White sangria, whether prepared with white wine or wheat beer, is as fun as it is elegant and refreshing to drink during the warmer months.
It can be mixed in any number of ways and we are offering up two tried and true variations of one main recipe in this post. Both are infinitely customizable so you can easily modify them to suit your own preferences.
Before I got clued in on the virtues of a white sangria made with wheat beer I was a devout fan of white wine sangria. For many years. Then for a summer or so I indulged in this drink one of my girlfriends called tincho – Argentinian semi-sparkling white wine (mostly Torrontes with a bit of Sauvignon Blanc) with a squeeze of lime juice and served over ice.
But I regressed to the standard of white wine sangria until one day I mixed a weissbier sangria and was utterly hooked on the flavorful effervescence.
If you have not yet tasted a white sangria with Belgian witbier, German hefeweizen or American wheat beer – keep an open mind and grant yourself a chance.
What you will Need
To mix a white sangria you will need:
- a larger pitcher
- a cocktail shaker and a jigger (optional)
- a cocktail mixing spoon
- a couple of fun glasses, preferably with wider bottoms as opposed to too tall and skinny (these are considered traditional)
Depending on how many people you are making sangria for you may want to double the recipe and consider using an appropriately sized beverage dispenser. It will definitely come in handy at an outdoor patio or garden party.
Just place a huge bowl of ice near the clean glasses and the sangria drink and let your guests pour their own beverage. A pair of cocktail/ice tongs for transferring fruit to one’s glass is also very helpful.
By way of ingredients – notice the recurring theme – you will need:
- white wine or white (wheat) beer
- white rum
- a variety of citrus for the sangria fruit (or other fruit to match the flavor of the wine or beer)
- orange juice (or other juice)
- a flavored soda water or sparkling lemonade (or soda drink)
White wine varietals and beer styles as well as more liquor, juice and fruit choice considerations and alternatives are discussed below.
How To make a White Sangria
Take a look at the video within the white sangria recipe card below for a visual of the sequence of steps involved in mixing the sangria. I demonstrate using one of my favorite Colorado brewed wheat beers, Breckenridge Brewery Agave Wheat Ale, which is beyond perfect for the cocktail. It is light, with hints of spice and subtle citrus and a very sprightly kind of sweetness.
If you are predominantly a white wine drinker (a nod to your good taste:) add white wine in lieu of the wheat beer. A standard 750 ml bottle of white wine converts to exactly 25.4 ounces. Considering the much higher ABV content of wine compared to wheat beer, you can comfortably substitute the three 12 oz beers with just shy of a bottle of wine. Or go ahead and use the whole thing! You will not be drinking alone, right?
As you can see from the recipe and video – there is nothing difficult at all involved. Besides cutting some fruit the rest is a breeze.
Even though precise amounts for all liquids are specified they are meant to guide you, not limit you. You can reduce or increase the amounts as you see fit.
White sangria is mixed with either white wine or fruity wheat beer and white rum. The choice of sparkling water, fruit juice and sangria fruit is driven by the profile of wine varietal or beer style.
- 3 12 oz wheat beers OR
- 1 750 ml bottle white wine
- 6 oz white rum
- 8 oz fruit juice (OJ, peach, apple, etc)
- 8 oz fruit flavored sparkling water or sparkling lemonade/limeade
- 2 cups sliced/diced fruit as needed
Prepare the fruit of your choice. Wash and slice or dice and place at the bottom of a pitcher with about half gallon capacity.
Add the rum (if you want to chill it, use an ice filled cocktail shaker).
Add the juice and sparkling water. Stir.
Add the white wine or the wheat beer. If using beer be patient with the foam and let it settle. Stir.
You can serve immediately or let the flavors develop a little bit prior to serving (be sure to refrigerate if so).
Wheat beer has a much lower alcohol by volume (ABV) content than white wine so if mixing with wine consider increasing the amount of sparkling water (or sparkling limeade/lemonade).
Best Beers for White Sangria
Using wheat beer definitely results in an uplifting cocktail. It’s lack of bitterness and flavorful crispness are perfectly suited for cocktail mixing. Here are several suitable styles you can experiment with.
- American style (hefeweizen) wheat beer – definitive citrus presence and a good match for oranges, limes and lemons as your sangria fruit, but also strawberries and raspberries
- Belgian witbier – it is all about the orange peel here and if you are a fan of the bright, zesty flavor of coriander a neat trick is to grind about half a teaspoon of coriander seeds (mortar and pestle style) and add it to an ice filled shaker, then chill/shake the white rum in the same before adding it to the sangria pitcher.
- White IPA – basically hoppier Belgian style witbier. Go with the dominant hops aromas and accentuate those – could be tropical fruit or citrus.
- Bavarian hefeweizen – if you want to use tropical fruit such as mango or papaya the banana and clove esters produced by the yeast strain responsible for fermenting this style make a wonderful contribution
- Berliner weisse – the complex sweet and sour flavors of this style (often aided by fruit additions today) can be complemented by a variety of stone fruit such as peaches and cherries, even berries and tropical fruit will work really well
Best Wines for White Sangria
The passage of time will change this as we mix more beer cocktails, but as of right now the number of white wine sangria pitchers I’ve mixed over my life is still greater than the number of wheat beer ones. In result I have three favorite whites to recommend (with great conviction) that you use. The last one works for several of my girlfriends:)
- Sauvignon Blanc – by far your best bet if you are going for citrus fruit
- Chardonnay (unoaked, stainless steel fermented) which can be very citrus forward or with notes of apple
- Pinot Grigio – the great thing about this beautiful grape is that depending on the terroir where it was grown it can result in wine with a citrus profile or a stone fruit profile (which would lend itself especially well to summer sangria fruit such as peaches and nectarines)
- Riesling – great with white grapes, but beware of the sweetness
Beer White Sangria vs White Wine Sangria
Which one is better? No one can answer this better than you – it is the one you like more.
I do like both but prefer the sprightlier nature of the beer version. There is also less chance of a hangover with it as wheat beers are usually with lower ABV especially if compared to wine. I am all for a more easy going (read less intoxicating) sangria!
Tips on customizing this White Sangria recipe
Besides using different wines or wheat beers there are a few other things to consider in tailoring this recipe to your needs.
- this is a recipe for a sangria with rum and white is a better choice than dark rum flavor wise (some say white rum is the gold standard for white sangria)
- however if you wanted to mix the sangria with vodka instead of rum, especially a fruit flavored vodka the results will be very agreeable
- you can use brandy too, even though it is better suited for a traditional red sangria
- because the white wine version tends to be higher in alcohol, you may want to add a bit more flavored soda water or sparkling lemonade to affect the overall alcohol content of the mixed drink
- by all means use your best judgement – sangria drinks are not meant to be consumed so fast that they obliterate one’s judgement and impair their motor control ability
As with all sangria – the goal is to get happy, enjoy an explosion of flavors and NOT get a headache the following day (or the same night if you sangria-ed hard for brunch.
Enjoy responsibly and enjoy in good company!
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