The History of Sangria
From its humble roots in Spain, Sangria has grown to become a popular, refreshing party drink around the world. In the United States, Sangria was first tasted at the 1964 World's Fair in New York. The Spanish World area served this fruity wine punch to its visitors, and history was made!
Sangria is based on the traditional red wine punch popular across Europe for hundreds of years. The punch base would be claret. Claret is the British term for Bordeaux wine from Bordeaux, France. This red wine is traditionally made from a blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot. Brandy and fruit would be added to the red wine punch for flavor. In the 1700s and 1800s, Claret Cup Punch could be found at parties of all sizes. This would be the drink of choice for Jane Austen heroines, for example.
Going back even further in time, hippocras is a well documented drink concoction enjoyed in the middle ages. This was traditionally a wine with various spices added in - ginger, cinnamon, and so on.
Why the emphasis on wine? Remember that until modern times water was often unsafe to drink. People would bathe in it, wash their horses in it, and so on. Milk was considered a "baby food" only. That meant - even for toddlers - that the only safe liquid to drink had at least some alcohol in it. The alcohol would take care of any bacteria in the drink. Most households made some wine from fruits and berries in the area. It was very natural to "liven things up" by adding more spices, fruits, and other items to the wine to give it a different flavor.
Looking more specifically at Spain, this region was actively planted with vineyards by the Romans when they swept through about 200BC. A very active wine shipping trade promptly began, with the beautiful wines of Spain supplying much of Rome's drinking desires. Red grapes grew very well here and have been enjoyed ever since. The locals named their wine punches, in all their varieties, as Sangria.
Sangria is traditionally a red wine punch. Spanish people from all walks of life enjoy this drink, creating it primarily with Rioja and other Spanish reds. Sangria can also be made with white wine. With white wine the sangria is then known as 'Sangria Blanco' (white sangria) . The Cava (Spanish sparkling wine) producing area soon created a sparkling white version.
In the south of Spain Sangria is often called zurra. This version of sangria is created with peach or nectarine.
Sangria is typically created from red wine, fruit juices, soda water, fruit and sometimes brandy. When making your own Sangria, use a good quality wine, and if at all possible let it chill overnight. This lets the fruit flavors blend into the drink. If you can, use Rioja to get the authentic Spanish flavor, but definitely choose something you like - you're the one drinking it! In the morning, pour your sangria into a pitcher full of ice cubes, garnish with fresh fruit, and enjoy. Traditional sangria pitchers have a pinched lip so that the fruit and other solids do not plop into the glass and splash.
Every restaurant has its own sangria recipe - typically a mix of wine, brandy and fresh fruits, served over ice. It's one of the most individualistic drinks on the market. Don't just buy a mix at the store - have fun and create your own! Sangria's appeal is all about taking your favorite wine, your favorite fruits, and experimenting with them.
I just wanted to comment that parts the Wikipedia entry for Sangria are very suspiciously like my history page, even though I wrote my content many years before Wikipedia came to be :) I guess that's how the web works! :)
Sangria LinksSangria Recipes - Master Listing
Sangria Recipes by Wine Type
Sangria Recipes by Alcohol
Sangria by Fruit
Sangria by Berry
Best Sangria Recipe
Best Sangria Wine
How to make Sangria
History of Sangria
Cheese and Appetizer Sangria Pairings
Authentic Sangria Pitcher
Do you have a favorite sangria recipe not shown on my list? Do you have a suggestion about the instructions for any sangria recipe? Please Contact Me - I'd love to hear about it!
If you're a fan of sparkling wine cocktails, come enjoy our a huge library of Champagne Cocktail Recipes!
Note: I created these sangria recipes and have had them online for years. If you find similar sangria recipes elsewhere, it's because someone copied my idea. I do appreciate it when visitors write in to warn me about the plagiarism - but usually there's not much I can do about it! What's really funny is when they copy my design right down to my sangria pitcher. That's a bit much :)