Forget the Sauce, Save Your Cranberries for Sangria | Wine Enthusiast
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Forget the Sauce, Save Your Cranberries for Sangria

5 minutes
10 - 12

Sangria, Spain’s beloved chilled wine cocktail, is for many synonymous with summer. But the party-ready punch is just as crowd-pleasing in the winter months, especially when given a seasonal twist. Case in point, this fall-centric recipe for cranberry-spiked, sparkling sangria.

Traditional sangria is generally made with red wines that are young and fruity. “For reds, that means plummy ones that carry touches of forest fruits, strawberries and raspberries, even hints of vanilla,” writes Jeff Koehler in his 2013 cookbook Spain. For a holiday spin, Lambrusco—the effervescent wine made with its namesake red grape from Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region—is a worthy choice.

Cutting an orange for sparkling sangria
Photography by Ali Redmond

For one, sparkling wine is quintessentially festive. (We don’t make the rules.) Also, Lambrusco has a relatively low abv of just 10 to 11% compared to the average wine’s 11 to 13%. That makes it a reasonable base for recipes like this one, which calls for additional spirits. Not least of all, it tends to have an accessible price point—a useful thing when you’re whipping up drinks for a crowd.

As for what style of Lambrusco to select? These wines can range from dry to sweet. We suggest sticking to dry varieties for this sangria, as the recipe’s other ingredients deliver plenty of sugar. They can also vary in levels of effervescence—go for slightly sparkling frizzante varieties if you want a hint of sparkle, and semi-sparkling or fully sparkling for full-force bubbles. (Keep in mind that these account for only part of the drink’s total bubbliness—the recipe also calls for club soda.)

If you plan to prep your sangria in advance, make sure the Lambrusco is appropriately chilled. Also, don’t add the bubbly elements until just before serving, to maintain the batch’s effervescence.

adding garnish to sparkling sangria
Photography by Ali Redmond

How to Make Sparkling Cranberry Sangria  

By Dana Beninati 
Serves 10 to 12 

Having spent some time living in Spain, I love to make big batches of sangria during the holiday season. Pro tip: While fresh cranberries work beautifully in sangria, frozen cranberries essentially serve as mini ice cubes, helping to keep the beverage cold while adding flavor. 

  • 1 12-ounce bag frozen cranberries
  • 2 navel oranges
  • 2 cups cranberry-apple juice
  • ½ cup orange or raspberry liqueur
  • 1 750-milliliter bottle of red Lambrusco
  • 1 liter club soda
  • 12 sprigs fresh rosemary, to garnish

Place the cranberries into a large pitcher. Wash the oranges well and thinly slice into bite-sized pieces and add to pitcher, along with cranberry-apple juice and liqueur. Top with the Lambrusco and club soda. Gently stir to combine. Serve over ice, garnished with a sprig of fresh rosemary.  

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