Words and Recipes by
Summer Vibe
Photography by
Sangrias and Slushies

It is said that sangria’s history dates back 2,000 years. In the 18th century, they grew in popularity in places like Spain, Greece, and England, and by the mid-’60s in the United States. Today’s endless variations are probably a great departure from the original recipe, but it’s tough to go wrong with a drink that lends itself to so many fresh fruits and wine varieties.

When taking advantage of the endless combination options that summer’s bounty provides, keep a few things in mind to make a killer sangria. For starters, use fruit that will flavor the wine and spirits, not just look pretty. Fruits with skin such as whole grapes, whole blueberries, or cherries won’t impart flavor unless they are cut, crushed, or puréed. 

The time your fruit spends melding in the wine is important to consider also: Too much time, and the fruit will begin to soften; too little time, and your sangria may not develop as deep a flavor as you want. The benefit to using fresh fruit, rather than a sugary fruit juice, is in the fullness. Eight to 12 hours for melding is ideal. If you’re using just citrus, a bit longer is appropriate (stone fruits, apples, and berries break down much faster).

When choosing fruit, you’ll also want to consider the balance of colors and flavor. Do you have enough citrus to offset your sweeter ingredients? Are your berries and stone fruits complementing one another? Will you use red or white wine? A tip: red wines are bolder and can handle bolder fruit flavors and spirits, while whites are lighter and tend to absorb other flavors a bit more. 

Lastly, put your aging fruit to good use. Sangrias are a great excuse to use up fruit that might be too soft to enjoy on its own (you know, the kind that sits in the fridge a bit too long because you got excited at the farmers’ market and bought too much at once?). Apples that are too soft or grapes that have lost their “pop” are perfect for slicing and adding to a pitcher of sangria. 

Try these sangria recipes and add in the slushy for good measure on a hot day. Happy sips!

Tropical Sangria

This white sangria recipe combines tropical flavors with fresh basil and citrus for a very light, floral, and refreshing, not to mention beautiful, result. Never forget the curb appeal. Choose a white wine full of crisp, fruity citrus notes. This one calls for a Sauvignon Blanc, but a Moscato or a fragrant, dry Riesling would also be nice. The St-Germain here adds a lovely, sweet floral note.

Serves 6–8 

1 bottle Sauvignon Blanc 

¾ cup white rum 

¼ cup St-Germain liqueur

1 mango, cut into small chunks 

6 strawberries, sliced 

1 kiwi, sliced

Juice from 1 lemon

¼ cup basil simple syrup 

1 lemon sliced, for garnish

Basil sprigs, for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a pitcher and refrigerate for at least 3–4 hours, or up to 12. Serve over ice and garnish with a lemon slice and fresh basil.

Basil Simple Syrup

2 cups sugar

1½ cups cold water

2 tablespoons corn syrup

½ cup packed fresh basil leaves

Combine the sugar, water, and corn syrup in medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat for about 12 minutes, until all sugar is completely dissolved. Do not allow the syrup to come to a full rolling boil. 

While the sugar is cooking, finely chop the basil and place half in a mesh bag or loose tea steeper and place into the sugar mixture. Set the other half aside. 

When slightly cooled, remove cooked basil and add fresh basil to the syrup and chill in a storage container or squeeze bottle until ready to use.

Pink Sunrise Sangria

This white sangria turns a gorgeous shade of coral from the roasted black plums and blood orange juice, like those in a spectacular sunrise. Fragrant thyme and roasted blood orange rinds are added, resulting in a surprising combination of aromas and flavors. The Vinho Verde for this sangria adds the slightest bit of effervescence, which if you like, go ahead and top off your glass with a splash of seltzer or Prosecco. A pink bubbly would be perfect.

Serves 6–8

Orange rind (from the one juiced orange below)

2 black plums, halved and pitted

¼ cup hibiscus simple syrup 

2 thyme sprigs

1 bottle Vinho Verde 

1 cup brandy 

Juice from 1 blood orange

Juice from 1 lemon

1 blood orange, sliced, quartered

Preheat oven to 375°. 

Tear orange rind into about 6–8 pieces and roast until lightly browned and dried, about 20 minutes. At the same time, roast plums cut side down with ¼ cup hibiscus simple syrup and thyme sprigs until softened, about 15–20 minutes depending on the ripeness. 

Set the orange rinds and plum halves aside to cool completely (you’ll want to reserve the leftover juice from roasted plums for later). Once cooled, slice each plumb half into fourths and enjoy the floral-citrus scent from the hibiscus syrup.

Mix the wine, brandy, blood orange juice, lemon juice, and leftover plum juice. Add the orange rind, plum slices, and cooked thyme sprigs and refrigerate for a couple of hours or up to 8. Before serving, strain through fine mesh sieve. Serve over ice and garnish with a few blood orange slices.

Hibiscus Simple Syrup

2 cups sugar

1½ cups cold water

2 tablespoons white corn syrup

¼ cup dried hibiscus flowers (Skordo in Portland carries them)


Combine all ingredients in medium saucepan and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until all the sugar is completely dissolved. Once the sugar just comes to a boil, lower to simmer and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit for at least 30 minutes to meld flavors. When cool, strain and pour into a storage container or squeeze bottle and refrigerate until ready to use. This will keep up to 2 months in the refrigerator or 6 months in the freezer. 

Make Mine a Slushy

A frozen “slushy” is perfect on a hot summer day. This one combines a jammy Zinfandel with a berry trio and a fourth berry in the simple syrup, and just enough delicious cherry liqueur to stand out. It’s a bit lighter on the alcohol side because it’s blended with ice.

Serves 8–10

1 bottle of a full-bodied Zinfandel 

¾ cup brandy 

¾ cup Luxardo cherry liqueur 

¼ cup cranberry simple syrup

8 dashes cherry bitters

1 cup pitted cherries (or frozen, but thawed) 

1½ cups blueberries 

½ cup strawberries

5 cups of ice, divided

Mint sprig, for garnish

Add wine, brandy, cherry liqueur, cranberry simple syrup, cherry bitters, cherries, blueberries, and strawberries to blender and blend until smooth. Strain using a fine mesh strainer or sieve. This step is important. No one enjoys the mouth feel of seeds or skin, since they don’t fully break down. 

Add half of the strained mixture to the blender (to mix in two batches). Add 2½ cups of ice and mix until ice is blended. Pour into tall glasses and repeat with remaining mixture and ice. Garnish with mint and sip away. 

Cranberry Simple Syrup

¾ cup whole cranberries 

1½ cups sugar

1 cup cold water 

In a small saucepan, add the cranberries and smash with a muddler or the bottom of a heavy glass. Add the sugar and water and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until all the sugar is completely dissolved. When cool, strain through a fine mesh sieve and pour into a storage container or squeeze bottle; refrigerate until ready to use. This will keep up to 1 month in the refrigerator or 3 months in the freezer. 

Black Raspberry Citrus Fizz

This sangria is reminiscent of a sweet (but not too sweet) tart. The citrus balances the sweet Chambord quite nicely. And this version can be lightened up by the seltzer so it’s perfect for summer.

Makes 6–8 glasses 

1 bottle fruity Pinot Noir

1¼ cups Chambord 

½ cup Limoncello

1 pint blackberries 

1½ pints raspberries 

6 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

1 lemon, juiced

1 lemon, sliced 

Seltzer (optional)

Additional blackberries and raspberries for garnish

1 lemon, sliced, for garnish

Combine wine, Chambord, Limoncello, berries, bitters, lemon juice and lemon slices and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours or up to 8. Serve over ice. Top with seltzer if you choose, and garnish with fresh berries and lemon slices.

Dana Moos is the author of The Art of Breakfast: How to Bring B&B Entertaining Home, as well as a former innkeeper and has spent many years dazzling her guests with food and drink.


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