Mulled Wine Sangria (Perfect Christmas Cocktail)

With tart cranberries, mulling spices, red wine, and liquor, this mulled red wine sangria is served on ice and sure to be a new winter favorite! 

A glass of mulled red wine sangria on ice, garnished with cinnamon sticks, rosemary, and a straw. There is also a drink marker that looks like a swimmer with a Santa hat on.

Last Christmas, we were invited to a neighborhood brunch and I was asked to bring a cocktail to share. My sister makes the best drinks in the world, and she gave me her recipe for this mulled red wine sangria.

At the brunch, everyone was walking around with these adorable and festive drinks and I got many requests for the recipe before the morning was over. This is served chilled, highlighting the tart cranberries along with the same flavors and spices I love about a warm mulled wine. 

Along with the spices and berries, this has the holiday combination of Cointreau and brandy. With the celebratory flavors of fresh cranberry, this mulled red wine sangria is perfect for get-togethers, celebrations, and evenings in front of the fire.

Unlike a Hot Toddy which is served warm and has more of a whiskey base, or Mulled Cider with its apple flavor profile, this mulled red wine sangria offers a perfect balance of tart, sweet, and spicy flavors.

Glasses of mulled red wine sangria, surrounded by fresh cranberries and oranges.

What is Mulled Wine Sangria?

We have the Romans to thank for this Christmas treat. They were the first ones documented for warming their wine for the winter months. That said, sangria is also associated with summer and sitting on patios in the sun. It can be served chilled, with oodles of fruit and additional spirits. This recipe is the best of both worlds! I am usually hesitant for sweeter wines and drinks, but this mulled red wine sangria is balanced, thanks to the tartness of the cranberries and plenty of mulling spices. 

What Makes This Mulled Wine Sangria So Good?

This drink blew my mind when I first had it, since mulled wine and sangria seem like opposites but I can’t believe I haven’t done it earlier. I love this because: 

  • Since it is chilled, the drink is more refreshing than cozy, so it pairs far better with appetizers and full meals. 
  • Easily serves a big crowd at a brunch, celebration, or open house. 
  • It can be made ahead, and kept in the fridge until ready. 
These are the ingredients for the mulled red wine sangria. Mulling spices, cranberry juice, an orange, rosemary sprigs, red wine, Brandy, and Cointreau are lined up in the back. A bowl of brown sugar and a bowl of cranberries are in the foreground.
serves 10-12 1 hour 20 minutes


  • 1 cups cranberry juice
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup mulling spices
  • 1 strip orange peel
  • 1 bottle red wine
  • ½ cup Cointreau
  • ½ cup Brandy


  • Add cranberry juice, cranberries, brown sugar, mulling spices, and orange peel to a saucepan. Cook until the brown sugar has dissolved completely. Set aside to cool. 
  • Pour into a large pitcher or dispenser. Add red wine, Cointreau, and brandy. Chill completely. (At least one hour)
  • Serve over ice in a mason jar or clear glass with rosemary sprigs, orange slices, cranberries, and a straw.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 176kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Sodium: 8mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 15g

Tips and Tricks

  • Garnishes: Rosemary sprigs, more fresh cranberries, and orange slices are my preferred garnishes to have on hand. Oh! And lots of ice! 
  • Wine: The wine choice will make a huge difference in the sweetness of this drink. I prefer a Pinot Noir or Beaujolais, which balance well the tartness of the cranberries. Mid-shelf and blends are more affordable and work well here! 
  • Mulling Spices: This is also dependent upon preference, but there are some usual suspects in these blends. Often, this includes cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice. You can buy pre-packaged spice blends, or make your own mix at home  

Serving Ideas

  • I use rosemary sprigs, orange slices, and fresh cranberries as a garnish.
  • Since the color of this mulled red wine sangria is so gorgeous, I like to serve it in a clear glass or mason jar
  • If serving this at events or gatherings with lots of folks, using some fun drink markers is always a hit.
  • To include any kids or non-drinkers in the mix, you can add sparkling cider instead of wine and liquor after the first step. 

What is the Difference Between Sangria and Mulled Wine?

Sangria, that fruity and refreshing drink, originated in Spain and Portugal. It contains both red and white wines, chopped fruit, citrus juice, sweetener, and sometimes brandy or other spirits. The fruit and sweetener bring the sweetness, while the wine and spirits add depth and complexity (and alcohol).

Mulled wine is warm and spicy and is better known throughout much of Europe. It contains only red wine (not white wine this time), which is heated then mixed with spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. For that added sweetness, some turn to fruit juice or honey. The spices add warmth and a distinct scent while the wine and fruit juice or honey add depth and sweetness.

Which Red Wine Goes Well With Cranberries?

I recommend a Beaujolais or Pinot Noir on account they are lighter in body and have some sweetness to them. That sweetness is important, as it balances out the tartness of the cranberries.

You could also try a sparkling red wine, such as Lambrusco, which would provide a refreshing contrast to the tartness of the cranberries.

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