The Best Sangria

Many people mistake sangria for an unruly collection of fruit awash in a sea of overly sweetened red wine. There's also the premade sangria sold in liquor stores, which is at once sugary, watery, and flavorless--a poor substitute for Hi-C. Start with cheap red wine, which actually makes a better sangria than the expensive stuff. (Experts told us that the sugar and fruit called for in sangria throw off the balance of any wine used, so why spend a lot on something that was carefully crafted?) America's Test Kitchen experimented with untold varieties of fruit to put in sangria and finally concluded that simpler is better. They preferred the straightforward tang of citrus in the form of oranges and lemons. And they discovered that the zest and pith as well as the fruit itself make an important contribution to flavor. Orange liqueur is standard in recipes for sangria, and after experimenting they found that here, as with the wine, cheaper was just fine, this time in the form of Triple Sec. Fortification with any other alcoholic beverage, from gin to port to brandy, simply gave the punch too much punch. What they wanted, and what they now had, was a light, refreshing, very drinkable drink.

The longer sangria sits before drinking, the more smooth and mellow it will taste. A full day is best, but if that’s impossible, give it an absolute minimum of two hours to sit. Use large, heavy, juicy oranges and lemons for the best flavor. Doubling or tripling the recipe is fine, but you’ll have to switch to a large punch bowl in place of the pitcher. An inexpensive Merlot is the best choice for this recipe.


  • 2 large juice oranges , washed; one orange sliced; remaining orange juiced

  • 1 large lemon , washed and sliced

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/4 cup Triple Sec

  • 1 bottle inexpensive, fruity, medium-bodied red wine (750 milliliters), chilled


1. Add sliced orange, lemon, and sugar to large pitcher; mash gently with wooden spoon until fruit releases some juice, but is not totally crushed, and sugar dissolves, about 1 minute. Stir in orange juice, Triple Sec, and wine; refrigerate for at least 2, and up to 8, hours

2. Before serving, add 6 to 8 ice cubes and stir briskly to distribute settled fruit and pulp; serve immediately.

Source: Cook's Illustrated (America's Test Kitchen - Season 6 Paella Party)