two glasses of christmas sangria, a hand taking one from a wooden tray

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What do you drink on Christmas?

I love a good sangria. It’s the perfect party cocktail because you can make it ahead of time. Red wine is my favorite, but adding fruit and a little sweetness always makes for a crowd-pleasing drink. Especially when you don’t want to be mixing cocktails all night long. That makes anything in a pitcher the perfect choice.

What alcohol is in sangria?

I based this recipe off of my simple red sangria, but it’s really inspired by my love for vin chaud – hot mulled wine that is served in French Christmas markets and was a favorite of mine when we lived there. Since this holiday sangria is best served cold, I made a homemade cinnamon spiced simple syrup to spice things up. I also used a bit of brandy  because I think it goes best with those spicy flavors.

a pitcher of christmas sangria garnished with fruit, cinnamon stick and rosemary sprig
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What you’ll need to make this holiday sangria

glass of red christmas sangria garnished with a rosemary sprig and cinnamon stick sitting on a wooden serving tray, two glasses and a small plate of fruit in the background

How to make Christmas sangria

Make the simple syrup. I recommend making the spiced simple syrup for this holiday sangria in advance. Like, 24 hours or more in advance. Not only does this make your life easier the day you want to make the sangria, it also give the syrup a little more time to steep and develop more flavor. I normally make mine about 3 days ahead of time.

It’s just equal parts sugar and water (1 cup each), heated on the stove until it’s perfectly clear. Then you toss in some cinnamon sticks and whole cloves. Bonus points if you throw in a star anise while you’re making it. If it’s not an ingredient you have on hand, don’t worry about it.

close up of a glass of red christmas sangria garnished with a rosemary sprig and cinnamon stick sitting on a wooden serving tray

Prepare your pitcher. Chop all of your fruit and mix your sangria the morning you’re going to serve it. This way, the fruit gets to hang around in the wine and sweeten it. Any sooner, and you’ll likely end up with unappealing fruit. For my Christmas sangria, I like to use frozen cranberries. I usually have some leftover from Thanksgiving, so it’s perfect for Christmas.

Add some sparkles. Top it off with 2 cans (about 3 cups) of sparkling seltzer water. You can use club soda, but I just prefer the flavor of seltzer. Wait to do this until right before you’re going to serve your sangria, and only add it straight to the pitcher if you plan on drinking the whole thing. Otherwise fill your glasses 2/3 – 3/4 of the way full of sangria and top with seltzer instead.

overhead shot of glass of red christmas sangria garnished with a rosemary sprig and cinnamon stick sitting on a wooden serving tray, two glasses and a small plate of fruit in the background

More sangria recipes you’ll love:

More Christmas recipes:


Christmas Sangria

This easy Christmas sangria recipe is made with red wine, brandy and cinnamon simple syrup. It’s topped with sparkling seltzer water for the best holiday party pitcher cocktail. Garnish with rosemary for a festive look.

  • Author: Melissa Belanger
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x


  • 1 bottle red wine
  • 1/2 cup spiced simple syrup (see notes)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1 chopped apple
  • 1 sliced orange
  • 1 cup cranberries
  • 2 12-ounce cans sparkling seltzer water or club soda
  • Fresh rosemary


  1. In a large pitcher, combine wine, orange juice, simple syrup and brandy. Stir to combine.
  2. Add fruit and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  3. Add seltzer water to pitcher before serving (or top each glass indivdually) over ice. Garnish with fresh rosemary.


To make spiced simple syrup: combine sugar and water in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and transfer to a mason jar. Add 2 cinnamon sticks and 2 whole cloves. Refrigerate for for 24 hours to allow flavor to develop. Remove cinnamon and cloves before using.

Last Updated on November 28, 2021 by Melissa Belanger

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