A cocktail that has taken a bad rap from every corner of the cocktail universe, and in most cases rightly so, is sangria.

This Mexican concoction has been the victim of some terrible preparations, sometimes to the point of non-drinkability. Yes, that’s a word, and I know that because spell check just let me get away with it.

The “death-knell” for sangria occurred first in restaurants hell-bent on getting rid of excess wines they were not able to sell by the glass. The knock-out blow came from absolutely terrible bottled, ready-to-drink products, which bore no resemblance to what this decidedly fresh mixture was supposed to be.

Sangria was developed many years ago as a way for heavy red wines from Spain and Portugal to enjoy some demand in the hot summer months. These tannin-bombs, not to be confused with the German Christmas Tannenbaum, did not lend themselves to summer gratification. So a combination of lesser quality wines were mixed together with fresh seasonal fruit, like oranges, a brandy, maybe a spritzer like tonic water or even Sprite®, chilled and then served with ice.

It became obvious to the rest of the world that the quality of the wine made no difference to a marketable outcome. The folks in the Iberian Peninsula never approached it that way. They made a fine product – ugly Americans botched the beverage.

When done right, sangria is a great hot weather drink, easily pre-made in quantity and serving is a snap. Keep several pitchers on hand for parties and let guests serve themselves. The drink can be quite good and fun. The added bonus now is that with football season upon us. You can make up a batch or two, settle back and watch the games. Plus, Mexican Independence Day is also landing at our doorstep September 16, a day commemorated in Mexico noting the 1810 call for rejection of Spanish rule. You did not think Cinco de Mayo was that country’s July 4, did you?  Well then, you do need a bit of a history lesson and some accompanying Sangria.    

We are also bringing you a bonus note today. I came across these wonderful glasses, perfect for serving sangria – among other drinks – which have a map of New Orleans on the glass. I think they are terrific and make the proper statement about our patriotism.

Several styles are available. www.theuncommongreen.com.

I am not in the habit of “pitching” merchandise, but these glasses seem so classy and right, I wanted you to know.


Sangria! Sangria!


Okay, break is over. Back to the topic at hand.


Here is a traditional red sangria recipe from a most credible source, Emeril Lagasse, whose Portuguese ancestry and talents speak volumes.

Red Sangria
Recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse, 2006, Food Network.


  • 2 bottles chilled dry red wine, like Rioja
  • 1 cup brandy
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup superfine granulated sugar
  • 2 oranges, cut into thin rounds
  • 2 Meyer lemons, cut into thin rounds
  • 3 Key limes, cut into thin rounds
  • 2 apples, cored and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 2 cups cold club soda

In a large pot or bowl, combine the wine, brandy, orange juice and sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the orange, lemon and lime slices, apples and refrigerate until well chilled – about 1 hour. Remove from the refrigerator and add the soda. Serve in glasses over ice.


Now let’s turn to another respected resource, Rachel Ray, for an easy and fun alternative sangria recipe.


White Sangria
Recipe courtesy of Rachael Ray, Food Network.


  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 shots Calvados or other apple liquor
  • 1 lime, sliced
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 2 ripe peaches, cut into wedges
  • 3 ripe green apples seeded and cut into wedges
  • 1 bottle white Rioja Spanish wine or other dry white wine
  • 1 pint raspberries
  • Sparkling soda water, for topping off glasses of sangria at table

Combine sugar, Calvados, lime, lemon, peaches and apples in a large pitcher. Cover with 1 bottle of Rioja wine and chill the sangria several hours. To serve, spoon fruits into glasses or goblets, adding a few fresh raspberries in each glass and then pour wine over top of the fruit. Top glasses of sangria off with a splash of soda water and serve.


Finally, where is it written (hint: not here) where sangria must be wine-based?


The Freshest Sangria

Courtesy Milagro Tequila


  • 4 parts Milagro Silver
  • 4 parts Fresh Lime Juice
  • 4 parts Grapefruit Juice
  • 8 parts Grenadine
  • 3 Serrano Peppers

In four shooter glasses, pour Milagro Silver neat. Cut Serrano peppers in half and remove veins, seeds and stem. Blend the halves with remaining ingredients and steep for two to three hours. Strain and pour into the four glasses.


I have no idea why you are still sitting there with three recipes for great sangrias staring you in the face. C’mon, vamos!!