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Sangria vs Mulled Wine: Comparing Two Classic Beverages

Sangria vs Mulled Wine

Last Updated on March 22, 2024 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 vs Mulled Wine: In-Depth Comparison

Closed Up Image of a Mulled Wine

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

AspectSangriaMulled Wine
Base WineUsually red wineTypically red wine
PreparationChilled (in a wine glass), sometimes warmedWarmed with spices in a mug
FruitsVarious, often citrus and berriesSometimes, but less prominent
SweetenersOften addedCommonly added
Additional AlcoholSometimes (like brandy)Occasionally (like brandy or rum)
Cultural OriginSpainNorthern Europe
SeasonSummerWinter
Star Rating★★★★★ ★★★★☆

What’s The Difference Between Sangria & Mulled Wine?

History

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.

Preparation

Pitccher and a Glass of Sangria

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.

Sweetness Level

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.

Fruitness Level

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.

Spice

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.

Recipe Twists

Putting Slice of Orange on a Glass of Sangria

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.

Serving Glass

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 [1] 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.

FAQs Related to Sangria vs Mulled Wine

What is the main difference between sangria and mulled wine?

The main difference between sangria and mulled wine lies in their preparation and flavor profiles. Sangria is a chilled, fruity wine-based drink, often served with added fruits and sometimes a sweetener, while mulled wine is a warm, spiced wine typically served hot and infused with spices and sometimes fruit.

How is sangria typically made?

Sangria is made by combining wine with fruits, such as oranges, lemons, and berries, along with a sweetener like sugar or fruit juice. It’s often chilled and served over ice, making it a refreshing drink, especially in warm weather.

What ingredients are used to make mulled wine?

Mulled wine is made by heating red wine with a variety of spices, such as cinnamon, cloves, and star anise, as well as sweeteners like sugar or honey. Some recipes also include citrus fruits like oranges or lemons.

Is sangria served hot or cold?

Sangria is typically served cold, over ice, making it a refreshing beverage, especially during hot weather. It’s a popular choice for outdoor gatherings and parties.

Is mulled wine served hot or cold?

Mulled wine is served hot, making it a cozy and warming drink, particularly during colder months. It’s often enjoyed as a festive beverage during the holiday season.

In Summary

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!

References:

  1. https://www.washingtonpost.com/food/2023/07/29/how-to-make-sangria/
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/dec/30/science-magic-mulled-wine-recipe
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