The red wine concoction that packs a real punch.
The history of a famous drink
The history of Sangria is difficult to pinpoint exactly. It’s similar to various wine punches such as Claret Cup Punch that would have been enjoyed in parties in the 18th and 19th centuries in Britain and other countries also had their own variations.
The name sangria dates to the 1700s and is believed to come from the Spanish word sangre meaning blood, due to the deep red colour of the drink. From there we moved to the West Indies where a wine punch called Sangaree was popular.
The modern drink we know as Sangria, however, is a much more recent phenomenon. Believed to have risen in popularity through the early part of the 20th-century, it was the drink’s introduction at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York which cemented its position on the world stage as the best-loved wine punch we know today.
How to make sangria
There are almost as many sangria recipes as there are bars in Spain. The EU defines Sangria – which can only come from Spain or Portugal, as:
“a drink obtained from wine, aromatized with the addition of natural citrus-fruit extracts or essences, with or without the juice of such fruit and with the possible addition of spices, sweetened and with CO2 added, having an acquired alcoholic strength by volume of less than 12 % vol”
That’s just a fancy way of saying ‘wine with fruit and spices’, which is the basis of all Sangrias that you’ll meet around Spain. The wine will generally be a good rioja and the fruit can be anything – pineapple, melon, apple, pear, peach – and there will almost always be added orange juice, sugar and sometimes sweet spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg.
Often places will also add in a spirit such as brandy to make up for the lost alcohol from adding the orange juice. Finally, many will round it off with lemonade or soda water to give it a refreshing fizz.
In other words…take some wine and some orange juice and then do what you like with it!
In southern Spain, you might find Zurracapote (often shortened to Zurra), which is a very similar drink to Sangria. Rather than adding any orange juice, the red wine is mixed with whole fruits such as oranges, peaches and nectarines, sugar and cinnamon, and left to steep for several days.
A newer variation called Sangria Blanco is, as the name suggests, a white sangria. Made with a nice dry white wine, Sangria Blanco is usually less sweet but certainly no less enjoyable.
Finally, you might find Sangria made with Cava, which is a sparkling variant of the national drink that has a refreshing bubbly taste.
Finding good Sangria in Spain is about as difficult as finding good beer in England. It’s everywhere and whilst some recipes might not be to your tastes, it’s all good!
However you find your Sangria, you’ll be sure to enjoy it as no trip to Spain is really complete without a glass or two!
Feeling thirsty? We can’t say we blame you! Why not share your love for sangria on Pinterest, with this handy pin: