Oct 27

Mastering the Red Wine Reduction

Coq Au Vin is a classic dish that utilizes the flavor of a red wine reduction.

Coq Au Vin is a classic dish that utilizes the flavor of a red wine reduction.

Red wine is a classic element in many delicious recipes. But, there is no better way to use red wine in cooking than with the traditional red wine reduction sauce. Once you’ve mastered this sauce, you’ll find many ways to use it.

The most traditional use for red wine reduction sauce is for steak or other beef dishes. The red wine flavor pairs nicely with the flavor of beef, and can really dress up the flavor of an inexpensive steak, as well as preventing it from being too dry. Red wine reduction sauce is also perfect as an accompaniment to a beef tenderloin for a classic holiday meal.

The cooking term “reduction” refers to cooking a liquid long enough to allow some of the water to steam out. This leaves you with thicker, more sauce-like liquid and more concentrated flavors. Following is a basic recipe for a simple red wine reduction that is packed with flavor.

Simple Red Wine Reduction Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3/4 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 (14 ounce) can beef broth
  • 1 1/4 cups red wine (Merlot, Zinfandel or Cabernet Sauvignon), divided


  1. Heat the butter in a saucepan over medium heat; cook and stir the onions, garlic, mushrooms and shallots until the onions are translucent, about 10 to 15 minutes. Pour in the beef broth and 1 cup of the wine, and bring to a boil, scraping and dissolving any browned bits of flavor from the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat, and simmer until the vegetables are very soft and the pan juices have reduced by half, about 20 minutes.
  2. Strain out and discard the vegetables from the sauce. Return the sauce to a boil over medium-high heat, stir in the rest of the wine, and reduce heat. Simmer the sauce until it is reduced to 1/4 of its original volume, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.

Once you’ve mastered this simple sauce, you’re sure to want to come up with your own variations. For example, you may choose to add additional vegetables for a more intense flavor. You may also choose to add multiple types of mushrooms to the sauce without straining them out to make wonderful mushroom/ red wine gravy. Mastering the simple, yet elegant red wine reduction sauce is a feat every cook will want to accomplish.

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