Sangria is a cocktail that has been gaining popularity for a number of years now. Though it is not a modern beverage, this refreshing wine-based libation is fun to enjoy on a warm summer day or a cool fall evening.
Like many other beverages, Sangria has its own day of celebration – National Sangria Day. Held on December 20th of each year, this day showcases the variety and versatility of sangria.
In this article, I will break down the origins of National Sangria Day, and the best way to celebrate as well as answer any questions you might have.
History of Sangria and National Sangria Day
Sangria is a wine-based cocktail. Typically it is a red wine mixed with fruit juice, fresh fruit, and occasionally herbs, spices, and other liquors. This mix of ingredients could easily be a modern invention. However, Sangria has a long and diverse history.
Sangria-type drinks are found in recorded history as far back as the early Romans and Greeks. These cultures would add sugar, spices, and other ingredients to their wine. Oftentimes this mixture was heated much like spiced cider or mulled wine. The drink was called “hippocras”. Hippocras is both the predecessor of sangria and mulled wine.
Sangria, as we know it today, started in Europe hundreds of years ago. The name “sangria” is derived from the Portuguese word “sangre”, or “blood”. Sangria was so-called because of the dark red color of the drink. As the name implies, Sangria is believed to have originated in Portugal or Spain.
Romans came to these countries and planted many miles of vineyards. Romans found that red wine grapes grew particularly well in the Spanish climate. The wine from this area has a distinct flavor and color profile, so when Romans were using it to make their wine punches, they called it “sangria”.
As Romans moved north, they brought their wine punch with them, and it starts to be enjoyed throughout Europe. In France, sangria is made with Bordeaux wine. This same wine in Britain is called a “claret”. The French and British versions of sangria would typically include wine, brandy, and fruit.
While sangria is typically made using red wine, there are versions that use white wine as well. These lighter sangrias are called “sangria blanco”. Many of these sangrias use stone fruits like peach and nectarine to sweeten the wine.
Today, sangria is one of the most popular wine cocktails around the world. The options for ingredients in sangria are almost limitless. Many people enjoy sangria over ice, or with a bit of club soda or seltzer water for a bit of fizz.
The great thing about sangria is that you don’t need to go to bartending school to make your own. This cocktail is easy to make at home and can use seasonal fruits and your favorite wine style.
National Sangria Day is a relatively new celebration that highlights this drink that can really be considered to be ancient. In the United States, many people enjoy National Sangria Day by making their own version, or heading to their favorite restaurant or bar and ordering the offering for the day.
Celebrating National Sangria Day in 2023
On December 20, 2023, you’ll find that many bars and restaurants will offer a unique version of sangria. Many wineries will also take this day to use their particular wines to make this tasty cocktail. You will want to keep your eyes open for your local National Sangria Day offerings.
Celebrating National Sangria Day in 2024
While December 20, 2024, is more than a year away, there is no reason not to start planning today for your next celebration. Perhaps in 2024, your celebration will take you to Spain, the birthplace of sangria. Or maybe you can try sangria at a local winery that you’ve never tried before.
What to Drink on National Sangria Day
Today, sangria is typically considered to be a warm-weather drink, so it seems odd that its day of celebration would be held in the winter. However, traditionally sangria was consumed year-round. So December with its endless holiday celebrations is a perfect time to highlight this ancient holiday drink.
If you are celebrating National Sangria Day there are plenty of recipes that you may want to try. Or you may want to enjoy a glass at a restaurant or bar. Regardless of how you choose to celebrate National Sangria Day, I offer my suggestions for what to drink in celebration.
Try a Flight of Sangria
If you are not sure what kind of sangria you like best, celebrate National Sangria Day with a flight of different sangrias. You’ll need to go to a bar or winery for this experience. However, it is the perfect way to try a variety of sangria options.
Make Sangria at Home
Maybe you know just what you like your sangria to taste like. The best way to celebrate National Sangria Day in this case is to make your own sangria at home. Sangria is really easy to make, and because it combines fresh fruit and red wine, this drink can give you the health benefits of both red wine and fruits when consumed in moderation.
I offer one of my favorite sangria recipes for your next National Sangria Day celebration.
Classic Red Sangria
- 1 – bottle of red wine
- ¼ cup – triple sec
- ¼ cup – brandy
- Juice from 3 limes
- 2 tablespoons – sugar
- 2 – oranges, sliced
- 2 – limes, sliced
- 2 – lemons, sliced
- 1 cup – cold seltzer (non-alcoholic)
- In a large pitcher, combine the sugar with the liquid ingredients (wine, brandy, triple sec, and lime juice). Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves.
- Add the fruit and allow the punch mixture to rest for a few hours or overnight, allowing the flavors of the liquid to mix with the fruit.
- Before serving, top the pitcher off with seltzer.
- Serve in wine glasses. Top with fresh fruit for a garnish.
Cinnamon Apple Sangria
Cinnamon apple sangria is a great option for winter celebrations. This sangria is a favorite winter cocktail served at the Atrio Bar in the Conrad Hotel in New York.
- ½ ounce – Cognac
- 4 ounces – red wine
- 1 ounce – apple cider
- 1 ounce – cranberry juice
- 1 ounce – pineapple juice
- Dash of cinnamon
- Lemon/lime soda (Sprite or 7-Up)
- Apple slices
- Cinnamon sticks
- Combine all the ingredients, except the lemon/lime soda, into a mixing glass.
- Top the ingredients with ice, and cover with a shaker.
- Shake well.
- Pour the ingredients through a strainer into a wine glass.
- Top with lemon/lime soda.
- Garnish the drink with a cinnamon stick and apple slices
National Sangria Day – FAQ’s
When is National Sangria Day?
In the midst of your Holiday celebrations, National Sangria Day gives you an opportunity to enjoy one of the oldest, and most popular wine cocktails in the world.
On December 20th enjoy a glass of wine punch with fruit and spices. This great cocktail and its celebratory day are a perfect addition to the holiday season.
What is Sangria?
Sangria is a wine-based cocktail that originated in Spain. The drink is a mix of wine, liquor, soda, and sweet fruits. Sangria can be made with both red and white wine. The white version is often called “sangria blanco” and is a lighter version, often enjoyed in the summer.
Sangria is a fun drink that combines fruit and wine with other liquors for a sweet and delicious cocktail. On National Sangria Day, you can head to your local bar and enjoy their version of the historic beverage.
Or on December 20th, try your hand at making your very own version of sangria. However you choose to celebrate, National Sangria Day is sure to be a great day!