Food & Drink

The secret to good sangria: Give it time to rest

There is no doubting the power of sangria. Pull a pitcher from the refrigerator as guests arrive and no one needs encouragement to start pouring glasses.

It feels fancy and instantly festive, but sangria is also one of the easiest big-batch cocktails you can make.

There are all sorts of fun recipes for sangria, but what most hosts need is a handy classic. This recipe is a short primer on how to make a perfect red-wine sangria for your next summer gathering.

The first question is what wine to use. The primary qualification is simple: It should be cheap. Any red wine you enjoy drinking is a good candidate, and it shouldn’t be expensive. In this recipe, we use an inexpensive Rioja from Spain, but you could also use malbec or merlot.

Most sangria recipes call for letting the wine rest overnight, or at least for a few hours in the refrigerator. This lets the fruit infuse the wine, getting its juices in the mix and sweetening the drink. The sweetness in sangria should come from the fruit itself, and perhaps the wine, not from a soda like 7-Up.

You won’t get this lovely, fruity sweetness unless the sangria has a period to rest in the refrigerator. If you taste the sangria just after mixing it, you’ll probably think it tastes harsh or unbalanced. After a night in the refrigerator, it will taste mellow and juicy. The beauty of sangria is that it gets better as it sits.

Emma Christensen is recipe editor at, a website for food and home cooking.