Sangria for Cinco de Mayo

Sangria for Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo offers a perfect reason to gather friends together, throw a party and enjoy the robust flavors of Mexico. Often misunderstood as Mexican Independence Day, Cinco de Mayo commemorates Mexico’s victory over France at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Although, the date was immediately declared a holiday by the then Mexican president Benito Juarez, it wasn’t widely celebrated throughout the country as a major holiday--and still isn’t. Fast forward to the 1960s in the United States. The holiday began to gain traction when Mexican activists, looking for a way to honor their culture, chose Cinco de Mayo as a day of commemoration.

Today, Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a celebration of rich Mexican culture with revelers marking the day with music, food, tequila and beer. But what about  wine lovers? We have one word for you: Sangria.

The idea of spiced wine originated in Europe where drinking alcohol was safer than drinking water and people experimented with adding spices to the wine. The early version of sangria was then brought to South America by colonists from Spain and Portugal. The drink has evolved from a mulled-type of wine to a wine-based punch that’s a perfectly refreshing accompaniment to the spicy dishes and bold flavors of Mexican cuisine and ideal for serving at a fiesta.


Getting down to basics

Classic sangria is pretty simple. The basic ingredients include:

A medium-bodied wine--(think Riojas or Shiraz for red and Savignon Blanc for white.

Liqueur--typically brandy, but Cointreau works nicely;straight spirits also work.

Fruit juice--typically orange juice, but you can use peach juice or lemonade.

Soda (optional)


Orange, sliced

Lemon, sliced

Lime, sliced

Apple, cored and cut into chunks


Notice there’s not really a recipe?  That’s because sangria is such a forgiving punch, you don’t really need one. Keep the following ratios in mind and you can’t go wrong.

Wine=1 bottle

Liqueur=½ cup

Juice=½ cup

Simple syrup (to taste)

It’s important to mention at this time that you don’t have to use orange, lemon, lime and apple. Simply using orange and apple will work fine. The idea is that you don’t want to overwhelm the beverage with too much fruit.


So, let’s get this sangria started

The night before you’re ready to serve your sangria, cut your fruit and mix your liquids together. This will give the flavors enough time to marry for the best results. If you don’t have time to make it the night before, a few hours in advance will be okay. Once the sangria has had time to come together, it’s ready to taste. If you find the concoction needs sweetening, add the simple syrup. Make sure you add a little at a time until you have just enough sweetness for your palate.

Not all sangrias are bubbly, but it is a nice added element. You’ll want to include the optional club soda, orange or lemon-lime soda or even Prosecco. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s light and not too sweet.

Now it’s time to mix it up

We have the basics down. Now it’s to time think about trying different flavor combinations. For example, instead of a red sangria, try a white using Savignon Blanc, vodka, lemon-lime soda and then pair it with peach, lemon and strawberry.

Perhaps you’d like to try a Rose’ with tequila, lime and pineapple. You may want to take that flavor profile one step further by adding little habanero or cayenne to your simple syrup.

No matter what approach you take with your sangria, this wine-based punch will be great addition to your Cinco de Mayo celebration. Enjoy!


Learn more about Cinco de Mayo:

Learn more about the history of Sangria:

Isabella Crisman