Holiday Sangria

Story by Miranda
Holiday Sangria
Tap any image to pin it.

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. 

Sigh. 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, your new holiday party BFF. A crowd-pleasing punch to build a party around, if there ever was one. 

A little sweet, a little fizzy, bobbing with colorful fruit, and (best of all) meant to be made in advance—our homemade holiday sangria is the drink of the season. 

Holiday Sangria

How Do You Make Sangria? 

We think our sangria recipe is the very best sangria recipe because it’s so adaptable. Think of this holiday sangria recipe as a formula that you can easily adjust to suit your own tastes. You make sangria 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: 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: 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 it’s oomph.  

Spices: cinnamon is traditional, and again 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 bit 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). 

What is the Best Red Wine for Sangria? 

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

  • 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 holiday sangria, and feel free to let them know your budget, too. They are usually happy to help!

Three Reasons to Make Your Own Homemade Sangria

  1. Sangria gets better with time, so it is a perfect holiday party make-ahead. A day (or even two) in the fridge allows the flavors to mingle and cohere. 
  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. 

Looking for more holiday party menu inspiration? Our crinkle cookies with peppermint cream are so stunning that they double as your holiday party centerpiece, and this cozy, comforting eggnog pull-apart bread is so decadent it just might earn you a spot on the naughty list.  

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 @themodernproperand #themodernproper if you do. Also, feel free to leave a comment on the post and tell your friends where you discovered the recipe.

Holiday Sangria

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 bottle sparkling apple cider
1 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

Method

In a large pitcher (or punch bowl) combine all ingredients. Stir to mix, cover and set in refrigerator overnight to allow flavors to come together. Serve over ice garnished with fresh rosemary sprigs.