Nothing finishes a tender piece of beef, lamb, or venison like a rich, flavorful sauce. An easy-to-make red wine reduction will not only add striking color and scrumptious flavor, but it will take a standard steak to the next level. If making a red wine reduction is one of those things you've heard about that feels completely unattainable, think again. This luscious sauce is easier to pull together than you think, and it will make your beef tenderloin taste all the more delicious.
Red Wine Reduction Sauce Recipe
With short prep time and a casual 20 minutes on the stovetop, this reduction can easily come together while your meat is in the final stages of cooking or resting.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1 cup stock (beef, chicken, or vegetable)
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme and/or rosemary
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the minced shallot, cooking for 5 minutes or until softened. Add the minced garlic and cook for an additional 1 minute.
- When shallot and garlic are soft but not browned, add the red wine and increase the heat until it comes to a boil. Keep at a gentle boil until the mixture reduces ⅓ in volume, 5-10 minutes.
- Once the wine is reduced, add stock and thyme or rosemary. Return to a gentle boil and reduce until the sauce has started to thicken in consistency, about 5-7 minutes.
- Turn to low heat and whisk in the butter.
- Pour the sauce through a fine mesh sieve to remove the aromatics and create a homogenous consistency.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
You'll know your red wine reduction is thick enough when it coats the back of a spoon.
What Exactly Is a Red Wine Reduction Sauce?
More or less, a red wine reduction is exactly what it sounds like. The premise of a red wine reduction is putting red wine in a saucepan with other aromatics, like thyme, shallots, and garlic, and simmering it until it's thickened to a syrupy consistency with concentrated flavor. Drizzled over a seared steak or rack of lamb, it really bumps the whole dish up to a new level.
Red Wines to Use for a Red Wine Reduction Sauce
When cooking with wine, you want to steer clear of heavily oaked profiles, as they can become bitter and unpleasant during the cooking process. Stick to dry, fruit-driven reds with full-bodied character. You're going for rich flavors that will flourish when concentrated and paired with red or gamy meats like beef, venison, or lamb.
Merlot is a great choice. The rich, brambly profile becomes even more pronounced in a red wine reduction, marked by jammy shallot and garlic. Cabernet sauvignon is another good choice. The full-bodied flavor profile becomes that much more concentrated during the simmer. The notes of plum sauce, blackcurrant, and baking spice pair beautifully with robust cuts like braised short ribs.
The cranberry sauce and earthy characteristics of pinot noir make it another good candidate for a red wine reduction. Drizzled over pork chops, it adds a whole other dimension of flavor. Zinfandel is a powerhouse of a fruit-driven wine and works here too. Go for a dry wine that will give you all the jammy fruit notes you're in search of without the added sweetness.
When to Use a Red Wine Reduction
Red wine reductions go particularly well with filet mignon, beef tenderloin, pork chops, and venison. These heartier cuts pair beautifully with the rich, complex, and savory sauce. Roll out a red wine reduction when some of these items may be on the table around the holidays or for dinner parities. Your guests will be IMPRESSED. That being said, because the sauce is easy enough to make, you can also bump up a weekday meal to something more grand by adding this into the equation.
A Sauce to Make You Swoon
Pan searing a steak or pulling out the sous vide for that pair of pork chops? Open a bottle of merlot or cab suav while you're at it. Pour a glass for you and a glass for the saucepan. Then, transform it into a thick and flavorful sauce to drizzle over the protein and elevate the main event.