Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Cranberry Apple Holiday Sangria

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Tom Thumb. All opinions are 100% mine.

Need an easy & festive cocktail for holiday celebrations like Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Year's Eve? Fix a pitcher of this cranberry & apple sangria in minutes, then let it infuse in the fridge for several hours (or overnight). It's packed with fruity red wine, fragrant apple cider, tart cranberry juice, fresh apples and cranberries, citrus & cinnamon + a bit of booze for a kick. This goes down easy, so plan to make extra! And remember, always drink responsibly.

Cranberry Apple Holiday Sangria (Easy & Festive Recipe)

Thanksgiving & Christmas are quickly approaching and I don't know about y'all, but I'm planning to dial-up my festiveness this year. An extra dose of feel-good vibes is much needed.

As usual, I'll be working on homemade food gifts and DIY gifts to send in the mail to my loved ones (since we live in different states).

In the meantime, I plan to make my home cozy & bright for the holiday season and continue the habit all winter long. My favorite way to create a cheerful & relaxing ambiance (whether at home or away) is with color, light & fragrance.

To start, I like to drape inexpensive string lights in a few places (like across the fireplace mantle, along curtain rods, and over the top & sides of bookshelves) to give the room a soft glow, switch on any lamps with yellow bulbs to add some warmth, and if I have them on hand, light a beeswax candle or two.

For fragrance, a simple solution is to fix some cozy food or drinks in your kitchen and wait for the scents to drift into other rooms. Something cozy like stovetop hot chocolate, rosemary spiced nutschocolate banana muffins straight from the oven, maple candied pecans, or a big pot of chicken noodle soup

If you're not in the mood for cooking, diffusing bright & calming essential oils is another good option (I love grapefruit & Idaho blue spruce together).

For color, I like to add fresh fruits, vegetables & herbs to my food & drinks and, if possible, buy extra to sit on my counters as a temporary display. Functional & beautiful - works for me!

Right now green & red apples, cranberries, and various citrus fruits are at the top of my list. Other good options are pears, pomegranates, persimmons, winter squashes, and figs. I can always add any leftovers to a fall charcuterie board to fill in gaps.

Today's red wine sangria recipe is my attempt to combine all three of those festive aspects (color, light & fragrance) into one tasty & cozy drink. It's a hybrid of two other white wine sangria recipes I have on the blog: fall & winter sangria and apple cider sangria.

The combo of fragrant cider + cinnamon, tart-sweet apples, cranberry juice + orange & lemon makes it feel very reminiscent of mulled wine, so if you're a fan...definitely make this chilled version. It's not exactly the same, but close enough. And super delicious!

Ingredients For Making Cranberry Apple Holiday Sangria

Ingredients For This Holiday Sangria

  • Honey: This adds some sweetness to the sangria to balance out the dry & tart flavors. Some folks use simple syrup instead, but I prefer honey since I always have a bottle on hand. If your wine & juices are pretty sweet already, you may want to omit this. If all your ingredients are dry, you can add more until it tastes sweet enough to you.
  • Orange & Lemon: These citrus juices brighten up the sangria and enhance all the apple flavors. If your sangria is on the dry side (less sweet), you can omit the lemon juice.
  • Apple: This adds sweet-tart flavors to the sangria + some extra visual appeal. I chose to do half a Honeycrisp apple & half a green apple (with the peels left on) so I could get a mix of colors. Use your favorite variety - lots of options.
  • Vodka or Brandy: I typically add plain brandy to my sangria recipes, but used a local Texas-made apple vodka this time. This adds an extra boozy kick without being too strong. You can leave it out if you prefer, but it's a fun thing to include when you have guests over.
  • Cinnamon Sticks: This adds a warm flavor + smell to the sangria, which gives it that cozy fall feel. The flavor will become stronger the longer it infuses in the wine + juice mixture. If you have any leftover sticks, save them for gingerbread simple syrup and Gingerbread White Russians.
  • Whole Cranberries: Because they're so tart, these cranberries are added just for looks. They're gorgeous & seasonal and won't break down in the sangria even if you keep the pitcher in the fridge for several days.
  • Unfiltered Apple Cider: Just like cinnamon, this adds a cozy fragrance & flavor to the sangria that is classic to fall & winter. Apple cider is a seasonal beverage that is unfiltered, unsweetened & non-alcoholic (I used one from O Organics® - pictured above). Typically you can find jugs of it near the produce section or in the refrigerated section with other fresh juices.
  • Unsweetened Cranberry Juice: This adds a tart & bright cranberry flavor + some antioxidants. Look for one that is 100% cranberry juice and unsweetened (I used one from Open Nature®). It will still have natural sugars in it, but no extra sugar is added. If you can only find a cranberry juice cocktail (usually mixed with grape & apple juices), omit the honey since that will be sweet enough when mixed with the cider.
  • Dry Red Wine: Look for a fruity variety that's dry or medium-dry. Don't just assume a specific type of wine will be fruity/dry/sweet, etc. First, check the label on the back to see how the flavor is described. Do they mention any sweet fruits (plum, cherry, raspberry, strawberry, etc.)? That's probably a safe bet. I used a bottle of Exponential Cabernet Sauvignon from my local Tom Thumb store, but tempranillo, pinot noir, malbec, or Sangiovese are also good options.
  • Sparkling Water or Dry, Sparkling White Wine: This adds some bubbly carbonation to the sangria, which makes it more fun to drink. It also helps to cut some of the sweetness from the apple cider, cranberry juice, honey & orange juice. I used a can of Signature SELECT™ Soleil caffeinated sparkling water, which has a light lime flavor with a boost of caffeine from green coffee beans. It worked perfectly as a dry & bubbly topper. I need to buy more because my beau drank them all!

How to Make a Red Wine Holiday Sangria with Cranberry & Apple

How To Make Cranberry Apple Sangria

  1. TASTE: First, take a small taste of your wine, apple cider & cranberry juice. Are they super sweet? Dry and/or tart? Somewhere in the middle? Use that as a gauge for how much honey to add. Remember, it's easier to stir in extra honey later on rather than try and dilute the whole pitcher of sangria if it's too sweet for your taste.
  2. COMBINE: Stir the honey with a few splashes of wine to dissolve it, squeeze in the orange and lemon juices (leave the orange peel in the pitcher but discard the lemon), add the chopped apple & whole cranberries + cinnamon sticks, then pour in the juices (apple cider & cranberry), and finish with the red wine.
  3. INFUSE: Cover the container with cling wrap or a towel and place it in the refrigerator to infuse for several hours. At least four hours is best (overnight is even better for a stronger flavor), but you can get away with 1-2 if you're making this last-minute. You may need to add extra juices or honey to sweeten it in this case. TIP: This is a good drink to make a day in advance so you have one less thing to worry about when you have guests over.
  4. TOP, GARNISH & SERVE: When you're ready to serve, place a fresh orange slice in the bottom of each glass, then spoon some of the infused apple chunks & cranberries on top. Pour the chilled sangria over the fruit until the glass is 2/3 full. Top with chilled sparkling water or a dry bubbly white wine (like Prosecco, Champagne, or Vinho Verde) and garnish the glasses with an extra cinnamon stick & a sprig of rosemary for color. You can add ice if desired, but I usually leave it out.

Easy & Festive Holiday Sangria Recipe

Can This Be Made With White Wine Instead?

Yes! If you don't like red wine, use a white or blush wine like rosé instead. For this particular sangria, I'd choose a medium-dry white with some fruity notes. My favorites for that are riesling, sauvignon blanc (from the Marlborough region), and chardonnay (unoaked). Always check the label to see how dry or sweet it is + any flavor notes it has rather than just grabbing one off the shelf.

What Are The Best Apples To Use for a Holiday Sangria?

Anything but Red Delicious? Kidding! (sort of) It's probably my least favorite apple variety. Honey crisp is my go-to for sangrias because it's firm, juicy, and has a sweet-tart flavor, but it's more expensive so you may want to grab whatever's on sale. I love using Granny Smith apples for the tart flavor and bright green color, which contrasts beautifully with the red wine. Fuji, Gala, Pink Lady, and Braeburn are some other good ones. TIP: If you have any leftover apples (unchopped), use them to fix these southern fried apples or my pumpkin apple muffins

Should I Use a Cheap or Expensive Bottle of Wine For Sangria?

The most important thing is that the wine tastes good to you before you mix it with anything else. If it's not drinkable on its own, don't use it. I personally think it's a waste to use a pricier wine in a sangria since it will be diluted with fruit juices. Save the special stuff to drink alone so you can appreciate it as a standalone drink. I typically go for wine in the $7-12 dollar range. The Exponential cabernet sauvignon I used today was on sale for $7 a bottle, which is a steal because it's award-winning and super yummy!

What Size Pitcher Should I Use For Sangria?

For this recipe, you'll need a pitcher that's big enough to hold about 10 cups, which is 2.5 quarts or 2.3 liters. There are only about 7 cups of liquid used in this sangria (not counting the bubbly topping added directly to the glasses); however, the fresh fruit (orange wedges, apples & cranberries) displaces the liquid and causes it to rise higher in the pitcher. If you plan on doubling the sangria, you'll need a gallon-sized (4-quart) pitcher, carafe, or bowl. Or, you can divide it between two smaller pitchers.

Cranberry Apple Red Wine Holiday Sangria (Easy & Festive Drink Recipe)

Where to Grab Ingredients For This Sangria

Want to make things easy and pick up everything you need for this drink (and the holidays) all in one spot? I'm sure you do! The Exponential cabernet sauvignon wine & Signature SELECT™ Soleil caffeinated sparkling water that I used for this recipe (pictured below) both recently won awards and are exclusively available at Tom Thumb stores. While you're there, you can shop for other award-winning OWN Brands products (like O Organics®, Open Nature® & Signature SELECT) that are all available at a value.

Note: Live outside the Dallas area? I shopped at Tom Thumb, but you can also find the same exclusive award-winning products at the Albertsons Companies family of stores, including Albertsons, Safeway, ACME Markets, Jewel-Osco, Vons, Randalls, Shaw's Supermarket, and Star Market.

TIP: Do you live in the Dallas area and don't want to go inside to shop? Tom Thumb also offers Grocery Delivery and DriveUp & Go™ for convenient ways to shop!

Cranberry Apple Holiday Sangria with Products from Tom Thumb

More Wine & Cocktail Recipes You'll Love:

holiday sangria, Christmas, Thanksgiving, cranberry apple, apple cider, orange, cinnamon, vodka, brandy
Spanish, American
Yield: 4-6
Author: Elaina Newton - The Rising Spoon
Cranberry Apple Holiday Sangria

Cranberry Apple Holiday Sangria

Prep time: 10 MinInactive time: 4 HourTotal time: 4 H & 10 M
Need an easy & festive cocktail for holiday celebrations like Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Year's Eve? Fix a pitcher of this cranberry & apple sangria in minutes, then let it infuse in the fridge for several hours (or overnight). It's packed with colorful & flavorful ingredients and is a good way to stretch a bottle of wine.


  • 1/4 cup of honey (increase this if you like it sweeter)
  • 1 navel orange
  • 1/4 to 1/2 a lemon, juice only (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups of apple chunks (I used 1/2 a Honeycrisp & 1/2 a Granny Smith)
  • 1/2 cup of apple vodka or brandy
  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 cup of cranberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 cups of unfiltered apple cider
  • 1 cup of unsweetened 100% cranberry juice
  • 1 (750 ml) bottle of dry & fruity red wine (I used Exponential Cabernet Sauvignon)
For Serving (Optional):
  • Orange slices
  • Cinnamon Sticks
  • Fresh rosemary sprigs
  • Sparkling water or a dry, bubbly wine like Prosecco, Champagne, or Vinho Verde (I used Signature SELECT Soleil Caffeinated Sparkling Water)


  1. Measure the honey into your pitcher and add a few splashes of wine. Stir the honey until it's dissolved.
  2. Wash and dry the cranberries, oranges, lemon, and apple. Quarter the orange and then cut those pieces in half. Cut the lemon into quarters. Core the apple(s), leaving the peel on, and cut it into small chunks.
  3. Squeeze the juice from the orange into the pitcher, then place the spent orange pieces in the bottom. Squeeze the juice from 1-2 lemon wedges (about 1/4 or 1/2 a lemon) into the pitcher and discard the lemon.
  4. Add the apple chunks, vodka (or brandy), cinnamon sticks, whole cranberries, apple cider, and cranberry juice to the pitcher. Pour in the red wine and stir well.
  5. Cover the pitcher and place the sangria in the refrigerator to infuse for a minimum of 4 hours. (You can this a day in advance & it will taste even better.)
  6. To serve, add an extra orange slice and a few spoonfuls of the infused cranberries & apples into each wine glass, pour the chilled sangria over the fruit, top with sparkling water or dry sparkling wine, and garnish with an extra cinnamon stick & a sprig of fresh rosemary.


SWEETNESS: Before serving, taste the sangria. If you'd like it sweeter, mix 1-2 tablespoons of honey with a few splashes of water, stir to dissolve again, and add this to the mixture. Start with a small amount and add a bit at a time until it tastes how you like it. If it's a little too sweet for your taste, you can add extra lemon juice or wine to dilute the mixture, but keep in mind that it will taste less sweet in the glass once you top it with dry sparkling water or wine.

NON-ALCOHOLIC (MOCKTAIL) VERSION: Replace the wine with a dry sparkling apple cider and top the infused juice mixture with sparkling water, ginger ale, or lemon-lime soda.

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Need an easy & festive cocktail for holiday celebrations like Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Year's Eve? Fix a pitcher of this cranberry & apple sangria, then let it infuse in the fridge for a few hours. It's packed with like fruity red wine, apple cider, cranberry juice, fresh apples, cranberries, orange, cinnamon, a bit of vodka or brandy & sparkling water or dry sparkling white wine for a bubbly topper. This is the best recipe for making simple & gorgeous holiday drinks in advance.

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. However, I ONLY recommend helpful products that I myself would use.

MEDICAL DISCLOSURE: The information included on this website is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions expressed here are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for your own situation or if you have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

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