The History of Sangria

Sangria was conceived by the Romans around 200 B.C. The earliest version of the drink was punchbowls of red wine, spices and fruit.

Back then, water was unsafe to consume, and adding a touch of alcohol made it safe. This alcoholic beverage was called hippocras, and it is the ancestor of today’s sangria.

Illustration of pretty woman with sangria

The Romans

There’s a lot of confusion about Sangria, but it actually has a pretty simple history. It all started back in Roman times when wine was mixed with fruit, spices and herbs to make a drink that was both tasty and healthy. This was because water at that time was often unsafe to drink, so the mixture helped keep people hydrated and killed any bacteria.

The mixture was a hit, and over the centuries, it continued to evolve into what we know today as sangria. The most common variation of the punch includes wine, a non-alcoholic base and some type of sweetener or spirits (like brandy, cognac, triple sec, fruit schnapps or rum). Some recipes even call for chopped fruit and other flavorings like nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, star anise and mint.

While the exact ingredients vary, it’s generally accepted that sangria should not be too strong. That’s why so many restaurants and bars choose to serve a low-ABV wine, which is still more than enough to create the perfect balance of flavors.

This is a drink that’s been served in restaurants and filled the punch bowls of parties around the world for thousands of years. But it wasn’t until 1964 that the American public had their first taste of the drink at the Spanish pavilion of the New York World’s Fair, and they fell in love with it. Sangria has since become a staple in the summer, blessing restaurant menus and filling the punch bowls of backyard barbecues.

The Middle Ages

The Middle Ages saw the development of what would eventually become the modern Sangria. It was a drink that combines red wine with fruit and a sweetener such as sugar, orange juice or syrup, honey or another liquid like brandy. Sangria is an adult beverage that has many variations and recipes depending on where you live or where you are from.

The first sangrias were likely heavily watered-down mixes of wine, water, herbs and spices. Water was unsafe to drink back then, as it could contain dangerous bacteria, which is why people were more likely to fortify their beverages with alcohol. This was especially true during the Middle Ages, when drinking wines with added fruits and spices, known as hypocras, was popular in Europe.

Although it is often thought that sangria originated in Mexico, it actually came from Europe and was carried to the country during colonization. This is because the drink is a staple of Spain and Portugal, where it remains a popular summer drink. The Middle Ages also saw the development of mulled wine, which is similar to sangria. It is made with the addition of a variety of spices and infused with the alcohol of choice. While this is not what most of us think of when we imagine sangria, it is still a refreshing and delicious drink to enjoy. It is a great beverage to have at parties, barbecues, or other celebrations and holidays.

The Renaissance

Sangria was born as a way for the heavy red wines of Spain and Portugal to enjoy some demand in the summer. These tannin bombs did not lend themselves to summer gratification. As such, lesser quality wines were mixed with fruit, herbs, and maybe a splash of brandy and served. It was a drink that allowed people to enjoy their favorite wine in the company of friends. It was a popular beverage in bars, restaurants and chiringuitos during the hot summers of Spain. It was also a drink that could be made at home.

Sangre, as it was called, got its name from the Spanish word sangre, or blood, because of its dark color. The term may also refer to a type of punch that was fortified with alcohol, usually rum or sherry, and contained fruit and spices to mask the flavor of the wine it was composed of.

The exact origin of sangria is unclear, as people around the world doctored their wine for centuries. It became a popular drink throughout Europe in the Middle Ages because water was often unsafe to drink. A drink called hippocras, or Hippocrates punch, was particularly close to sangria at that time as it combined wine with cinnamon, ginger and other spices. It was reintroduced to the United States in the late 1940s through Hispanic Americans and Spanish restaurants and enjoyed an explosion of popularity during the 1964 World’s Fair.

The Moors

Sangria first appeared as a wine-based punch in the Middle Ages. Back then, water was not always safe to drink as it often contained harmful bacteria. However, alcohol was an easy way to kill those germs. So, people began experimenting with drinks that mixed wine with spices and fruits to make them taste better.

The Moors had a significant impact on the history of Sangria, especially in Spain. When the Moors conquered Spain in 711 A.D., the wine industry faltered along with it. But once they left in 1492, Spanish wine and sangria came roaring back to life.

Today, there are many different versions of Sangria. However, the basic recipe always includes chilled wine, citrus juice, sugar and fruit. Some recipes also call for the addition of brandy or other spirits.

When making your own Sangria, it’s important to let the liquid sit for several hours or even overnight before serving. This allows the flavors to meld and intensify. It’s also important to choose a quality wine when making the drink.

A good option is Tempranillo from Rioja, which pairs well with most types of fruits. You can find a variety of Spanish wines at Boqueria in Chicago’s Fulton Market district. The restaurant also serves Moor-inspired tapas, including white anchovy boquerones and vegetarian escalivada with fire-roasted eggplant and labne yogurt. These are just a few of the delicious dishes you can try while sipping on your refreshing sangria.

The Spanish Empire

Sangria is now enjoyed around the world, often in restaurants and bars, but it is also easy to make at home. This refreshing drink consists of red wine, sugar and fruits and can have anywhere from 4 to 12 percent alcohol. It’s a perfect refresher during the summer and is commonly served with grilled sardines or fried fish at chiringuitos (restaurants on the beach) in Spain.

The history of sangria dates back thousands of years, when Romans first conquered Spain and planted vineyards there. Water was unsafe to drink at this time because it could contain dangerous bacteria, so people started adding alcohol to their wine to kill the bacteria and add flavor. This is how alcoholic beverages such as beer and wine were invented. People also began experimenting with fruit and spices to enhance the flavor of these drinks. One of the earliest known drinks is Hippocras, which was made with wine, sugar and herbs. This was sometimes heated and resembled today’s mulled wine.

The Spanish took this recipe to their colonies, where it gained in popularity. During this time, they also discovered that different wines produced distinct flavors in their punches. As a result, the variety of sangria that we know today was born. Today, most versions of sangria are made with a combination of red wine from La Rioja and local brandy with fruits such as apples, lemons, oranges and grapes.

The United States

A refreshing drink that is enjoyed in Spain and Portugal, sangria is most often made with red wine and a variety of fruits. It can be served in bars, restaurants, and chiringuitos, and is popular at festivals throughout the country. It can be a delicious addition to any holiday party, and it is simple enough for anyone to make at home.

The United States’ impact on the history of Sangria is significant because it was first introduced here at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City. It was served at the Spanish Pavilion’s Taberna Madrid kiosk, and Americans fell in love with it.

Since then, sangria has become a beloved American beverage, and recipes are popping up all over the country. Some recipes call for brandy or sparkling water, while others use traditional wine like Rioja and fresh fruit. In some cases, the punch is even heated up like mulled wine.

While drinking sangria can be a fun way to enjoy a social gathering, it should not be consumed in excess. The combination of alcohol and fruit juice does have its drawbacks, and it is important to keep in mind that the drink contains about 16 grams of sugar per glass. For this reason, it is recommended that you pair sangria with a light meal to avoid any potential health issues. The good news is that there are many recipes for this alcoholic beverage that can be made low-sugar and healthier.

Did you Know?

  • The Romans visited Spain in 200 BC and started relishing Spanish red wines, which they later called Sangria.
  • Sangria helps slow the aging process in humans due to flavonoids and antioxidant contents.
  • Sangria wine has a richer alcoholic concentration than a typical wine – more than 11%.

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On this Day

200 BC: The earliest historical evidence of Sangria wine is traced in relics and books in Spain during Roman Empire.

1700s & 1800s: During these centuries, Sangria saw a mixing of various grape varieties, such as Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, etc., along with toppings of fresh fruits.

1964: In New York, a World Fair was organized this year, where Sangria was introduced to American consumers. Sooner, it developed into a beverage of choice for most Americans.

Want to read more? Try these books!

The Best Sangria Cookbook- 40 Drinks and Desserts Honoring Sangria Seasonal Sangria- 101 Delicious Recipes to Enjoy All Year Long! (Wine and Spirits Recipes, Cookbooks for Entertaining, Drinks and Beverages, Seasonal Books)...

Categories: This Day in Wine History | ArticlesTags: , , , , By Published On: November 2, 2022Last Updated: February 27, 2024

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