March Madness Party Favorite: Sangria

March 10, 2022

March Madness Party Favorite: Sangria

Sangria has been popping up in Bars and restaurants for quite some time now. For the most part, these “Sangrias” are nothing more than a wine cocktail – not even a glorified one. Real Sangria takes time. Spaniards didn’t simply throw wine in a cup with fruit juice and skewer of apples and say “viola Sangria.” No, this tradition had and still can have much more finesse. Most restaurants can’t do it justice. It belongs more to the realm of backyard barbecues and tailgates. It needs to sit overnight or at least several hours before serving – a perfect make-ahead drink! For these reasons, you should make Sangria the star of your upcoming March Madness party!

Tradition of Spain

Sangria came to us by way of Spain in the form of parasite aversion. Spanish peoples were often not confident of their water quality and would instead opt for wine. To literally doctor the wine up they would add spices, fruits, and herbs. This made the wine more of a health drink similar to the function of kombucha – but not the taste!

All good sangria recipes start with a bucket or barrel. Growing up, Sangria would show up in a 10-gallon Igloo drink cooler. Maybe for your March Madness party, this would actually be the perfect vessel keeping with the athletic aesthetic. Whether you want 10 gallons or not, is up to you. However, I was never upset that Sangria was a party guest that lingered for a week after the festivities.

Rum it is.

Next, you want to select your wine and liquor. Yes, liquor. Traditional sangrias often include brandy, vermouth, or cognac. However, I put rum in mine. There is no standard recipe for Sangria; it’s more like a good family casserole recipe – passed down, tweaked, and adjusted over time. When it comes to the wine I always use a red. A lot of people go to Grenache, but I love a nice Zinfandel.

Why Zin?

The reason Zinfandel makes the perfect March Madness Sangria lies in its profile. It is a true medium on sweetness with a bold body. Its jammy berry nuances make it a perfect pairing for citruses and crisp apple ingredients we will add later on. Coincidentally, this wine also pairs nicely with spicy and savory foods such as barbecue-coated meatballs, charcuterie boards, and jalapeño poppers. Starting to sound like a party, right?

Now let’s get into the fruit, herbs, and spices. You have to have apples in your sangria; it’s a rule. The best apples for March Madness sangria are The tender and tangy Macintosh and the juicy and tart pink lady. Others will do if you can’t find these. Just grab an apple that is tart or tangy as opposed to sweet apples like the galas and ambrosia. You will also want to add oranges, black peppercorns, cardamom pods, and tarragon to your list as well.

It’s called simple for a reason.

With the herbs and spices, you will need to make a simple syrup. It’s so easy; I promise. Just start with 2 cups of boiling water and put the herbs and spices in. Allow them to boil for 10 minutes or so. Next, allow the water to cool a bit and add 2 cups of sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Finally, strain your mixture into a jar or large cup. Now you have everything you need to make the perfect Sangria!

March Madness Sangria


3 bottles Red Zinfandel

1.5 cups Spiced Rum

2 cups spiced simple syrup (instructions above)

  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • Several sprigs of tarragon
  • 10 cardamom pods
  • Two cups sugar
  • Two cups water

5 Macintosh apples

3 pink lady apples

5 oranges

Large drink cooler


  1. Juice 3 oranges into your container
  2. Cut apples and 2 remaining oranges into small wedges and slices and add to container
  3. Prepare spiced simple syrup and add to the container (instructions and ingredients found in the text above)
  4. Add Spiced Rum. Stir and muddle the mixture with a large wooden spoon.
  5. Add Zinfandel
  6. Allow the drink to sit overnight.
  7. Taste your drink and feel free to edit to match your taste preferences. Don’t forget to munch on that yummy boozy fruit!

Come to our store to get your Zinfandel and Rum at 1781 W Broadway Ave, Maryville Tn 37801. We are open Monday-Thursday 9am-9pm; Saturday and Sunday 9am-10pm, and Sunday 11am-5pm