Gia Coppola grew up around wine. As a child, she watched her family fix pitchers of Sangria on the Coppola vineyard in Napa, California.
“It’s just been a part of my life since before I can remember,” she says. Now the filmmaker has her own recipe for Sangria, which was inspired by the one her grandfather Francis Ford Coppola makes. Her twist? California brandy added to a mix of red wine and fresh peaches.
She loves serving her Sangria to friends and family when they visit. “I’ve been labeled in the family as the bartender,” she reveals with a laugh. Coppola will occasionally whip up classic Negronis or gin Martinis, but when she doesn’t have the time to deal with the minutiae of mixology, she’ll turn to Sangria.
“What’s fun about Sangria is you just throw it in and it’s haphazard and kind of messy and you can do it anywhere,” she explains. Coppola could certainly use some extra time: Her feature film Mainstream debuted this past May and she has developed her own line of wines with her grandfather’s winery.
What excites Coppola about winemaking is that it’s always changing. “Unlike movies, it’s not set in stone,” she says. “You can see how it evolves, see how people respond to it and then tweak it. It’s like a sculpture, in a way.”
Here’s how to make Coppola’s signature Sangria.
It’s no surprise that Coppola is a self-proclaimed “red wine person,” so the base of her Sangria is always red. She even recently released a Sangria-inspired red-wine blend, which is called SanGia. That wine is the foundation of her Sangria recipe. “It has a little bit of a Christmas flavor to it,” she says, “so I get a little nostalgic every time I drink it.”
While Sangria can be made with a range of fruit, Coppola always uses fresh peaches in her recipe—a move that reminds her of her childhood. “We have a peach tree and we have the most amazing peaches,” says Coppola. She likes to use one type of fruit, so the Sangria isn’t “like fruit salad.”
For a bit of additional oomph, Coppola adds a “glug or two” of brandy to her Sangria. She uses her family’s Agnesi 1799, a five-year-old grape-based brandy named for 18th-century mathematician Maria Gaetana Agnesi. Brandy “adds a little more of a kick and takes away from it feeling too sweet,” says Coppola.
Sangria is as much about the pitcher as it is about the ingredients. At home, Coppola uses a vintage ceramic one that she loves. “You put it anywhere and it looks like you’ve decorated,” she says. To make the Sangria, Coppola pours a full bottle of wine directly into the pitcher. She adds the peaches and the brandy, and then allows all the flavors to marry together for about 10 minutes. “I let it sit a bit so that the wine gets infused with the peaches, the peaches get infused with the wine and they kind of swap,” she explains.
Coppola serves her Sangria over ice in half-glasses gifted to her by her grandmother. She prefers these over larger rocks glasses or wine glasses because of their restrained size—and good look. “They just feel chic to me,” she says. Coppola keeps the ice simple, using standard cubes straight from the freezer. “For a Sangria, you want to keep it real rustic,” she says.
- 1 750ml bottle Red wine
- 1-2 Peaches, sliced
- 4 oz Aged grape-based brandy
- Glass: Half-glass or small rocks glass
Add all the ingredients to a jug or pitcher and let sit for ten minutes. Pour into glasses filled with ice.
In our column, House Drink, we talk to people about their favorite cocktails to make for themselves at home.
Illustrations by Olivia McGiff