This spiced winter sangria features red wine mixed with fresh apples, oranges, and warm winter spices like cinnamon and cloves to help you celebrate any winter occasion.
What is winter sangria?
Winter sangria is a variation of the traditional sangria cocktail made with wine, fresh fruit, juices, and other aromatics. Winter sangria takes the base of the classic and adds fruits that are in season during the winter like citrus, apples, pears, and pomegranates.
We always love to have a festive drink to sip on during the holiday season and this makes an especially good Christmas sangria! Even after the holidays pass it's great for girls' night or football games. Red wine is always my variety of choice, so this easy recipe is hands down a favorite cocktail for the cold winter months.
These are the key ingredients in this winter cocktail. Jump down to the recipe card for exact measurements.
- Red wine: we love a dry Spanish wine for sangria! See the FAQs below or the ingredients notes in the recipe card for specific varieties we like, but a classic pinot noir, red zinfandel, or a red blend are good options
- Apple brandy: you can find this at any local grocery store, but if you have regular brandy on hand that works too!
- Grand Marnier: this adds more alcohol and orange flavor to the sangria, but any other orange liqueur, like a Triple Sec, is a good option.
- Agave syrup: I love to use this because it's a refined sugar-free sweetener. You can swap this for honey, or maple syrup, or make your own simple syrup to sweeten it.
- Fresh orange juice: you need 1 cup total, which was about 3 large oranges for us. It would also be delicious to add pomegranate juice.
- Winter fruit: We're using a mix of pears, apples, orange slices, and pomegranate seeds. You could add some other winter fruits, including cranberries, tangerines or blood oranges.
- Warm spices: whole cinnamon sticks, star anise, and whole cloves.
- Fresh rosemary: not only does this add a beautiful aroma, but it's also gorgeous to use as a garnish.
- Ginger Ale: top each glass with bubbly ginger ale or sparkling water before serving.
How to Make Winter Sangria
Here are the step-by-step photos to make winter sangria so you can see what it's supposed to look like! Jump down to the recipe card for the full recipe and to watch how to make it.
- Slice all of the fruit to get it ready for the sangria.
- Add the fruit to a large pitcher with the cinnamon sticks, cloves and star anise.
- Pour the fresh orange juice, Grand Marnier, apple brandy, and wine on top of the fruit and spices. Stir well to combine and chill it in the fridge for at least 1-2 hours, but no more than 24 hours.
- If you’re making a sugar rim, add all of the ingredients to a shallow plate and mix well. Rim each glass with an orange slice to wet the sides then dip it in the spice mixture. When you’re ready to serve, fill the rimmed glasses with ice and pour the sangria in 3/4 of the way full. Top with ginger ale or club soda and garnish with apple slices, orange slices, a cinnamon stick, and a sprig of rosemary.
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Winter Sangria: FAQs
Our favorite red wine for sangria is a semi-dry Spanish red wine. The best options are a Garnacha or Tempranillo because it's somewhat fruity and is low in tannins (bitterness). You can find this type of wine at any grocery store and it's usually in the $10 range. You could also use a cabernet sauvignon or merlot if that's what you prefer. Check out this great post for other red wine options.
Sangria can be served hot or cold! I prefer it chilled the majority of the time, but you can also serve it warm in mugs. Mix everything together in a crock pot and warm for an hour.
The best time range to soak fruit in sangria is between 2-24 hours. The closer to a day in advance the sangria chills in the fridge, the better it will be. I don't recommend going over 24 hours because the fruits can bread down too much and taste bitter.
You can't go wrong with any fruit in a sangria recipe, but my favorite is a mix of seasonal fruit to highlight ripe and fresh ingredients.
Summer: strawberries, peaches and other stone fruits are great.
Winter: apples and citrus fruit like oranges are delicious. That's why we're using those two in this winter sangria recipe!
If you make this recipe, I’d love for you to give it a star rating ★ below. You can also tag me on Instagram so I can see it!
More Sangria and Wine Recipes
For the sangria:
- 1 bottle semi-dry spanish red wine*
- 1/2 cup apple brandy
- 1/3 cup Grand Marnier or other orange liquor
- 2 tablespoons agave, maple syrup or simple syrup
- 1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (about 3 oranges)
- 1 apples cored and sliced
- 2 pears sliced
- 1 orange, sliced with the peel
- 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
- 6-7 cinnamon sticks
- 1-2 whole star anise
- 2 sprigs rosemary plus more to garnish
- 1 teaspoon whole cloves
- Ginger Ale, soda water or ginger beer to top
For a chai sugar rim:
- 1/3 cup coconut sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon EACH: cardamom, nutmeg, allspice and ground cloves
For a cinnamon sugar rim:
- 1/3 cup coconut sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- Wine Glasses or Mason Jar
- Large Pitcher or Punch Bowl
- Place all of the ingredients, except for the soda water or ginger ale, in a large pitcher and stir to combine.
- Store in the fridge for 1-2 hours. The longer it sits, the more flavor it will have, but don’t let it sit longer than 24 hours.
- If you’re making a sugar rim, add all of the ingredients to a shallow plate and mix well. Rim each glass with an orange to wet the sides then dip it in the spice mixture.
- When you’re ready to serve, fill the rimmed glasses with ice and pour the sangria in 3/4 of the way full. Top with ginger ale or soda water and garnish with soaked fruit, extra cinnamon sticks or rosemary.