Infused with warm seasonal spices and flavors, Holiday Sangria is the perfect pitcher cocktail recipe for all of your entertaining needs. The prep takes just 15 minutes and it can (and should) be made in advance – one last task to do on party day! Fruity, spiced and seriously sippable, it’s the ultimate Christmas sangria recipe.
Large batch cocktails are perfect for holiday entertaining, and they’re even better when you can make them a day in advance. We especially love sangria for serving a crowd. There’s nothing better than a pitcher of Peach Sangria at summer parties, and Thanksgiving isn’t complete without a batch of Apple Cider Sangria.
Stir up a batch of this warmly spiced Holiday Sangria for this year’s holiday party or Christmas dinner – it’s a total crowd-pleaser, packed with festive flavors, and couldn’t be easier to make.
More Seasonal Cocktails: we love a craft cocktail with a twist to suite our holiday tastes. Sorry, no green grinch drinks here! If you love craft cocktails with a festive flair, try our rosemary vodka gimlet, cranberry Moscow mule, whiskey punch, or pomegranate Prosecco punch.
Christmas Sangria Ingredients
Good sangria is more about the ingredients, less about the methodology. If you use sub-par ingredients, you’ll produce sub-par sangria, so be as choosy as your budget allows.
Choose fruit that is ripe and unblemished. Opt for a decent, but not extra special, bottle of wine and a small bottle of mid-range brandy.
✔️ Red Wine: select a dry, mid-priced red wine – the grenache varietal is traditional (and what we used) but merlot and pinot noir work well too. Avoid sweet blends unless you prefer a very sweet sangria, and avoid super-tannic wines, as they’re too bitter for sangria.
Pro-Tip: if words like “tannins” and varietals make your head spin, pop into your local wine store – the clerk can help you select just the right wine for your budget.
✔️ Brandy: brandy is a liqueur made from distilled wine or other fermented grape juice. Think of it as extra concentrated wine. Brandy gives sangria body and deepens the flavor, but you don’t need to reach for a premium brand since you’re not sipping it straight. We used The Christian Brothers VSOP – coming in around $12 for a 750ml bottle, it’s a bargain.
Pro-Tip: if there’s one place to splurge other than wine, it’s brandy. Try Grand Marnier, which is an intensely orange flavored cognac (a form of brandy). Most liquor stores sell small airplane bottles, so it’s a fairly economical upgrade.
✔️ Whole Spices: this sangria recipe requires whole spices – ground spices will make a gritty drink. If you live close enough to a Whole Foods, Mom’s Organic Market, or an Indian grocer, purchase fresh spices from the bulk bins – not only are they more economical in such small portions, but fresher spices will yield more flavor.
✔️ Fruit Juices: there’s no need to splurge on fresh fruit juices for sangria, but do choose juices that are unsweetened. Pulp or no pulp orange juice is a personal preference, but we prefer pulp-free orange juice in cocktails.
How to Make Christmas Sangria
Seasonally spiced red sangria is the cocktail of the holiday season. It’s fruity and punchy, but also just sophisticated enough – AKA it’s going to make everyone happy! Make a large batch and serve in a pitcher or punch bowl as the centerpiece of your holiday table.
- Prepare the fruit. Slice one orange into wedges, then halve; dice an apple into bite sized pieces. Place the oranges, apples, and a cup of whole cranberries into a pitcher.
- Add white sugar to the fruit and use a wooden spoon to gently crush the fruit with the sugar – this is called “muddling” and will help to release some of the juices and natural flavors in the fruits, which will deepen the flavor of the sangria.
- Pour in the liquids – brandy, orange juice, cranberry juice, and red wine.
- Then add the whole spices – star anise, cloves, cardamom pods, and cinnamon.
- Stir thoroughly, then transfer to the fridge to chill for at least 4 hours, and up to overnight.
- Pour over ice and enjoy! This recipe yields 6-8 servings and easily scales up for a crowd.
Recipe Notes and Tips
- Chill! It’s important to chill the sangria for at least 8 hours to allow the flavors to meld – overnight is best. The spices need some time to work their magic, and the longer they can mingle with the liquid, the more flavorful the sangria will be.
- Serving. Serve this Christmas sangria in a pitcher for a standard batch, or in a large punch bowl with a ladle for larger batches – it’s the simplest way to serve sangria for a crowd.
- Swap Fruits: there’s a lot of wiggle room on the fruits you can use, but use use a combination of at least 2 seasonal fruits. Try diced pears, pomegranate seeds, or kiwi (peeled and diced).
Did you make this Spiced Holiday Sangria? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
Holiday Sangria (Red Christmas Sangria)Print Recipe Rate this Recipe Pin Recipe
- Punch Bowl
- 1 orange, sliced into wedges
- 1 apple, diced to ½"
- 1 cup cranberries
- ¼ cup white sugar
- 1 bottle dry red wine, grenache, merlot, or pinot noir
- ¾ cup brandy
- ½ cup orange juice
- ½ cup cranberry juice
- 8 whole cardamom pods, lightly crushed
- 1 tsp whole cloves
- 2 whole star anise
- 2 whole cinnamon sticks
- Add the oranges, apples, and cranberries to a pitcher. Sprinkle the sugar over the fruit, then use a wooden spoon to stir it into the fruit. While you stir, very gently crush the fruit to release the natural sugars.
- Add the wine, brandy, orange juice, and cranberry juice to the pitcher; stir until the sugar completely dissolves.
- Arrange the cardamom pods on a cutting board, then cover with a tea towel. Using the bottom of a glass, gently press down on the pods until you hear them crack just a bit.
- Add the crushed cardamom pods, whole cloves, star anise and cinnamon sticks to the pitcher. Stir once more, then chill at least 8 hours, but preferably overnight.
- When you're ready to serve, pour the sangria over ice into a wine or cocktail glass. Be sure to use a spoon to transfer some fruit to each glass (it's delicious after soaking!). Serve right away, and enjoy!