how to make sangria
Food and Drink

A 7-step guide to making traditional, delicious sangria at home

Sangria is the perfect drink to serve when entertaining, and once you’ve grasped the recipe, it’s super simple to make too. Here, an expert shares her tips on making delicious sangria from home. 

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Sangria is a classic Spanish drink that is deliciously satisfying on a hot day and it’s the perfect refreshment to serve at parties (because who could ever turn their nose up at a jug of sangria?)

Although it’s made from fairly simple ingredients – wine, liquor and lemonade are the three main components – the fruity wine can be pretty tricky to get right when making it from home for the first time. The wrong combinations or amounts can knock the whole drink off, making the wine taste sour or the fruitiness overwhelming.

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To help you learn how to perfect the traditional drink, we’ve recruited the help of Ana Villegas, the owner of Abeja, a Spanish tapas restaurant based in Hatch in Manchester, and a native of the Spanish city Granada.

“All of my recipes are inspired by my family and my experience of growing up in Spain,” she says. Ana only uses wines imported from Granada in her restaurant, and has recently started creating ready-made bottles of sangria for her customers to enjoy at home.

Here, Ana shares the sangria recipe that she has spent many years perfecting, as well as her expert tips for getting it just right when making it from home.

What you will need to make sangria

  • 450ml red wine
  • 50ml liquor
  • 50g white sugar
  • Fruit (Ana suggests apple, peach, orange, lemon)
  • 500ml lemonade
  • 1 cinnamon stick
sangria tutorial
Ana makes homemade sangria in her Manchester tapas restaurant

How to make sangria

  1. Macerate the wine with the fruits and sugar.
  2. Mix the wine, liquor and sugar until dissolved. 
  3. Add the cinnamon stick, and the peach and apple in small cubes. 
  4. Leave in fridge overnight in a sealed jar.
  5. In a big jug, mix the wine with the lemonade.
  6. Serve with lots of ice and slices of lemon and orange.
  7. Mix in one freshly squeezed lemon with one teaspoon of sugar for enhanced flavour.

Ana’s expert tips for making your own sangria

Avoid sweet wine

As sangria is a sweet drink, you might think that a fruity wine would be the best thing to use to make it. But Ana says that the opposite is actually true. “Avoid sweet red wine because you’re already combining the sugar and the lemonade, which is what gives sangria its sweet taste,” she explains.

Anna suggests using merlot but she says that it doesn’t need to be an expensive bottle. “Traditionally, sangria is made with wine that is going off, which is why so many other flavours are added to the drink,” Ana says.

Choose your liquor based on personal taste

Ana says that there is no specific liquor that works best for Sangria – it really just comes down to personal preference. “I personally like vermouth so I tend to make sangria with that, but if you prefer rum or whiskey straight, you’ll probably prefer that in your sangria too,” Ana says.

You should also think about how alcoholic you want to be, as looking at the strength of your liquor is a good way to manage this.

sangria and tapas
Pair sangria with tapas for the full Spanish dining experience.

Experiment with white wine

Sangria is traditionally made with red wine but there’s nothing stopping you from using white wine when you make it. The recipe is exactly the same otherwise. The only thing Ana suggests changing is using slightly darker fruits.

“I don’t recommend using prosecco, however,” Ana adds, explaining that fizzy drinks don’t work as well with sangria, as the fizz of the drink should come from the lemonade.

Think carefully about the fruits you use

The type of fresh fruit you add to your sangria is totally down to your preference but Ana recommends avoiding fruits that have a mushy texture. “Bananas won’t work as they will dissolve which will affect the taste of your sangria,” she says.

Ana’s favourite fruits to use are apples and peaches. The cinnamon stick is also a really important part of the recipe and Ana says that it cannot be replaced with cinnamon powder.

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Use high quality lemonade

Although cheap wine is perfectly okay to use in sangria, using lemonade of a high quality is important. “You’ll be able to test the lemonade if it’s cheap,” Ana says, suggesting that if you can, making your own fresh lemonade is a great option.

She also stresses the importance of using a newly opened bottle of lemonade, so the fizz comes through in the sangria.

You can find more recipes and expert tips on The Curiosity Academy’s Instagram page.

  • Ana Villegas, founder of Abeja

    Ana Villegas
    Ana owns her own tapas restaurant in Manchester.

    Ana is the founder of Manchester’s smallest tapas bar, Abeja at Hatch. It has built its own large and loyal fanbase in the city. Ana is passionate about bringing her native Granadian cuisine to the city.

Images: Ana Villegas