The best sangria is based on cheap wine and uses oranges and lemons as the only fruit.

The Problem

Many people mistake sangria for an unruly collection of fruit awash in a sea of overly sweetened red wine. There's also the premade sangria sold in liquor stores, which is at once sugary, watery, and flavorless--a poor substitute for Hi-C.

The Goal

A robust, sweet-tart punch.

The Solution

Start with cheap red wine, which actually makes a better sangria than the expensive stuff. (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, very drinkable drink.