The History of Sangria

sangria fire and ice

Have you ever wanted to be like a Jane Austen heroine? If you’ve ever sipped on sangria, consider yourself one step closer. This delicious fruity cocktail is a historical icon and one that many summer and fall party-goers love to celebrate with. But what makes it so special and what exactly is its history? 

What is Sangria?

If you haven’t tried sangria before, you’re probably wondering “what is sangria?” To put it simply, it’s a wine-based cocktail that hails from Spain. Its color depends on the wine used. 

The interesting thing about sangria is that it comes in different regional variations. So, the ingredients used to make it can vary. Apart from wine, traditional sangria may have:

  • Fruit like sliced oranges, chopped apples, pears, peaches, pineapples, or nectarines
  • Fruit juice such as orange juice or apple juice
  • Flavored liqueurs, brandy, cognac, or fruit schnapps
  • Sparkling water
  • Sweetening agents like sugar, agave nectar, or syrup

The most suitable red wine for sangria is a dry, fruity one that has good acidity and is low in tannins. Some of the best wines for red sangria include Merlot, Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, Grenache (Garnacha), and Zinfandel. 

When it comes to white sangria, it is recommended to use a dry, crisp wine such as a Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Grigio, or a Chardonnay. 

At the end of the day, it’s all about using good wine to make delicious sangria. Steer clear of any wine you wouldn’t like on its own. 

How Much Alcohol Does Sangria Have?

The alcohol content in sangria depends on how it is made. A sangria spiked with apple brandy, for example, will have a higher alcohol content than a sangria made with only wine. 

Where Did Sangria Originate?

The history of Sangria is an interesting one. So, it’s natural to want to know where sangria originated.

Sangria Of Rome

Dating back to 200 B.C., the Romans enjoyed drinking red wines from Spain. They began naming the wines and wine-based punches sangria, but it wasn’t quite what it was today. More than a century later, sangria would become a popular drink in Europe, specifically when made with French Bordeaux as the boozy base. 

Upon being invaded by the Romans, Spain started planting grapes to make wine and then trade it. For years afterward, wine would be the preferred drink for people of all ages. Obviously, it’s an adult-only drink now.

In those times, water was quite contaminated and considered unsafe to drink. A dash of alcohol would kill the bacteria, so it was understandable for people under 21 to drink sangria in small amounts. 

As time passed, households located near the grapevines started adding other complementary fruits and spices to the wine to take their drinks to the next level. These new flavors were a hit among the natives and later made way for the traditional Spanish red wine punch called sangria. 

Modern Sangria

Later, brandy would be added to the wine to make the punch extra potent and flavorful. In the 1700s, everyone was drinking sangria--even the characters in Jane Austen novels. In fact, the 1700s and 1800s saw the British and the French experimenting with this concoction. 

Claret (the British term for the French Bordeaux) became the base for the new sangria. Other wines such as Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon were also widely used. Served with a mix of fruits, sangria gained immense popularity and could be found at every soiree across England and France. 

Sangria then made its way to the United States officially at the 1964 World's Fair in New York. At the event, the Spanish World area served a fruity, wine punch to those who stopped by. From there, it became the summer party drink of picnics across the United States.

Sangria has maintained its popularity over the centuries, which says a lot. What makes it the perfect summer drink is that it’s super easy to whip up. If you’re in the mood for a refreshing punch, all you need is your favorite fruit and choice of red wine – chilled overnight. The sweetness and acidity combine to create a flavorful drink that hits your taste buds like nothing ever has before. 

How to Make Your Own Sangria

Now that you’re familiar with the history of sangria, let’s find out how to make your own sangria. Whether you’re looking for your new Happy Hour cocktail or just want a refreshing drink on the weekends, you can’t go wrong with a fruity sangria.

If you want to make your own, check out this recipe by The Minimalist Baker.

To make this traditional sangria you’ll need:

  • 1/2 medium apple, chopped
  • 1/2 medium orange sliced with the rind on
  • 3-4 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup brandy
  • 750 ml bottle dry Spanish red wine
  • 1 cup ice

To make this drink, add your apples, oranges, and sugar to a large pitcher and muddle for 45 seconds. Then, you’ll add your orange juice and brandy into the mix and muddle again to combine.

Once combined, add your red wine and stir. Feel free to add or take away ingredients for taste preference.

Add ice to your pitcher to chill and serve. For extra show, garnish with fruit. This sangria can be refrigerated and enjoyed for up to 48 hours, but is best fresh.

Find Your Summer Favorite at Fire and Ice!

There’s nothing better than spending a night out on the town, taking advantage of the beautiful summer weather. Come to Fire and Ice this season to enjoy your own glass, or two, of our homemade sangria!