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Holiday Sangria

July 13, 2022

Sparkling and festive, this brandy-spiked ruby-red holiday sangria recipe brims with yuletide cheer.


red sangria with cranberries, orange, cinnamon and rosemary

Holiday Sangria: Our Favorite Cup of Cheer!

So, you want to host a little holiday cocktail party. Visions of friends and family filling your home—decked out in their holiday best, gathered around your tree, swaying to some song about silver bells and peppermint sticks—dance in your head. Into your home they stream, mixing and mingling, glasses in hand, hearts all aglow, mistletoe dangling above their heads and tiny tots under foot. The thing is, you have this crazy wish—you’d like to spend the evening enjoying your party right along with your guests. You wouldn’t be busy mixing cocktails but also, somehow, you’d serve up a festive tipple—something fun, seasonal and a bit special. Enter our homemade holiday sangria recipe! Spiked with brandy, this red sangria recipe is a crowd-pleasing punch to build a party around, if there ever was one.

apples, oranges, cranberries and rosemary on the counter

How To Make Sangria

We think our sangria recipe is the very best sangria recipe because it’s so adaptable. Sangria is pretty inherently adaptable, actually. Sangria, which originated in Spain probably sometime in the Middle Ages, must be made with wine and fruit. Beyond that, it’s a flexible and forgiving party drink that you can really play around with! In that spirit, think of our holiday sangria recipe as a formula that you can easily adjust to suit your own tastes. You make red wine sangria simply by combining:

  • Wine. Red wine sangria is the most traditional, and we love how festive it looks. Selecting a wine for your homemade holiday sangria doesn’t have to be stressful, but there are a few things to keep in mind when making your selection. See below!
  • Fruit. Let’s talk sangria fruit! Citrus fruits, particularly oranges, are traditional and ideal for a holiday sangria, since citrus season peaks in winter. Plus, cheery lemon and orange slices look almost like Christmas ornaments, bobbing alongside a handful of cranberries in a big, generous pitcher or punchbowl at the center of your table.
  • Brandy. It’s the holidays—break out the booze! Warming as a mid-winter fire, with hints of sweetness and baking spice, brandy is a traditional sangria ingredient, and gives our holiday sangria recipe a little extra oomph.
  • Spices. Cinnamon is traditional, and a perfect compliment to whatever holiday goodies you might be serving alongside your homemade sangria.
  • Fruit juice. Our holiday sangria recipe gets an extra dose of merriment thanks to the addition of a bottle of sparkling apple juice. If you wanted to up the holiday ante, you could even use a sparkling cranberry-apple juice to make your holiday sangria an even deeper and more dazzling red.
  • Sugar. A pinch of sugar helps the citrus to really sing, and to harmonize with the flavors of wine and spice. Adjust to taste (or omit, if you prefer).
apples, oranges, cranberries and rosemary, sugar and cinnamon in a pitcher for red sangria
apples, oranges, cranberries and rosemary, sugar and cinnamon in a pitcher for red sangria

What is the Best Red Wine for Sangria?

Originating in Spain, sangria is traditionally made with tempranillo wine, but the best red wine for sangria is really just any red wine that you enjoy. A few things to keep in mind when buying wine for sangria:

  • Repeat after us: my holiday sangria is only as good as the wine I make it with. In other words, be sure to use a wine that you’d happily drink on its own.
  • Don’t expect the fruit and spices to mask a poor-quality wine. Instead, think of the fruit, spices, sugar and sparkling apple juice as enhancements, making an already-delicious wine even more festive and fun.
  • Ask for guidance! Just about anywhere you go to purchase wine will have someone on-hand to help you make a selection. Just explain that you’re looking for a wine to use in a sparkling sangria, and feel free to let them know your budget, too. They should be happy to help!
red wine being poured into a pitcher with fruit in it for red sangria
christmas sangria with rosemary, orange, apples and cinnamon

Three Reasons to Make Your Own Homemade Sangria

A little sweet, a little fizzy, bobbing with colorful fruit, and (best of all) meant to be made ahead, our homemade holiday sangria is the drink of the season. Here are just a few of the reasons we love it so—especially around the holidays:

  1. Sangria gets better with time, so it is a perfect holiday party make-ahead drink recipe. A day (or even two) in the fridge allows the flavors to mingle and cohere. Just wait to add the sparkling apple juice until right before you serve.
  2. Our holiday sangria recipe is super adaptable! If you’re not crazy about star anise, leave it out. Want it a little less sweet? Swap out sparkling water for the sparkling apple juice.
  3. It’s a holiday punch that doesn’t have to pack a punch! Since our holiday sangria is red wine-based, it’s lower alcohol than many other party punches. We like our party guests relaxed, not reeling.
Holiday Sangria 11
3 glasses filled with red sangria made with cranberries, apples, oranges and brandy with a cinnamon sugar rim.

More Festive Holiday Party Recipes To Try

3 glasses filled with red wine sangria made with cranberries, apples, oranges, cinnamon and brandy garnished with rosemary
3 glasses filled with red wine sangria made with cranberries, apples, oranges, cinnamon and brandy garnished with rosemary

Toast The Season!

Party prep has never been easier than stirring up a big batch of our bubbly, holly-hued holiday sangria. If you make it, we’d love to hear about it! Be sure to snap a photo, add it to your Instagram feed or stories, and tag us @themodernproper and #themodernproper if you do. Also, feel free to leave a comment on the post and tell your friends where you discovered the recipe.

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Holiday Sangria

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time:  10 min
  • Cook Time:  0 min
  • Calories: 277


  • 1 (750 ml) bottle red wine
  • 1 cup brandy
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups cranberries
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 1 apple, cubed
  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 star anise
  • 4 sprigs rosemary, plus more for garnish
  • 1 bottle sparkling apple cider, chilled
  • equal parts cinnamon and sugar, for rimming the glasses, optional
  • maple syrup or honey for rimming the glasses, optional


  1. In a large pitcher (or punch bowl) combine the red wine, brandy, sugar, cranberries, oranges, apples, cinnamon sticks, star anise and rosemary. Mix well, cover and place in the refrigerator overnight to allow flavors to come together.
  2. Just before serving add the sparkling apple cider, stir to combine. Serve over ice, in a glass rimmed** with a mix of cinnamon and sugar, garnished with fresh rosemary sprigs.

** If you'd like to serve this sangria in a glass rimmed with cinnamon spiked sugar, here's how.

Mix equal parts cinnamon and sugar together in a small and spread it out on evenly on a small plate. On a second small plate, pour out some maple syrup or honey. Dip the edge of your glass in the honey or syrup and then press the rim of your glad into the sugar mixture. Fill the glass with ice and carefully pour the sangria without hitting the side of the glass, garnish with rosemary and serve.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories277
  • Protein0 g
  • Carbohydrates35 g
  • Total Fat6 g
  • Dietary Fiber0 g
  • Cholesterol0 mg
  • sodium26 mg
  • Total Sugars23 g

Holiday Sangria

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Lindsay

    I'm going to make this for Thanksgiving! :) But I'm wondering if I can use something besides sparkling apple cider? My mother-in-law has an apple allergy!

    You could try sparkling grape or cranberry juice instead. Hope you enjoy!

  • Alexandria

    Hi! What can I use instead of star anise?

    Cloves would probably be ok.

  • Meghan

    Hi there! What size bottle of sparkling cider?

    The regular 25 oz size. Hope you enjoy Meghan!

  • Dimmig

    How many does this serve? How long will it keep?

    It serves 6 and it keeps for for a few days.

  • Susan

    We are going to try this for our festive gathering with friends. What red wine would you recommend? The glasses in the photo look perfect! Can you tell me where you bought them? Thank you!

    The very best wine for sangria is Garnacha (also called Grenache) if you can't find that, just stick with a Pinot Noir.

  • L

    I served this at my holiday party and my guests loved it. I doubled the recipe, and it served six people with refills! After being unable to find star anise and bottled sparkling apple cider at three local grocery chains, I settled on substituting Sparkling Carmel Apple for the cider. My guests loved this sangria and asked for the recipe. Besides being very yummy, this drink looked and tasted like a sparkling holiday! The syrup I used to rim the cinnamon/sugar on the glasses wanted to run down the outside of glass making our fingers sticky. I might consider a different syrup next time. Loved this drink and was proud to serve it since it was my first time making a fancy holiday drink!

    This is so great Lisa! So excited you tried your first fancy holiday drink and that you all enjoyed it! Thanks so much for telling us about the experience!