The origin of sangria is as confusing as the actual list of ingredients used to prepare it. The most accepted theory is that sangria originated in Spain during the first decade of the 19th century. As a wine producing country, you can clearly see why sangria emerged, as wine in those days was fairly strong, sweetening it down with fruits made it more drinkable. However, there is another theory that suggests that sangria originated in England based on a single citation noted in a 1736 issue of the British Gentleman’s Magazine “… a punch seller in the Strand had devised a new punch made of strong Madeira wine and called sangre.” Whether this is strictly true is unclear, but on the citation the wine is present and the word ‘sangre’ (meaning blood) describes the red colour of the drink. Another citation collaborates on this further, this time in a Spanish dictionary from 1788, which also describes sangria as a drink invented by the English and popular in English and French colonies in North America, particularly in the Antillean Islands. The dictionary states that the word sangria comes from the English word sangaree which in turn comes from the Spanish root word sangre. The oxford dictionary describes sangaree as ‘…a cold drink of wine mixed with water and spices’. Whatever the origin is, sangria is one of those drinks that also carries thousands of recipes and variations on how it should be made. There are bad sangrias and terrible sangrias out there. To me the two core ingredients are a bottle of good quality red wine and fresh ripe fruit, if you have got these two, you are half way there. The other important step that people forget when making sangria is to create the base flavour of the drink, which comes from the wine and fruit selected. The best way to do this is to marinate the selected fruits, wine and sugar the day before. This step is critical in order to make tasty sangria, as the sweetness in the fruit will flavour the wine and the wine will soak into the fruit.
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