Daryl Murphy's opener came out of nothing as he beat two defenders before striking a sweet left-foot volley into the far corner.
Within two minutes Andy Keogh stooped to head one back from Michael McIndoe's cross, but the result was rarely in doubt as Wolves slipped to seventh.
Wolves boss Mick McCarthy:
"It's never nice when you lose anywhere but remember who we were playing.
"Sunderland will take some stopping because Roy has brought in some very good players.
"Jonny Evans looks a superb player and Nyron Nosworthy was outstanding, although I don't remember him ever wanting to play centre-back for me!
"But I've enjoyed being back because I've got a lot of happy memories from the place.
"It was always going to be the toughest task of the weekend for anyone of the
top six to eight sides, but I thought we acquitted ourselves well."
Sunderland: Ward, Simpson (Leadbitter 71), Nosworthy, Evans, Collins, Edwards, Whitehead, Liam Miller, Wallace (Connolly 82), Murphy, John (Elliott 72).
Subs Not Used: Fulop, Varga.
Booked: Nosworthy, Whitehead, Liam Miller.
Goals: Murphy 15, Wallace 63.
Wolverhampton: Murray (Budtz 72), Little, Breen, Neill Collins, Clapham, Kightly (Bothroyd 62), Olofinjana, Potter, McIndoe, Ward (Craig Davies 82), Keogh.
Subs Not Used: Craddock, McNamara.
Goals: Keogh 65.
Ref: N Swarbrick (Lancashire).