Red Wine Sauce

(Aug. 9 2019) “Wine is bottled poetry.” This quote by Robert Louis Stevenson is dear to my heart indeed.

Wine enthusiasts know exactly what type of grape tickles their fancy, but how many are as knowledgeable when it comes to cooking with wine.

So, pour yourself a glass of vino and let us review the specifics for further comprehension.

There is a misconception that you can cook with inferior wines; only use wines that excite your palate.

Cooking wines that can be purchased in your local supermarkets should be avoided at all costs.

These so-called cooking wines are salty and include other additives that may affect the taste of your dish. They are also indicative of an inexperienced chef.

One of the main reasons to cook with wine is to add acidity to a dish, which in turn brings out other flavors. But because wine also contains alcohol, one usually adds it at the start of cooking, so the alcohol has a chance to burn off.

Adding a splash of wine at the end of the cooking process usually results in an unpleasant, aggressive taste.

White wine is a pantry staple for most cooks, and it’s very versatile which adds to its popularity. Use it to deglaze the brown bits for a pan sauce that includes sautéed fish, chicken, pork, or mushrooms.

A touch of white wine in risotto can take the dish to new heights. Pouring a splash of the merriment into court bouillon for steeping salmon, rockfish, or flounder can also elevate the flavor profile.

Red wines tend to be bold and traditionally go with heavier proteins. Keep in mind that full-bodied reds contain big tannins that can leave an almost chalky taste, so they need to be reduced slowly.

Choosing the right type of wine is always critical but also the way you cook it has a great bearing on the taste of the dish.

For stews, braises, or long-simmering tomato sauces, add wine early in the simmering stage. Let the wine reduce a bit and then add the other liquids.

For pan sauces, add the wine after you have set the meat aside to rest.

Reduce the wine to a syrup consistency, then add the other liquids such as cream or stock and reduce again. Whisk in a few tablespoons of butter to finish the sauce.

For marinades, combine the wine with the other marinade ingredients. The marinade can also be used as the base for a sauce.

Before conclusion comes to the forefront, one more point needs to be addressed for the utmost clarity.

Because of the increased interest in the use of wines, there has been much research on how much alcohol is actually reduced when wine is cooked over a period of time.

Because of the low boiling point of alcohol relative to water, one would presume alcohol evaporates quite readily; not necessarily so.

For those who relish chemistry and want to read further on this subject, I suggest a book called, “The Science of Good Cooking,” published by America’s Test kitchen – see Concept 37 – Speed Evaporation When Cooking Wine. The findings might surprise you.

Grilling season is in full swing and there is nothing better than a thick, juicy steak. The simple addition of a red wine sauce adds elegance and complexity to your main course.

Veal demi-glace, soy sauce and anchovy paste gives the red wine reduction depth of flavor and a richness that pairs beautifully with the grilled beef.

One does not have to slave over the stove for a fantastic sauce. The following red wine sauce is easy to make, and the results are delicious. Enjoy!

Red Wine Sauce


5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 5 pieces and chilled

2 tablespoons veal demi-glace

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 cups good quality red wine such as Pinot Noir

1 cup beef stock

1 cup chicken stock

1 large shallot, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons soy sauce

¼ to ½ teaspoon anchovy paste

1 ½ tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon peppercorns

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 ½ teaspoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon cold water

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add tomato paste and veal demi-glace and sauté for 2 minutes, constantly stirring.

Stir in wine, stocks, shallot, garlic, soy sauce, anchovy paste, sugar, peppercorns, bay leaf and thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook until sauce has reduced by half, about 30 minutes.

2. In the meantime, dissolve cornstarch in cold water.

3. Strain sauce through a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl; discard solids. Return sauce to clean saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Whisk cornstarch mixture into sauce and boil until slightly thickened, about 1 to 2 minutes.

4. Reduce heat to low and whisk in remaining butter, 1 piece at a time. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove from heat and serve with favorite steak. The sauce can be directly spooned onto the steak or served on the side.

Secret Ingredient - Wine. “Wine makes every meal an occasion, every table more elegant, every day more civilized.”

– Andre Simon

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