Last Updated on November 27, 2023 by Lydia Martin
As someone who loves exploring wine drinks, I’ve often found myself pondering over the delightful contrasts between Sangria vs mulled wine.
While both are wine-based drinks, I find some remarkable differences that can make or break the decision about which beverage is the best.
So, if you want to discover what sets them apart and find the best drink to serve with your friends, read on!
Sangria & Mulled Wine: In-Depth Comparison
Sangrias and Mulled wines stand out in the wine world, each with a unique essence.
Sangria, a Spanish drink, is made with red wine and brims with the freshness of assorted fruits. It’s usually served chilled (though there’s a hot Sangria), perfect while chilling with friends on warm days.
“You can find joy in Sangria’s chill or Mulled Wine’s warmth.” – Liquor Laboratory
In contrast, mulled wine, a European beverage, is gently warmed and infused with various mulling spices like cinnamon sticks and cloves. It’s typically enjoyed hot, perfect for the cold season.
While Sangrias features the lightness and freshness of fruits, mulled wine is all about warmth and depth (like a hot Sangria), with its spice-infused flavor offering comfort during chilly nights.
Read: Mulled Wine vs Gluhwein
Sangria & Mulled Wine Comparison Table
|Base Wine||Usually red wine||Typically red wine|
|Preparation||Chilled (in a wine glass), sometimes warmed||Warmed with spices in a mug|
|Fruits||Various, often citrus and berries||Sometimes, but less prominent|
|Sweeteners||Often added||Commonly added|
|Additional Alcohol||Sometimes (like brandy)||Occasionally (like brandy or rum)|
|Cultural Origin||Spain||Northern Europe|
What’s The Difference Between Sangria & Mulled Wine?
The Sangria beverage has roots in Spain and has been a part of its culture for centuries, symbolizing leisure and festivity.
Mulled wine, with its origins in Northern Europe, dates back to Roman times and has a history intertwined with winter traditions.
A Sangria beverage is usually prepared cold, often rested to infuse the fruit flavors, while mulled wine is gently heated (in a slow cooker or electric kettle) with mulling spices, releasing a comforting aroma.
While both originate from red wines, they diverge greatly in their preparation. Sangrias begin with a base of red or white (or cider), enriched with chopped fruits like oranges, lemons, and berries.
Sweeteners, like honey or sugar, and a splash of brandy or similar spirits are often added. If you’re on a budget, a cheap red wine will do, but don’t expect too much character.
This mixture is chilled, allowing the flavors to meld (but you can make hot Sangria if desired; this time, you might use a slow cooker or electric kettle).
Tip – you better use a perfectly good red wine if you want a smooth texture.
In contrast, mulled wine involves gently heating the wine with mixed seasonings and is often sweetened with sugar or honey. This warming process infuses the wine with rich, aromatic flavors.
Even a cheap red wine will make mulled wine since it’ll be spiced, which might overpower the wine’s essence. But still, it’s better to use a perfectly good red wine.
Taste & Flavor
The Sangria drink is fruity and refreshing (sometimes warming in the case of a hot Sangria), with a taste influenced by red vinos and fruits used, like a boozy tea.
While the chilled one is refreshing, hot Sangria gives warmth for the chilly season. But hot Sangria is less popular compared to the chilled ones.
In contrast, mulled wine drinks provide a complex flavor profile, where the mulling spices dominate, complemented by the warmth of the red vino and sweetness from the honey.
Mulled wines are like a hot Sangria, Hot Toddy, or hot spiked cider but with extra flavor from the seasonings, particularly cloves and cinnamon sticks.
It doesn’t matter if you use a cheap red wine since it’s spiced.
Sangria’s sweetness can vary but is generally sweeter due to added fruits and sweeteners, like honey, sugar, and maple syrup.
Mulled wine, although spiced, also contains added sweeteners to balance the flavors. It may also contain honey, vanilla, and sugar.
Sangria is high on fruitiness, with the flavor of the added fruits being quite prominent. There’s also a citrus kick from the orange juice, providing a refreshing feel – best enjoyed cold.
The fruitiness is more subdued in mulled drinks, focusing more on seasonings like cloves and anise. But it also exudes a hint of citrus touch by adding orange juice.
The spices are the defining characteristic of a mulled drink, whereas Sangrias are typically devoid of seasonings, focusing on the fruit flavors. You can add tea or ginger ale for a twist.
Mulled wines usually incorporate cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, and other seasonings, which are absent in Sangrias.
Both beverages offer more room for experimentation, with Sangrias using different fruits and spirits and mulled wine using various spice combinations.
Besides, the use of red vino varies, with some recipes calling for a perfectly good red wine or even a cheap red wine.
Aside from orange juice, you can incorporate tea or cider when prepping these beverages. It will just depend on your preference. Also, you can use a cheap red wine for both; just manage your expectations.
Sangrias are usually served in a large pitcher or punch bowl and poured into a glass. In comparison, mulled is often served in a mug or heat-resistant glass, similar to Hot Toddies. Find out how long mulled wine lasts here.
Availability & Popularity
The Sangria drink  is widely popular in warm climates, while a mulled beverage is a staple in winter and Christmas markets in Europe.
“You were drinking sangria and I was throwing oranges at you, but it didn’t matter.” ― Richard Siken, American Poet
In fact, the two are popular in their own right, depending on the season.
Which is better for Summer, Sangria or Mulled Wine?
Sangrias are better for summer. Its chilled, fruity nature makes it perfect for the hot weather. But there’s a hot Sangria variation, requiring the use of a slow cooker or electric kettle, which is perfect for chilly nights.
Can you make Sangria with Mulled Wine?
Yes, you can make Sangrias with mulled wines . It would be an unusual twist, combining the spiciness of mulled wine with Sangria’s freshness. Think of it as hot Sangria.
After comparing these drinks, I can say that each has its unique charm. But nothing beats a glass of Sangria with its refreshing and fruity profile.
While mulled wine is perfect for chilly days with its warm, spiced flavors, a hot Sangria can provide the same warming vibe without the complex flavors. So, it’s more versatile.
Regardless of the season, I’ll recommend Sangrias (chilled or hot Sangria), but the choice ultimately depends on your preference. So, go get your mug or glass, and enjoy it with friends!