A dark and delicious Cranberry Sangria that is such an elegant Halloween cocktail that it is perfect for fall brunching, tapas nights, and even Thanksgiving. It is a slightly sweet and slightly tart punch drink with red wine, orange liqueur, and fresh cranberries. Simple, elegant, and fabulous.
I love Halloween, and every year I try to make something fun and different. Most of the time I'm looking for Halloween recipes that are tasty enough for the rest of the year, elegant, and a little dark. For more inspiration, why don't you try these recipes:
- Poison Blackberry Martini
- Witches' Brew Plum Halloween Margarita
- Dracula's Black Forest Cake
- Jack O'Lantern Stuffed Peppers
For elegant and light-themed drinks, I would go for the Sugar Plum Fairy's plum and grapefruit drink - which is also inspired by Tchaikovsky!
What is sangria and what is it made of?
Sangria is an alcoholic beverage originating from Spain and Portugal. Those countries are also the only ones allowed to label their products as sangria. Sangria is a punch cocktail consisting usually of red wine, chopped fruits, and most often with other spirits as well.
Sangria literally means bloodletting in Spanish, which can be because of the dark red color of the drink. That does not mean that sangria has to be only red wine though.
Is sangria only made with red wine?
Traditionally, yes. And considering the name referring to blood, one could assume sangria is only made with red wine.
However, you can make sangria with any wine and fruit you like. I'll talk more about the specifics in the next paragraphs.
What wine to use in a sangria
Any kind of wine that you like, you can use. Don't go for the cheapest ones. However, I would stay clear of the most expensive wines as well as those that should be enjoyed on their own.
The best red wines for red sangria:
Originally, a real sangria is made from Tempranillo and Garnacha grapes. Choose a red wine that is fruity and low-tannin. High-tannin wines like cabernet sauvignon will taste astringent and bitter when it's chilled.
- Garnacha, Tempranillo or Rioja - top pick
- Pinot Noir - second pick
- Merlot - is high-tannin but made in a low-tannin style.
Read more about tannin in wine at Wine Folly.
The best white wines for white sangria:
Opt for dry, light, and unoaked wines. White wines are low-tannin and will usually work great in a sangria. Oak tends to give off a flavor of vanillin and hence the wine becomes heavy and may not work in a refreshing sangria.
- Pinot Grigio
- Sauvignon Blanc
- Chardonnay - can work if the white wine sangria is based on more heavy, warming tones. For a refreshing sangria, choose an unoaked chardonnay.
Also, rosé and sparkling wine are delicious in sangria. I use sparkling white wine in this grapefruit and green tea sangria. Use a Spanish Cava for a rosé sangria.
And maybe all the talk of white wine inspired you to make a cozy fall mulled white wine too?
What is the perfect ratio of ingredients?
Whatever you think tastes delicious, is the right ratio for sangria, in my opinion. However, as a starting point, I think this is a great ratio of ingredients:
- 1 bottle 750ml wine
- ¼ cup liquor
- 2-4 cups juice for a lighter and more refreshing drink
- 2 tablespoon sweetener, depends a little on the fruit choice and amount of juice!
- 2 cups chopped fruit
Traditionally, a sangria doesn't include a lot of fruit juices. I personally prefer a less alcoholic and more refreshing beverage.
Especially in this cranberry sangria, because the fresh cranberries themselves aren't so juicy. And if they aren't juicy, the sangria will not taste like them either!
Some may find this a weak sangria, and I'm fine with that! Add in more liquor and less juice - it all goes down to your personal preference. The bottom line of a sangria is that it should contain wine and fruit - whatever else you do, it would still be a sangria. Your sangria.
Black Swan Cranberry Sangria
Pour 1 bottle of red wine with 1 liter of cranberry juice into a large pitcher. Add 4 tablespoon of cointreau or any other orange liqueur. Wash the cranberries and add those to the pitcher. Give it a stir and let it chill.
For the sangria to get its rich taste, you should let it sit for at least 4 hours before serving, but preferably overnight. This way the flavors meld together. When you're ready to serve, add in ice cubes if desired.
You could make red wine ice cubes ahead of time. When you leave the sangria to rest overnight you'll also have time to make these. Just pour red wine in an ice cube tray and freeze.
This way your sangria will be cold but not watered down!
If you like a little fizz, top each glass with a splash or two of sparkling water. That makes the cranberry sangria extra refreshing.
I made this cranberry sangria to specifically go well with a dark Halloween theme, but that doesn't mean you can't drink this on any other occasion. Serve with orange wedges and cinnamon sticks for Thanksgiving, and without for Halloween. Enjoy!
Did you like the cranberry sangria? Here are more cocktails I think you'll love:
- Nordic Mulled Wine
- Classic Whiskey Sour
- Blood Orange Margarita
- The Penicillin
- Poison Blackberry Martini
- Ginger Pear Bellini
- Grapefruit and Green Tea White Sangria
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment below or tag me @thegingerwithspice on Instagram. And don’t forget to Pin it for later! To make sure you’re never missing another recipe, please feel free to subscribe to my newsletter. As a thanks you will receive a free e-cookbook Travels Through the Seasons, with many delicious recipes from around the world that suit different seasons of the year.
In order to keep the blog up and running this post may contain affiliate links, it will be at no extra cost to you, please read the disclosure for more information.
This recipe was originally published on Oct 27th 2017, but updated on Sep 13th 2020 for better photos and content.