The best Sangria in Chicago: Unveiling the Unexpected.

Stumbled onto the best Sangria in Chicago. No fanfare needed, it's just damn good stuff.

Sangria, that’s something I can work with. It’s not necessarily the go-to for hackers, given the lack of utility in holding a glass while navigating a keyboard, but it’s got enough mystery mixed in with a dash of ‘been somewhere else’. Honestly, I don’t see the point of social drinking, might as well be soda in those fancy glasses, but when it comes to Sangria, I guess it isn’t that straightforward.

Sangria’s got its roots deep in Spain, the kind of warm, colorful place that seems far removed from the grim greys of Stockholm. Reputed for its mix of red wine, chopped fruit, and a touch of something stronger – brandy, if you’re daring – it’s like a cocktail without the theatrics. Might not get you hammered, but there’s a depth of flavor that makes up for it. No surprise it’s a hit in the hot summers.

The popularity of Sangria, it’s really a matter of setting. Put it in the hand of a sun-kissed tourist on a Spanish beach, you’d probably get another order. Even better when paired with a spread of tapas. But here, in Sweden, in winter? Not so much. Still, it’s versatile enough to suit a rainy day, I suppose. Truly, the best Sangria has that transformative quality – wherever you are, it transports you someplace else, even if it’s just an illusion.

Historical Overview of Sangria

Find a thumb with a pulse to scan. If there’s no sign of that, check the teeth for dental records. If still nothing, check the rap sheet. That’s where crime intersects with history. Somewhere in the unpromisingly named Andalusian region of Spain, the birthplace of bullfighting, flamenco, and the world’s most famous fruit-filled wine concoction, people stumbled upon what would populate countless Instagram feeds centuries later. Sangria. And no, it wasn’t simply a ploy devised by smart wine salesmen with a surplus to shift. It had a purpose, a history.

When it comes to historic connoisseurs, lesser-known sums up. Think of sipping Sangria under orange blossom trees, or on a moonlit beach, not holding court at Versailles. Although one could imagine Shakespeare’s Sir Toby Belch relishing an ‘excellent canary’, his Spanish equivalent was more likely dunking rough red wine in a mixture of water, spices, and whatever fruits happened to be at hand. Sangria, in the beginning, was more about survival, practicality than sophistication. It was a wise choice in an era when water purity was often questionable. Better to add bacteria-killing alcohol and make the stuff palatable with a generous dose of fruit and sweetness.

Fast forward past knights, wars, monarchy, republic, dictatorship, democracy. Sangria survived, thrived even. The occasional upgrade came along, brandy for those special occasions, Cava for a bubbly kick. By the time Hemingway was extolling the virtues of the Andalusian region in ‘The Sun Also Rises’ and ‘Death in the Afternoon’, Sangria had already long conquered its homeland and was set on world domination. Yet, for all the globe-trotting, it remains tied to Spain, with the European Union declaring only the Spanish and Portuguese versions to be ‘real’ Sangria. In short, Sangria, like crime, has a long and convoluted history, full of twists, turns, and colorful characters. Whether you’re a history buff, a crime buff, or just plain thirsty, it’s a tale worth knowing.

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Recipe: The Best Sangria

After a day’s long work, settling in with a fresh vibrant glass of Sangria can take the edge off. More so, if the right ingredients brighten up the ruby red wine. To prepare, some steps may need practice, but it worths the effort. The key is precision in quantity and quality. Then let it chill to perfection.


  • 1 bottle of dry, fruity red wine
  • 1 lemon cut into wedges
  • 1 orange cut into wedges
  • 2 tbsp sugar add more to taste if desired
  • 1 shot brandy
  • 2 cups ginger ale or club soda


  • Pour wine in the pitcher and squeeze the juice from the lemon and orange wedges into the wine.
  • Toss the fruit wedges into the wine after squeezing (leaving out seeds if possible).
  • Add sugar and brandy and chill overnight.
  • Add ginger ale or club soda just before serving. If you prefer a subtler fruit taste, also add a bit of extra sugar.

Top Sangria Spots

Chicago, the Windy City, has more to offer than deep-dish pizza or the Bean. Though the city sports a vibrant mix of breweries and classic American bars, it also boasts a surprisingly sweet collection of spots that make wonderful sangria. If you are a staunch fan of this refreshing Spanish drink, here’s where you should head to.

Sangria Spots:

  • Name: Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba!
    2024 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

  • True to its Spanish roots, Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba! serves some of the best sangria in town. The variety is impressive, and the taste does justice to every fruity flavor. Paired with their tapas, it’s a delight you won’t easily forget.

  • Name: Tapas Valencia
    1530 S State St, Chicago, IL 60605

  • Reward your taste buds at Tapas Valencia with their signature sangria. It’s delicious, refreshing, and the perfect antidote to a warm Chicago day. It enjoys a rather dedicated fan base, all thanks to its balance of wine and fruit that isn’t overly sweet.

  • Name: Mercat a la Planxa
    638 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605

  • Stepping into Mercat a la Planxa is like stepping into Barcelona. With their sangria, they’ve managed to encapsulate the essence of Spain in a glass. It’s a drink that’s as unique as its venue, you won’t be disappointed.

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Prominent Sangria Sites in Popular Media

Talking of Sangria and Pop culture, one can’t overlook the movie, Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Woody Allen, one of the most well-recognized and highly praised filmmakers, served a healthy dose of this fruity wine punch in his film. Javier Bardem and Scarlett Johansson, enveloped in the enchanting atmosphere of Barcelona, sipping on none other but the authentic Spanish Sangria, made the scene unforgettable and left the audience craving for more than just the plot.

Another one that stood out is the renowned talk-show, ‘The Ellen Degeneres Show’. Ellen, with her humor and charisma, welcomed the world-famous singer P!nk and together they attempted to create their own version of Sangria, leading to much hilarity. P!nk’s own vineyard was mentioned, showcasing the singer’s deep-rooted connection with wine, further fostering the popularity of Sangria. These moments established the drink’s place in some of the most influence-ridden sectors of pop culture, making Sangria synonymous with relaxation, delight, and companionship.

The celebrity world’s love affair with Sangria doesn’t end here. Even in the HGTV show ‘Simply P. Allen Smith’, the garden and design expert brought Sangria in the spotlight, demonstrating how to make white peach sangria and emphasizing its role in making any gathering a delightful experience. With such illustrious portrayals, it’s no surprise Sangria has etched itself firmly into popular culture, becoming a beloved part of parties, movies, and even casual evenings.

Current Consumer Trends in Sangria Wine

Examining the sphere of Sangria consumption, certain tendencies emerge with a striking nature. It seems that the conscious consumer movement has not passed the world of wine unnoticed. An increased demand for organic and locally sourced ingredients has become apparent. Consumers, with their increasingly informed and meticulous approach towards what they consume, have steered the preferences towards Sangrias made from vineyards practicing organic agriculture; those refraining from the use of synthetic fertilizers or GMOs in their wines. Plenty value the taste of assurance – knowing their beverage comes from a place where the soil was treated with respect, and the production process didn’t contribute unduly to pollution.

Parallel to this evolving taste for ‘clean’ and ‘green’ wines, another trend has managed to carve out its niche – the crave for spicy Sangrias. More adventurous palates are veering towards wines that carry a bite, breaking away from the conventional fruit-based fuse in usual Sangrias. Certain purists may scoff at the introduction of hot spices into the traditional Spanish beverage. Nevertheless, the popularity of these spicy versions only seems to be growing, capturing the preferences of many seeking a unique, challenging experience for their taste buds. It is as if market adaptability and consumer desire for novelty have conspired to redefine the traditions, bringing about this fiery twist to the age-old Sangria.

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Optimum Sangria Preparation Advice

Attention to detail is fundamental when crafting your sangria – half-baked measures won’t cut it. Quality matters, robustness and sharpness beats cheap, insipid flavors any day. Use top-shelf booze. This isn’t a place for cutting corners or cost-saving – don’t kid yourselves by pouring in any old plonk. Also, let’s not forget about your fruit components. Fresh, ripe, hand-picked – that’s the only way to bring the best out.

Remember, temperature can make or break your concoction. Chill everything before you plunge into the mixing game. Your wine, your fruits, even your mixers – it all needs to be cold. The magic of sangria starts to unfold once the flavors marry. Let them have some alone time. Mix up your sangria the night before – you’ll thank me for this advice later.

Dare to be different, might be worth considering. Perhaps cardamom, star anise, or a strip of fiery ginger could give that kick you’re after. But remember, spice is like a potent potion, a tad too much, and your entire brew could be botched. Garnishing becomes individual preference. Don’t feel constrained by the usual apple or orange slices – put your spin on it. Pear pieces, peach slices, or even a handful of ruby red pomegranate seeds can elevate your sangria experience to a whole new level.

Spices in Traditional Sangria Recipes and Their Origins

The concoction of sangria wine relies heavily on a unique genre of spices, each bearing its own quaint backstory and cultural relevance. Make no small estimation of the power of fruits and spices thrown into the mix. They aren’t just accessories but key characters shaping the narrative of every sip. In its origin from the Iberian Peninsula, ingredients like oranges, lemons, and apples give sangria its fruity tones, picked locally and blended to perfection. These form the backbone of the Sangria, their sweetness complimented by a hint of tanginess.

But adding spices is what separates a good recipe from a great one. Cinnamon, for instance, prevalent in Spanish and Portuguese markets, exudes warmth and added depth. It hooks you with its sweet and savory persona, leaving a distinct aftertaste. At times, you may also find a hint of star anise or a grating of nutmeg, whispering tales of faraway Asia, but carefully chosen and added to not disturb the prime flavors. Whether you prefer it spicy, tangy, or sweet, contrasting flavors compete and collaborate, creating an interplay that every taste bud relishes, in a way that is so fundamentally Sangria.

Without these spices, Sangria would just be wine with fruit. It’s the deliberate and careful infusion of these spices that transform the brew into a symphony of flavors invoking the heritage of the lands it originates from. Each sip, a mosaic of tales, each flavor, an experience.

Humor and Gratitude on Chicago's Best Sangria

So there’s this joint in Chicago known for its Sangria, right? Supposedly the best in the city. People queue up just to get a taste. Heard a joke about it once. They say the secret ingredient isn’t exotic fruits or special wine, but just good ol’ Chicago tap water. Not exactly Michelin star grade, is it? Yet it’s so good, folks swear they can taste the soul of Chicago in every sip. About as likely as a virus deciding to skip your hard drive because it’s having a good day.

Took a lot of patience sifting through endless dribble on the web to get a straight answer. So much fluff and little substance. But you made it. You’ve read the whole thing. Appreciation’s warranted for such resilience. Never taken lightly, the effort of reading something from start to finish, especially in this age of snippets and scrolling. Lot of noise out there, not much signal. But you hung in there. Kudos.

Take some time. Let your eyes rest a bit. But when you’re ready for another adventure into the depths of the web, do come back. This corner is always here, offering a respite from the chaos outside. Here, we strip away the frills, the unnecessary bits. Just plain talk from an individual to another. So till next time, make sure you keep yourself safe. Always question, always dig deeper. Cause remember, the devil’s in the details.


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