Holiday Sangria

Whether you’re looking for a boozy punch for a holiday party or a make ahead drink to serve with Christmas dinner, this Holiday Sangria recipe delivers.

This smooth and fruity red sangria with pomegranate juice and cranberries is perfect for all your holiday events.

Need a non-alcoholic holiday punch you can share with the kids? Try our Christmas Morning Punch.

Red Wine Holiday Sangria

Glasses of Christmas sangria with apples, oranges, limes, and a cinnamon stick.

I simply cannot resist a big batch pitcher sangria for a party. They’re fun and easy to make, they look great, and they’re just boozy enough to have everyone feeling loose without going overboard.

Our Fall Sangria and White Wine Sangria are already fan favorites, but I’ve been wanting to add a red sangria to the site for awhile, and wowee, this one is just perfect.

We took all the classics of a red sangria, but made it a bit more festive with the addition of fresh cranberries, orange-y Grand Marnier, and pomegranate juice.

The resulting holiday sangria is smooth and citrusy, with just the right amount of sweetness. Save this recipe for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, holidays parties, and even New Year’s Eve!

Holiday sangria with cranberries, lime, orange, and apples in a glass.

Here’s Why You’ll Love this Holiday Sangria Recipe

  • This sangria can be made ahead of time. This is my favorite thing about sangria! It’s actually best made 2 hours or more in advance, which makes last minute party preparations so much easier.
  • The recipe can easily be doubled to feed a crowd. This recipe will serve 6-8 people, but you can easily make a double batch to serve more people if needed.
  • It’s so dang festive looking! Listen, I’m always about taste over appearance, but I love when I can have both! This Christmas Sangria just LOOKS like the holidays in a pitcher.

Key Ingredients

Grand Marnier, Campo Viejo red wine, and pomegranate juice surrounded by apples, limes, cranberries, and orange.
  • Apple– A sweet tart apple like honeycrisp is perfect in sangria.
  • Orange– I used a standard orange, but blood oranges are especially lovely this time of year.
  • Cranberries– Something about orange and cranberry together just screams holidays, doesn’t it? You can use frozen or fresh cranberries in this recipe. 
  • Lime– A little tart citrus goes a long way, and I love the color the limes lend to this sangria!
  • Brown sugar– I have made sangria with simple syrup in the past, but I discovered it’s easier and just as tasty to make it with brown sugar.
  • Pomegranate juice– Sultry, dark pomegranate juice adds sweetness with just hint of tartness. Cranberry juice is a good substitute.
  • Grand Marnier– Grand Marnier is a blend of cognac and Triple Sec, with a smooth, velvety, orange flavor. You can substitute with half cognac and half Triple Sec or use just Triple Sec for a slightly more orange sangria.
  • Red Wine– We used Campo Viejo’s Rioja Garnacha for this recipe, a lovely medium dry red wine that will run you between $12-$15. Look for a fruit forward wine you wouldn’t mind drinking on its own. For more information about choosing wine for sangria, see our FAQs.

How to Make Holiday Sangria

Step 1: Place the apple, orange, lime, and cranberries in the bottom of a large pitcher.

Step 2: Sprinkle the brown sugar over the fruits, then use a wooden spoon or muddler to gently muddle the brown sugar together with the fruit, until the sugar has dissolved into it, 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Step 3: Pour in the pomegranate juice, Grand Marnier, and red wine. Stir well to combine. Chill at least 2 hours or overnight.

Step 4: Serve in pitchers with cinnamon sticks for garnish. You’ll need a long spoon to serve the fruit, or you can remove the fruit to a bowl and have guests add it to their glasses as desired.

Make Ahead and Storage Instructions

I recommend making sangria at least two hours in advance or up to 24 hours in advance. Sangria should be stored in the fridge until ready to serve.

Leftover sangria will last for several days, though we feel the flavor is best within the first two days.

Christmas sangria with apples, oranges, and limes in pretty glasses on a wood serving board.

Recipe FAQs

What wine makes the best sangria?

It’s important to choose a wine for sangria that you wouldn’t mind drinking on its own, but that doesn’t mean you need to buy the most expensive bottle on the shelf! In fact, sangria is the perfect opportunity to use a good but affordable wine that will be enhanced by the fruit and spirits.

For red sangrias, I recommend looking for a fruit-forward wine that’s dry to medium. I find cabernet too strong, but pinot noir can be a great choice. Because sangria is a Spanish drink, it’s always a safe bet to look for Spanish wines like rioja or garnacha.

I highly recommend Campo Viejo’s Rioja Garnacha or Trader Joe’s Albero Monastrell (a steal at just $6.99!)

If you’re standing in the wine aisle feeling overwhelmed (been there!), ask a staff person to help you find a good wine for red sangria. They’re usually very helpful. 

What other liquors are in sangria?

Sangrias can be made with all sorts of different liquors. Most traditional Spanish red sangrias use brandy or vermouth.

For our Fall Sangria, I like to use bourbon or whiskey. It would also be lovely with apple brandy.

White sangrias pair well with fruit liqueurs like Triple Sec, Grand Marnier, and Peach Schnapps.

Can I use honey or maple syrup instead of sugar in sangria?

Yes, you definitely can. The flavor will change some, but it should still be delicious. For a twist on Christmas sangria, you could also use the cinnamon syrup from our Apple Cider Cocktails.

What fruits are in sangria?

Sangrias can use almost any kind of fruit, from berries to citrus to stone fruit. For a winter holiday sangria, I recommend in-season fruits like apples, pears, oranges, and grapes. You can also add pomegranate arils to the mix.

Limes add a bit of tartness and a festive green color.

You can use cranberries or pomegranate arils in this recipe. I don’t love the texture of the tiny pomegranate seeds, so I prefer to use cranberries.

Can I make this Christmas holiday sangria bubbly?

Yes! After the sangria has chilled, add 1-2 cups cold Sprite, or club soda.

Note that lemon lime soda will add sweetness, so keep that in mind when choosing the bubbly.

Pomegranate sangria in a glass with a cinnamon stick and fresh fruits.

More Holiday Drink Recipes to Try

Christmas sangria with apples, oranges, and limes in pretty glasses on a wood serving board.

Holiday Sangria

Yield: 6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Additional Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes

This festive Holiday Sangria is made with pomegranate juice, Grand Marnier, and seasonal fruits, including apples, oranges, and cranberries. This smooth, boozy punch is perfect for Thanksgiving gatherings and Christmas parties.

Ingredients

  • 1 sweet tart apple, sliced thin
  • 1 orange, halved and sliced thin
  • 1 lime, halved and sliced thin
  • ½ cup cranberries
  • 3-4 Tablespoons brown sugar, to taste
  • 2 cups pomegranate juice
  • ½ cup Grand Marnier, plus more to taste
  • 1 750 ml bottle dry, fruity red wine
  • Cinnamon sticks, to serve

Instructions

  1. Place the apple, orange, lime, and cranberries in the bottom of a large pitcher.
  2. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the fruits, then use a wooden spoon or muddler to gently muddle the brown sugar together with the fruit, until the sugar has dissolved into it, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  3. Pour in the pomegranate juice, Grand Marnier, and red wine. Stir well to combine. Chill at least 2 hours or overnight.
  4. Serve in pitchers with cinnamon sticks for garnish. You’ll need a long spoon to serve the fruit, or you can remove the fruit to a bowl and have guests add it to their glasses as desired. The sangria will last, refrigerated, for several days.

Notes

  • We recommend Campo Viejo's Rioja Garnacha or Trader Joe's Monastrell for the wine.
  • Grand Marnier can be substituted with Triple Sec, Brandy or Cognac, or a blend of each.
  • Cranberry juice is a good substitute for the pomegranate juice.
  • Pears, plums, blood oranges, and pomegranate also work well in this sangria.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 282Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 8mgSodium: 39mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 2gSugar: 30gProtein: 1g

Please note nutritional information for my recipes is calculated by a third party service and provided as a courtesy to my readers. For the most accurate calculation, I always recommend running the numbers yourself with the specific products you use.

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