When it comes to celebrations, sangria is a gift to hosts and guests. For guests, it’s the joy of freshness and flavor. For hosts, sangria’s greatest gift is ease.
Sangria takes the work out of Labor Day. Everything is done in advance. Make sangria the day before you plan to serve it. Cut, slice, and mix everything in a container you can cover and stow in the fridge. On the day of the party, transfer the sangria from its refrigerated containers to pitchers, fruit and all; dump in ice; and set pitchers and glasses on tables. Your liquid refreshment is balanced, iced, garnished, and good to go.
Sangria is self-service. Your guests can fill their own glasses, or your favorite ever-so-helpful friend or relative can be set to pouring duty.
Because it’s low-alcohol, people can sip it as an aperitif and enjoy it through all food you’re putting in front of them. With a cocktail, guests can get tipsy on a glass-and-a-half. Sangria is gentler on the system, which makes for a friendlier, healthier party.
Thanks to the fruits and herbs you put in your blend, sangria’s flavorful enough to stand up to dilution. The fussiest guest will sip to the bottom of the glass before going back for more. Like a hot afternoon in Seville, sangria is best appreciated at leisure. Those pitchers will last a while.
Beer goes flat. Cocktails require attention, glass by glass. Sangria’s as easygoing as a liquid refreshment gets. The garnish is in the pitcher. The fruits and flowers you put in the wine are all the adornment sangria needs, and each ingredient contributes complexity and freshness to the taste. Between grill time and dessert, your guests will keep themselves busy picking out slices of wine-soaked fruit. That will keep everyone occupied and contented, so you can work your course-to-course magic unhindered and unseen.
Sangria goes with everything. Far from the sugary substance served in all-you-can-drink restaurants, proper sangria is an adaptable, subtle showcase for wine and the season. In Spain, it comes in red, white, rosé, and sparkling. Serving fish? There’s a sangria for that. Burgers? Sangria has you covered. Shortbread with wild strawberries and mountains of delicate cream? A bubbly sangria will show that off. Who doesn’t delight in strawberries and champagne—even if the champagne’s prosecco?
It’s also budget-friendly. Because sangria is mixed with fruit and herbs, a decent-to-good wine will turn the trick; no need to invest in an excellent vintage for a blend. These wines are cheaper than hard liquor, and you’re going to cut them with fruit, juice, or sparkling water. At that price, you can set out a variety of sangrias, pleasing guests who like red, white, pink, fruity, savory, still, or bubbling to the brim.
To slow dilution, make ice larger than the average cube. Freeze water in a bow or deep pan. Wrap it in a towel and hit it with a hammer—a couple of quick raps, breaking the ice into chunks just big enough to fit into the pitcher. Use a large shaking tin or plastic drinking glass to freeze a tower of ice that slips neatly into pitchers: no breaking required.
Simple, adaptable, and affordable, sangria is will take the cost and labor out of your party’s day. Enjoy your grill and your guests, and let the drinks take care of themselves.
With cognac, Cointreau, mint-infused simple syrup, fresh mixed fruit, and Sauvignon Blanc, this sangria is delightful with salads (corn, mixed greens, fruit, whatever you’re dishing), halloumi, fish, prawns, and grilled toast sandwiches. Get the recipe.
Exponentially increase the season’s cherry power by roasting the fruit. This recipe boosts it even more, adding cherry liqueur to the base. A blend of red zinfandel and sparkling brut rosé makes this as rich as it is refreshing. Salads, meaty sandwiches, burgers, grilled lamb, grilled mushrooms…this sangria will support a full cast of menu items and be good company at the after-party, when you and your chosen few are winding down. Get the recipe.
This peach and Rainier cherry sangria gets savory notes from fresh thyme, purple basil, and sweet basil. Albariño grapes give this sangria’s wine a dry citrussy backbone that pairs well with fish and grilled vegetables, and holds its own alongside a spicy dish. Peaches and cherries soften the wine’s crisp mineral character. If Rainier cherries are out of season or your budget, then strawberries make a light and colorful substitute. Club soda makes this affordable and relatively low-cal; it also cuts the alcohol content per glass, so you can enjoy drinking more sangria. The herbs form a fine bridge to salads–especially ones with grilled and chilled fruits and vegetables–and garden-fresh seasonings. Get the recipe.
Pineapple juice makes this rosé sangria a perfect partner for pork, grilled fowl, and classic summer sweets like refrigerator cheesecake and vanilla ice cream. With raspberries, strawberries, and chopped pineapple, it’s also a treat for the eyes. Get the recipe.
Put a garden in the glass. Alanna Taylor-Tobin’s white nectarine prosecco sangria has heat from fresh ginger, mellowness from wildflower honey, sweet roundness from St. Germain, and bubbles from dry prosecco. Let Taylor-Tobin encourage you to trust your instincts, and choose yellow peaches, white peaches, or nectarines, picking the best of the market to celebrate Labor Day. Slice the peaches and nectarines into thin slices, setting fans of fresh stone fruit in every pitcher. Get the recipe.
Made with cava or prosecco, this edge-of-autumn sparkler has granny apples, dry white port, orange juice, lemonade, cinnamon, mint, and brown sugar. On the hottest, stickiest day, this sangria is a quaffable cool breeze. This is a blend-and-serve recipe, but you can give everything but the cava a chance to settle and blend overnight. Add the sparkling wine, stir, dump it all into the pitchers—dividing the fruit between them— and give your guests a chance to celebrate the season they’re leaving and the one that’s yet to come. Get the recipe.
Built to pair with beef, game, or hearty vegetarian burgers, this robust red sangria appears as rich as it tastes. Allow a night for the cherry brandy, dark honey, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries time to blend with Pinot Noir. If you want to lighten the depth and add bubbles, pour club soda into the batch, or set out soda and let guests adjust this ruby-hued sangria to their still or sparkling tastes. Get the recipe.
Find summer’s last hurrah in this white peach sangria. It gets a triple hit from fresh white peaches, crème de peche, peach nectar. Lemon juice and wheels balance sweetness with tartness. This sangria’s wine, Moscato d’Asti, brings its own notes of nectarine and peach, plus floral scents from linalool, a naturally occurring compound found in citrus, mint, lavender, and rose. Serve this lively sangria with vegetables, light dishes, or desserts. Get our White Peach Sangria recipe.
— Head photo: Chowhound’s Grilled Sangria.