Use Wine in Sauces for the Holidays

Holiday entertaining is around the corner, which means a great deal of drinking, cooking and more drinking is likely in your future – so why not combine the two? Adding wine to your recipes creates a luxurious and rich flavor to compliment any dish. Cooking with wine may seem like a challenge but with a few simple rules, a little timing and a few (no more than five) ingredients, it can be a lot simpler than you think.

And, of course, don’t forget to pour yourself a glass of your chosen bottle before firing up the pan.


The Wine

When it comes to the wine, choosing a bottle you regularly enjoy drinking is a great start. If you’re looking for a suggestion though, a Cote du Rhône is a solid choice as well as any medium-bodied, fruity red blend. A good port is also great. For white – use Sauvignon Blanc or dry Vermouth. The Sauvi B reduces down to a clean flavor with some nice acidity.


Basic Pan Sauce

For an entry-level wine sauce, a few basic steps can be taken without even looking at a recipe. Begin with a mix of aromatics – think onions, shallots. Once these have become slightly translucent, and little garlic garlic. Sauté the aromatics in olive oil, instead of butter, because the oil has a higher burning temperature.

Then, add about a half-cup to a third cup of red or white wine and reduce the volume of the liquid by half to burn off the alcohol and make sure that the sauce won’t retain a boozy flavor. To finish, add either another tablespoon of olive oil or butter, depending on the flavor profile of your dish.

If you would like to add herbs – rosemary, thyme, sage, etc. – now is the right time to do so.

If a creamier sauce is what you want to achieve, add cream or milk now as well – about a half-cup to a full cup – and, of course salt and pepper to taste.

Not into all that creaminess? But want to add volume the sauce. Take three quarters of a cup of chicken or beef broth and add that to the reduced wine. Then, reduce the wine and broth mixture again to about a third cup following with the butter or olive oil and aromatics.


Two Ingredient Sauce

A wine sauce can also be ridiculously simple, using only two ingredients we’re pretty sure you already have in your fridge – butter and wine (key food groups) – so this one’sfor the home cook who really doesn’t cook at all. Just follow the above steps for a general wine pan sauce without adding cream or stock. Basically this sauce is simply a wine reduction. All it involves is reducing the wine and then adding a few tablespoons of butter to thicken and create a glossy sheen. Done.



Most holidays cannot be complete without a gravy variation of some sort, and of course there are many gravy recipes that call for an addition of wine. Like the previous two sauces, gravy can actually be much easier to make than one might think. Start with the drippings from a chicken or turkey. Then add flour to thicken, your chosen wine (both red and white wine can be used) and a bit of stock and you’ll be good to go.

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