From America's Test Kitchen Season 6: Paella Party
Many people mistake sangria for an unruly collection of fruit awash in a sea of overly sweetened red wine. We wanted a robust, sweet-tart wine punch.
After trying a variety of red wines, we found that inexpensive wine works best. (Experts told us that the sugar and fruit called for in sangria throw off the balance of any wine used, so why spend a lot on something that was carefully crafted?) We experimented with untold varieties of fruit to put in our sangria and finally concluded that simpler is better. We preferred the straightforward tang of citrus in the form of oranges and lemons. And we discovered that the zest and pith as well as the fruit itself make an important contribution to flavor. Orange liqueur is standard in recipes for sangria, and after experimenting we found that here, as with the wine, cheaper was just fine, this time in the form of triple sec. Fortification with any other alcoholic beverage, from gin to port to brandy, simply gave the punch too much punch. What we wanted, and what we now had, was a light, refreshing drink.
The longer sangria sits before drinking, the more smooth and mellow it will taste. A full day is best, but if that’s impossible, give it an absolute minimum of two hours to sit. Use large, heavy, juicy oranges and lemons for the best flavor. Doubling or tripling the recipe is fine, but you’ll have to switch to a large punch bowl in place of the pitcher. An inexpensive Merlot is the best choice for this recipe.