The Absolute Must-Have Ingredients For A Great Batch Of Sangria

Whether you're sitting poolside, on a picnic blanket, or firing up the barbecue, nothing tastes better in the summer than a perfect batch of sangria. The wine-based sipper is equal parts refreshing and fruity and can liven up any outdoor party without overdoing it on the ABV. Getting the perfect balance of components, however, can be a bit of a challenge, so we asked drinks experts Adam Cass of Aba Miami and Carla Lorenzo of The Hampton Social what they think are must-have ingredients for a great batch of sangria. 

The verdict? Always reach for fresh fruits like oranges and berries, add sugar, fresh juice, or other sweeteners to taste depending on how dry the wine is, and give it all a kick with some orange liqueur. "Absolute must-have ingredients are fresh fruits, fresh juice, and some kind of sweetener," said Lorenzo, beverage director for the national chain of stylish eateries inspired by the vibe of Eastern Long Island towns. "There is no such thing as perfect ingredient ratios because it will all depend on what ingredients are being used."

It's okay to use inexpensive wine, but don't go too cheap

When you think about a glass of sangria, the first thing that comes to mind is probably all the fruit floating around. But before you start mixing and mashing, it's important to choose the right wine since that's the base of the cocktail itself. Adam Cass and Carla Lorenzo agree that it's okay to stick to lower-priced wines since you'll be adding extra ingredients. However, don't use any wine you wouldn't enjoy drinking on its own.

"Use tasty but not expensive wines, keeping it at a $10-ish range," said sommelier Adam Cass, who works with Aba's drinks program at the Mediterranean restaurant in the Bal Harbour village at the northern tip of Miami Beach. "Save the good stuff for a special dinner. Domestic Merlot, as well as Garnacha and Tempranillo from Spain, are great options for a red sangria."

"It's okay to use more inexpensive wines if you are using other quality ingredients like fresh fruits and juices," added Lorenzo. "It absolutely makes a difference in what you use because, for cocktails, your drink is only as good as your lowest quality ingredient." She recommends using dry white wines and rosés for refreshing batches of white and pink sangria.

Use fresh fruits, juices, and complementary spirits

Other than the wine itself, the most important ingredients in a batch of killer sangria are the fruits and juices, according to our experts. "Oranges, apples, and limes are a must in a red sangria," said Adam Cass. "Mixed berries are also a great complement in both red and white sangria." You can also experiment with whatever is in season at the moment, like making a peach sangria in July and August. Once you have the wine and fruit nailed down, Cass recommends fortifying your cocktail with orange liqueur. Try using a ratio of ¼ cup of liqueur for every bottle of wine.

Finally, make sure you keep things balanced with any sugar or sweetener, which depends on what type of wine you choose. "Dry white wines will require a little more sugar than a sweet Riesling," said Carla Lorenzo as an example, adding that one of the biggest mistakes is to add a lot of sugar in the beginning. "Start small and add more to taste. Too much sugar can ruin an entire batch." Of course, if you're really stumped on sangria making, you can always stop by your local Olive Garden and grab a kit to take home. But if you follow these guidelines from the experts, you should have no trouble mixing up a pitcher or two as a special summertime treat.