Nov 07 2023

Meet the Ancient Cocktail that is Sangría

Sangria is the fun, sociable and shareable cocktail from Spain, but it is also one of the world’s oldest remedial drinks! Here’s the sangria story.

Sangría in modern times is the fun, social and shareable wine-based cocktail from Spain that we all know and love. But what do we know about its origin? You may be surprised to learn that this is in fact one of the world’s oldest remedial drinks. Here’s the sangría story!

Spain has had plenty of influencers, gastronomically speaking, and by that we mean historically the Phoenicians and later the Romans, who, over two thousand years ago, brought the vines and wine production - essentially farming - to the Spanish peninsula. This wine-making knowledge was combined with the local fruits, herbs and spices in Spain, to make a healthy fermented drink - better than drinking water in those times - that was consumed and appreciated by all.

Over time, sangría incorporated local spirits, such as brandy from southern Spain’s sherry making region, plus more ingredients - due to the growing trade routes - such as honey and sugar. By the 1960s specifically, the modern version of sangria was formed, and it was to experience a surge in popularity, thanks to the 1964 New York City World’s Fair.

Spain at the time was living in a bubble with Franco’s strict dictatorship regime, but the appearance of sangría as a cocktail on the NYC circuit cast it into the global spotlight, and it has been enjoyed ever since. Recipes have changed to include popular liquor supplements, such as sherry or even gin, as well as other herbs and flavors that enhance the cocktail while driving novelty and excitement. Social media is awash with homespun recipes and hacks - like a peach iced tea version or the French press sangría doing the rounds on TikTok.

Generally the composition of sangría today is wine - be it red, white or even cava - with a citrus-sweet base, plus fruit juice, chopped seasonal fruit, herbs and spices and a liquor of choice. But the key to sangría, as with any cocktail, is balance. Get it right, and you’ll create a distinctly moreish tipple to star at any get-together.