‘Sangria’ has become synonymous with ‘wine punch’ for most people, but it actually holds a specific place in beverage history.  Around 200 BC, the Romans swept through the Iberian peninsula, planting vineyards as they went. Historically, wine was added to water to kill any bacteria and make it safe to drink.  2,000 years ago, however, winemaking wasn’t the skilled art that it can be today.  Herbs and spices were added to hide any off-putting flavors in the wine.  Eventually, even after potable water became easier to find, the custom was so popular that it began common for people to make their own blends of red wine and herbs. The Latin root of the word ‘sangria’ is sanguis, or blood.

A version of sangria was first made my Roman settlers in Spain

A version of sangria was first made my Roman settlers in Spain

Wine punches are not limited to Spain. In 1800’s Britain ‘Claret Cup Punch’ was an incredibly popular cocktail.  ‘Claret’ is the name the British gave to the red wines of Bordeaux during this time period. The wine would be mixed with lemon, sugar, carbonated water, and whatever else the creator desired (fruit, bitters, sherry, rum, juice, etc.)

Today, making your own delicious sangria is easy, so long as you follow a few simple steps.  I’m going to cover a white and red sangria, as many people have strong feelings on which is better.

So, red sangria.  The most common question I hear is “What type of wine should I use for sangria?”  The short answer is any wine that you like.  Sangria has no rules.  The long answer is that you should consider what flavors you will be adding and pair accordingly.  Something from Spain- maybe a Rioja, would be a wonderful traditional base for sangria made with brandy, orange slices, honey, and lemon juice.  If you are making something more rich, maybe adding pomegranate, rum, orange liqueur, and blackberries, a cabernet with more tannins would stand up to these strong flavors.  If you are thinking strawberries, raspberries, and rose water, a lovely pinot noir should work nicely.

While it may not be the traditional choice for sangria, white wines create delicious, refreshing drinks for the summertime.  Lighter and more tropical fruits are easier to use in this version as well. If you like sweet wines, moscato makes a great sangria. Peach nectar, raspberries, and strawberry would be a great combination of fruits for this wine. If you like something more crisp, use a sauvignon blanc. I’d use basil to enhance the grassy flavors of the wine alongside pineapple, watermelon, and a touch of elderflower liqueur.

Be sure to remember...

  • You’ll want to use a wine of reasonable quality, but there is no reason to break out the good stuff for a good batch of sangria.
  • Let you sangria sit for a bit after assembling. Preferably overnight- covered and in the fridge.
  • If you add liquor to your sangria, you will be fortifying it. If you want to be able to sip on it for a few days or it will be sitting out for a period of time, this is a good idea.
  • This is a premium idea for when you have lots of random wine to get rid of or someone sends you and over-large fruit bouquet.
  • Taste as you go.  Yes, the flavor will change as it marinates, but in general, this is a trial and error type of creation and you can always add more stuff.
  • In Spain, sangria is often served over ice and topped with soda water.  In the Arkansas heat, this is probably a good idea. Wait until the sangria is in the glass to add the soda water- keeps it fizzy.
  • As far as stemware goes, it will look great on Instagram if you serve in wine glasses with colorful, fresh fruit to garnish.  If you don’t participate in this silliness, anything from fine crystal to solo cups will work.
  • If you don’t have much time to let your sangria sit, choose fruits that are soft and/or porous.  I’ve seen watermelon turn a white wine pink in 10 minutes flat.  Also, in this case, fruit juice is your friend.   


And that’s it! You’re ready to create an awesome (and custom!) drink. Be sure to let us know when the party is!

Think you know a lot about alcohol? See if you which of these alcohol-related “facts” are actually fiction! 

Letting cold beer warm up changes the taste


The issue here is not a change in temperature, but the change in the presence of light. Beer is extremely susceptible to damage by light that give it a “skunky” taste. This is the reason that most beers come in brown bottles or in cans. Many beers that come in green or clear bottles, like Heineken or Corona, are intentionally creating that flavor, and in the case of Corona, the lime is suggested to further augment this flavor.

Champagne affects you faster than still wine


This is true for all carbonated drinks, including beer and cocktails made with tonics or other carbonated mixers.  Scientist have proven that those consuming carbonated beverages absorb alcohol more quickly, but they’re not sure why. One theory is carbonation increases the air pressure in the stomach which forces the alcohol into your bloodstream at a faster rate than wine or other mixed drinks. 

Bourbon has to be from Kentucky


Legally, any drink labeled Bourbon has to have followed three main rules:

1) has to be made from at least 51% corn mash

2) has to be from the US

3) has to be aged in new charred oak barrels.  

Bourbon can be made in any state at any time.

Absinthe makes you hallucinate


Though there was a harmful, seizure-inducing chemical called thujone in some early forms of absinthe, there have never been any hallucinogens in this drink. Much of absinthe’s bad reputation comes from French winemakers whose wine had lost market share to the much cheaper absinthe. They launched a smear campaign that eventually led to the drink being banned in much of Europe and the United States. As of 2007, however, absinthe is now legal so long as it contains only trace elements of thujone. Interestingly enough, most absinthe makers agree that one would need to consume about 300,000 gallons (about half an Olympic sized pool) of absinthe to be affected by thujone. 

Wine is vegan


Though wine is made only of grapes, many animal products, including egg whites, bone marrow, and fish bladders are often used in a winemaking process called “fining.” This process removes elements that would otherwise make the wine seem cloudy. Though the animal parts are always removed before bottling, this precludes the wine from being labeled as vegan. There are, however, several vegan wineries who don’t use animal products in the fining process and plenty of unfined wines available.

Signature cocktails are a great way to personalize any event, especially weddings. They add a level of sophistication to receptions and help to convey you and your soon-to-be life partner’s personality.  If you’re not planning to hire a mixologist or professional bartender, check out the fresh ideas below – they’ll help guide you while creating a fabulous signature cocktail for that special event.


Batch cocktails are a great way to serve drinks to a large group. Almost any drink recipe can be expanded into a batch. Your first step is to decide how many drinks you’ll need for the event and multiply the quantity of each ingredient. This can be done days or even weeks before your big day, and it’s usually simple enough that you could have a family member or bridesmaid create the batch.  I also suggest choosing something served over ice or from a punch bowl for easy serving.


Another easy way to create a simple signature cocktail is by creating an infused syrup. There are so many ways to make custom syrups using things you might even have growing in your backyard! Have some rosemary or lavender growing nearby? Both of those could make excellent additions to a Moscow Mule or a spiked lemonade punch. Mojitos, margaritas, sangria, and manhattans are a few examples, but, honestly, the sky’s the limit. The goal here is for your beverage to be delicious and easy to get into the hands of the guests.


Dehydrated fruits make a fantastic garnish that can be made ahead (you could even put the food dehydrator on your shower registry) or using exotic fruits as a garnish will make a simple beverage stand out- passionfruit on a cosmopolitan? Delicious! And don’t forget that edible flowers are becoming more widely available and make the picture perfect cocktail for a spring wedding.


If you’re like me at all, you’ve got beverage stations all over your Pinterest feed. Those are made by smart brides looking to avoid stress.  A Champagne cocktail bar could be expanded to include juices (orange, peach, watermelon, pomegranate… the options are limited only by nature’s bounty), liqueurs (Aperol, St. Germain, Creme de Cassis), fresh fruits, sugar cubes and Angostura bitters. With a setup with this many options, including a few drink recipes will make guests feel more comfortable crafting their custom beverage. Moscow mules are everyone’s favorite right now, and with a few flavors of vodka and liqueurs, you’ve got a bonafide beverage bonanza.  Nearly any cocktail can be expanded into a fun beverage station.  Think about the things you and your fiancé enjoy, and turn it into a statement for your big day!

You can also choose to include children into the beverage stations by having a lemonade stand with adult add-ins out of reach of the little ones.  Or, ramp up your coffee station with a little Irish cream, coffee, and nut-flavored liqueurs.

The most important takeaway from this is that you need to enjoy your wedding day.  By creating a no (or low) hassle signature cocktail, you allow yourself to step away from the crazy that is throwing a huge party for your loved ones and actually enjoy the moment with them.

Want to learn more about making your wedding easier? Click here to check out Susie’s recent appearance on Good Morning Arkansas.

Click here to learn more about the different ways we can make your wedding or event even more special. 

Ask a sommelier what their favorite type of wine is and they’ll likely respond with “bubbles!”  Sparkling wines are not only refreshing and delicious, but they can turn an everyday situation into a celebration. Fortunately for us, sparkling wines are available at every price range, and a bottle that suits your tastes and needs is easy to find at almost any wine shop. Most sparklings wines will fall into one of three categories: Champagne, Prosecco, and Cava.


bubbles mao


The pinnacle of the sparkling wine experience is, of course, Champagne.  What makes Champagne so special?  Both the location and production set Champagne apart from other sparkling wines. First, the grapes for this wine (only pinot noir, chardonnay, and pinot meunier can be used for Champagne)  are grown in the cold-weathered, chalky-soiled Champagne region of France that gives the wine its signature zesty acidity and mineral flavors. Secondly, the production process for Champagne is unique in the world.  While there are many ways to put the bubbles in the bottle, the original and most time-consuming way is to add wine and sugar to still, non-sparkling, wine and put it in a bottle. Then, the bottle is corked and put it in a cellar until sugar to start a secondary fermentation. A bi-product of that fermentation is thousands of delicate bubbles of carbon dioxide. During this process, Champagne bottles are aged from 15 months to 9 years. Champagne bubbles should be tiny and plentiful, giving the wine a near creamy mouthfeel. A bottle of Champagne from about $35 to well over $300.


Prosecco is one of my favorite inexpensive sparklers available on the market.  Prosecco comes from Italy and is grown in a region just north of Venice.  The main qualities of Prosecco are friendly and easy-drinking. The bubbles in Prosecco are much less persistent than the ones in Champagne- this is due to the way in which the bubbles are formed. The secondary fermentation (bubble makin’ time) occurs in a steel tank, with the wine then being bottled under continuous pressure.  With lots of peach, meyer lemon, and maybe a little creamy vanilla the flavors of this wine are sure to please. Prices for Prosecco are in the $15 range.


Cava comes to us from Northern Spain near Catalonia.  The bubbles from Cava are achieved in the same method as Champagne, giving the wine a wonderful texture.  Another similarity to Champagne is that some of the best Cavas use a significant portion of Chardonnay- one of the three grapes allowed in Champagne. The significant difference between Cava and Champagne? Following new technology. The Spanish have fully embraced new technologies that allow them to mechanize the secondary fermentation process and keep the prices down. With flavors of apple, pear, and bright citrus this wine is an amazing bang for your buck. Cava runs from $10 to $20.

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So which sparkling is right for your big day?  Even within these categories, the variances from producer to producer can be distinctive.  Speaking with your favorite beverage professional is the best way to make sure the perfect celebration beverage is invited to the ceremony. Click here to learn more about all the wedding services we offer.