlos! Definitely agree, although in recent years traditional has come to mean something else! Remember that originally it would have definitely been water, because soda is a more recent ingredient. I’ve also read that spices were likely in the original sangrias, and that oranges often weren’t.

  5. I have been making Sangria with Dark rum, my friends love it.
    Just enough to give a little flavor.
    I would like to hear if you have a recipe for Pulpo Gallego.

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    1. In New Mexico, USA, sangria is like a backyard bbq punch, haha. You make it at home, but probably won’t find people asking for it in a restaurant.
      We do red wine, orange and lemon slices (limes are an option too), orange juice, brandy, grand mariner or another orange liqueur (optional), simple syrup (optional), and a cinnamon stick. Very similar. But my favorite add-on that I never skip now are berries. You can use any kind, but big sweet cherries and raspberries are the best.

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