Pitcher of sangria

Make perfect sangria with these wines

Looking to cool down this summer with a tall glass of sangria? Sounds good, but what wine should you use? Here are ten choices from Napa Valley.

It's no wonder sangria, a Spanish drink mixing wine, fruit and syrup or juice, has been gratefully and wholly accepted all over the world. Sangria is delicious, refreshing and wonderful at parties or whenever a bottle of wine needs opening. It's hard to make bad sangria, but, with the right wine, it's not hard to make wonderful sangria, too. It's not surprising that Napa Valley produces excellent wines for making sangria, like these gems from California wine country.

What makes great sangria?

The best sangria starts with the freshest fruit and finishes with the perfect wine. A true wine snob might not agree, but for everyone else, sangria is the best way to serve wine. Sure, sometimes it's nice to enjoy a bold red or crisp white on its own, but for everyday drinking, summer parties and wine with friends, the sweet/fruity flavor of sangria is simply sublime.

Like any drink or dish, the better the ingredients you put into it, the better the dish will turn out. That means to make sangria, you should find the freshest fruit you can and pour in delicious, fruity wines. If you're not sure which wines to use, our friends in Napa Valley produce an excellent, affordable selection of lighter reds and sweet whites that go great in sangria. The following 10 wines, half red and half white, have been well reviewed and each produce superior sangria. Even better, if you want to buy them for yourself and don't live near Napa, all are available online for around $30 per bottle.

Whites

The white wines on this list were selected for their fruit notes. Wines which were too citrusy or acidic were not selected.

1

2012 Honig Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc

The Honig Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc is one of the more citrusy wines on the list, but it could not be left off because of its tropical and oak notes. This makes it an excellent wine to pair with tropical fruits in addition to the more traditional grapes, oranges and apples. The wine also has other fruit notes, including kiwi, which can make a great addition to your sangria. On the other hand, the wine has a slight mineral finish, so be sure to cover it by adding a little orange juice or syrup.

Use a fruity white wine in this blood orange frozen sangria >>

2

2010 Coquerel Family Wines Verdelho

This Coquerel Family Wines Verdelho was chosen for its light and crisp taste, which works well in any white sangria. However, its exotic fruit finish really gives it a leg up on other Napa Valley whites. Without strong fruit notes in the front, feel free to use any classic sangria combination, then sit back and enjoy this wine's unique finish.

3

2010 Coquerel Family Wines Le Petit Coquerel Sauvignon Blanc

Like the verdelho, the sauvignon blanc makes the list due to is crispness and exotic fruit finish. However, the thing that makes the sauvignon blanc a slightly better wine than its mate is this wine's fruity nose. The essence of grapefruit in its aroma will add another dimension to your sangria and opens the way for grapefruit's inclusion in the drink.

Whip up these boozy sangria sorbets for a frozen treat >>

4

2011 Pine & Brown Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc

The Pine & Brown Sauvignon Blanc is another white wine absolutely laden with fruit flavors, ranging from apricot to pear to a hint of citrus. The wine's fruitiness is evident from the first sip to the last taste, which is why it's perfect for sangria. Even better, the range of fruit notes in this wine means that it can be paired with traditional sangria recipes or just about any fruit combination that you enjoy.

5

2010 White Rock Vineyards Chardonnay

White Rock 2010 Chardonnay wasn't released until 2011 and by then, the extra fermentation produced an extremely complex wine with pear, tangerine, mild citrus, caramel and even little hints of oak. It's also the most expensive white on this list, but once you taste it, you'll agree that the price tag is well worth it. Given the complexity of the wine, it's better to stick will the classic fruit combination for sangria: Apple, pear and orange which all will blend with the wine's varying fruit notes without upsetting this chardonnay's balance.

Reds

Red wines were also selected for their fruit notes. Some of these wines were finished in oak, but wines with strong oak notes were not chosen.

6

2008 Ceja Vineyards Vino de Casa Red Blend

Don't let the name fool you (vino de casa translates roughly into "house wine"), this wine from Ceja Vineyards is a complex red wine with a lot of very prevalent fruit notes, including cherries and blueberries. The wine also has pleasant hints of chocolate, which due to their subtlety, work with sangria instead of overpowering it. Use this inexpensive wine with any red sangria recipe you like.

Try this traditional Spanish sangria recipe >>

7

2011 Thomas Henry Napa County Pinot Noir

Fruit dominates the flavors of the Thomas Henry Pinot Noir, which naturally makes it perfect for your sangria. Even better, because of the fruit forwardness of this wine, you can get adventurous with your sangria recipe, confident that this pinot noir will work it brilliantly.

8

2007 pureCru Napa Valley "Sangio Vetta" Sangiovese

The pureCru Sangiovese carries strong spicy notes all throughout its flavor, from the first sip to its fruit/spicy finish. This does mean that the pureCru has a stronger taste, but the spice notes in the wine are reminiscent of the spices used in making fine pies. Therefore, a good assortment of fruit will work in sangria made from the sangiovese, but using stronger flavored fruits rather than just apples and grapes would not be a bad idea.

9

2010 Clif Family Winery Climber Limited Release Red Blend

When you first sip the Clif Family Limited Release Red Blend, you open with cranberry and vanilla before the wine broadens into a side variety of different fruit flavors. However, it's really that vanilla in the beginning that makes this wine exceptional for sangria. Use a traditional sangria recipe and enjoy what this wine does with those flavors.

Sip on this berry peach red sangria >>

10

2010 Windsor Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon

The most expensive wine on the list, the Windsor Vineyards cab is not to be trifled with. It has a robust flavor that makes it stand on its own quite nicely, but the toffee, dark fruit, vanilla and even coffee flavors can work well in a sangria. When using this wine, you might be tempted to add a little extra sugar for sweetness, and that's okay because the flavors are so bold. But you really can feel comfortable using it in any sangria recipe.

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