Saturday, August 18, 2018


Seize any excuse for a party! The mid-August fiesta of Asunción or the feria of Málaga are two good ones. In my case, it was the blooming of the plumeria on the patio that inspired me to invite some friends over for a swim and some festive drinks. It turned into a sangría extravaganza.

Four kinds of sangría! From the left, moscatel with oranges and melon; rosé wine with pineapple and mango; white wine with fresh herbs and lemon, and blue moscato sparkling wine with blueberries, cherries and nectarines.

Sangría is originally a fruity drink made with red wine, served icy-cold in a pitcher. Discovering a bottle of blue moscato sparkling wine at the supermarket motivated me to explore other colors and combinations of wine and fruit—blue, rosé, white and amber moscatel. (If what you want is a classic red wine sangría, see the links below.)

Besides wine and fruit, classic sangría has sugar or sugar syrup, brandy or liqueur to fortify it, and, almost always, something to dilute the mix and add bubbles—seltzer/soda water (agua con gas); lemon soda or fruit juice.

Lightly sweet drinks are refreshing on a summer’s afternoon, but sticky-sweet ones spoil the accompanying foods. I’ve chosen not to add any sugar. I used sweet and semi-sweet wines as well as sweet liqueurs. I chose artirficially sweetened soda (gaseosa) and lime cordial with no sugar.

Quantities depend on the size of your pitchers. Mine are under 6-cup capacity, meaning none holds a whole bottle of wine plus liqueur, mixer and fruit.

What fruits to put in sangría? Clockwise from the top: sliced oranges, fresh pineapple, blueberries, cherries, sliced lemon, melon balls, sliced nectarines and cut-up mango. Apples, pears and peaches.
Mix and match the fruits to suit yourself and use more or less than the quantities suggested. Some fruits will bob to the top of the pitcher; others sink to the bottom.
Floaters: lemons, nectarines, mango, apple.
Sinkers: cherries, pineapple, melon, grapes, pears

Blue sparkling wine inspired me to invent colorful changes on the sangría original.

If possible, chill the wine as well as mixers in advance. Add ice as needed, both to chill the drinks as well as to dilute them.

Very sophisticated flavors--white wine and gin with lemon verbena, lemon thyme and sliced lemon. Lemon soda adds bubbles and sweetness. Pictured with plumeria flowers.

Sangría with rosé wine, a touch of anisette and grenadine. Fresh pineapple and mango give it a tropical flavor.

Blue moscato sparkling wine and blueberries. Use a clear fruit liqueur. I messed this one up by using blackberry liqueur, which spoiled the blue color.

Amber-colored moscatel is naturally sweet, needs only fruit and seltzer.

My guests liked best the blue sangría, in spite of its less than crystalline color. My favorite was the pink one, rosé wine with a touch of anisette and grenadine, but the white wine with lemon verbena was a close second. Today the leftover amber moscatel has gone off to an afternoon beach party.

Why are drinks measured in fluid ounces when other recipes are given in their cup equivalents? FYI, 2 fluid ounces =¼ cup, 16 fl. ounces = 2 cups.

Rosé Sangría with Tropical Fruits
Sangría de Vino Rosado con Frutas Tropicales

Aguardiente is a Spanish anise-flavored liqueur. It gives a wonderful flavor to this pink sangría.

½ cup chopped fresh pineapple
½ cup chopped mango
2 fl. ounces aguardiente (anisette liqueur)
2 fl. ounces grenadine (pomegranate syrup)
16 fl. ounces chilled rosé
1 ½ cups seltzer

Place the fruits in a pitcher. Add the aguardiente and grenadine. Immediately before serving, pour in the chilled wine. Fill the pitcher with seltzer and ice.

Lemon Sangría with Botanicals
Sangría Blanca con Hierbas

I clipped some fresh lemon verbena and lemon thyme from my herb garden for this white wine sangría. But, you could experiment with other herbal flavors. Mint, rosemary, tarragon, bay laurel, hibiscus, elderflower and chamomile are possibles. Gin, distilled with several botanicals, seems the perfect fortifier.

Lemon soda provides the sweetener for this sangría. I use gaseosa, a “diet” soda with no sugar (best known brand in Spain is La Casera).

Sliced lemons will float to the top of the pitcher. For a prettier presentation, spear them on a skewer and stand it in the pitcher.

1 ½ cups boiling water
Sprigs of fresh lemon verbena
Sprig of lemon thyme
Strip of lemon zest
2 fl. ounces gin
1-2 lemons, sliced
20 fl. ounces chilled dry white wine
Lemon soda, such as gaseosa

Place 1 sprig of lemon verbena, thyme and lemon zest in a heat-proof bowl. Pour over boiling water.  Cover and let the herbs infuse for 5 minutes. Strain the infusion, discarding the herbs and zest. Cool the liquid.

Put the herbal infusion in a pitcher with the gin. Add sliced lemons. Pour in the wine. Fill the pitcher with lemon soda and ice, as needed. Garnish the pitcher with additional sprigs of lemon verbena.

Golden Muscatel Sangría with Oranges
Sangría Dorada con Naranja

Moscatel wines are famous in Spain, especially in the Málaga region. Typically, they are high-alcohol, sweet dessert wines, varying in color from gold to amber to deep mahogony.  Fruity, with a subtle citric taste on the palate and a slightly bitter finish, these wines definitely lend themselves to combining with fruit and diluting with fizzy water.

16 fl. ounces chilled moscatel wine
1 cup melon balls
2 fl. ounces brandy
4 fl. ounces orange juice
Sliced oranges
Seltzer, about 12 fl. ounces

Place the wine in a pitcher. Add the melon, brandy and juice. Skewer the orange slices and place in the pitcher. Add seltzer and ice to fill the pitcher.

Blue Sangría
Sangría Celeste

The color of a swimming pool—blue moscato sparkling wine seems made for a summer party. It’s low in alcohol (only 7 percent), so can stand some fortification with liqueur and doesn’t need to be diluted with a mixer. The semi-sweet wine needs no additional sweetener and blends beautfiully with fruit.

Use a clear (such as Cointreau) or blue (blue curaçao) fruit liqueur with the blue sparkling wine. I, unfortunately, muddied the waters by adding a blackberry liqueur. Lime cordial is a sweet, non-alcoholic lime juice. The one I used did not contain sugar (it had sugar substitutes).

½ cup blueberries
½ cup cherries
½ cup sliced nectarines
2 fl. ounces clear fruit liqueur, such as Cointreau
2 fl. ounces lime cordial
1 bottle blue moscato sparkling wine

Place the fruits in a pitcher. Add the liqueur and lime cordial. Add the contents of the bottle of wine and ice to fill the pitcher.

Plumeria flowers have a powerful perfume.

More ideas for sangría and summer cocktails:

More recipes with lemon verbena here.


  1. Perfect, just what was needed, Thank You !

  2. These all look amazing! I was just reading the July/August issue of Milk Street magazine and you got a mention in their sangria article, too.

    1. Anony: Thanks for flagging the Milk Street article. That white wine sangría from La Mancha, with cinnamon and celery, is a really good one. (Recipe is in my book, Cooking From the Heart of Spain.)

  3. Replies
    1. Sweet Basil: Thanks for your kind words. I'm always pleased to hear from readers and cooks out there.