Red Wine Reduction

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A reduction is just that – a volume of liquid that is reduced by evaporation. The wonderful thing is that when a liquid, like wine, is reduced, it almost becomes like a syrup. So when you choose to make a reduction, you don’t need any flour like when you make a gravy. Reductions are velvety smooth.

I wanted to make a reduction to serve with the beef Wellington I made for a special dinner. With a reduction, there are so many choices, but I’ll share what I chose to do, plus mention some alternatives as well.

Red Wine Reduction

Skillet in which the 2 beef filets were seared, with leftover olive oil
1 tablespoon of butter
1/2 purple onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Beef broth, about 2 cups
Red wine, about 1 cup
1 teaspoon beef demi-glace

Heat up the skillet over medium heat. Add the butter to the oil in the skillet. Begin by sautéing the onions until they’re soft, about 4 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook them while stirring for almost a minute.

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Pour in the broth and wine. Let the liquid come to a boil, then turn down the heat so that the liquid just barely boils. I recommend that you keep a close eye on this process because you don’t want to lose the goodness that’s in the skillet by accident.
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After about 45 minutes or so, this is what’s left in the skillet. Magic!
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Add the demi-glace and stir it into the warm reduction. Remove the skillet from the stove and pour the reduction into a small serving bowl. The reduction can be reheated later in the microwave if you need to wait to use it.

There are a few options, like I mentioned. First, I had to choose between serving the reduction as is, or puréeing it. It would be a little thicker puréed, but still silky smooth, but I decided to leave it as is; I didn’t mind the texture.

Taste the reduction before you serve it, to make sure it’s to your liking. If you ever want a reduction made with red wine seasoned beyond salt and pepper, some dried thyme is lovely in it.

There are other options with the liquids used in reductions. Regarding the broth, home-made is best, but I unfortunately had none on hand. I thought about reducing the purchased broth by itself first, since they’re terribly watery, but I decided it would be fine added along with the wine. And it turned out fine since I probably lost about 3 cups of liquid during the reduction process.

Regarding alcohol, you can also use Madeira or dry sherry or Marsala in reductions. Even a little cognac adds some zing. You won’t get that explosive alcoholic flavor after the liquid reduces, so don’t worry about that. And if you don’t want a dark-colored reduction like I did for the beef, you could also choose a lighter-colored chicken stock and white wine instead. It will still make a richly flavored reduction.

Like I mentioned, I served this reduction along with the beef Wellington. I didn’t want to drizzle the sauce on the top of the pretty pastry, so I just placed some directly on the dinner plate. As the plate is also brown, it’s a bit hard to see! The reduction almost looks watery in the photograph, but it was fairly thick, actually.

reduction

Other ingredients can be used for the aromatics as well. Shallots, for one thing, and garlic is always optional. You could also add celery and carrot dice to this sauce as well. I’ve sometimes included a sun-dried tomato as well, one that’s stored in oil, not the dry kind, to add some flavor and texture to a reduction that is puréed.

note: When I first started making the reduction, I had it in my mind that I would be blending it up at the end, but I changed my mind. I would have preferred to have more finely chopped both the onions and garlic beforehand. But in the recipe I’ve listed finely-chopped onions, and diced garlic, which is what I should have done. That’s probably why the onion and garlic pieces look bigger – they are!

37 thoughts on “Red Wine Reduction

  1. I was worried that you would tell me you made the demi glace. That would put me into severe hyperventilation… I once flirted with the idea of doing it, but stopped at making beef stock. Should do that again

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  2. I have a long history of failed attempts to make the wine sauce reduction… Lots of pots and pans to wash… Will try following your exact recipe, as it is probably the best sauce to use with the meat : )

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  3. I like this post. A wine reduction can be quite tart and bitter when not cooked properly. Stressing the length of time to cook was important. A nice finish is to strain the reduction then whisk a little butter for shine. Bone marrow like for a sauce bordelaise is a marvelous and flavorful addition.
    No worries about getting beef stock from a can and demi glaze from a jar. The quality is better. French restaurant, in France, use the powder form which I absolutely do not like. It is too costly and takes too long to do a real beef stock and the shelf life is very short. Only top of the range eating establishments use the real thing and yet I have seen middle of the range US restaurants making they own beef stock. That’s a paradox.
    I am not such a beef eating person but now i want to cook a beef Wellington. Cheers

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    • I wasn’t aware that a reduction can be bitter, but I know the wine has to be good! A good point about adding butter. I’ve never heard of the powder, but it sounds awful. If I didn’t like the quality of my purchased demi glace, I’d definitely try and make it myself, but I’m glad I don’t have to!

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  4. I’m sure the finished red wine reduction was a flavorful addition to the beef wellington! Your pastry in the last photo looks glossy and wonderful…what a beautiful dinner. I need to pad my supply of homemade stock this month and use these snowy days to my advantage.

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  5. Great post! A red wine reduction is the perfect company for Beef Wellington. I like to use shallots, garlic, fresh thyme and bay leaf, and sauté the herbs with the garlic. The thickness depends on how much gelatin (from bones) is in the beef stock. You could also mount it with butter to make it extra shiny.

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  6. This looks absolutely delicious Mimi! It makes me think of the coq au vin I made for my friends in Miami last week. All I had to make it was Pomerol and I cannot tell the difference it made. Huge!! a lot of people think that the quality of the wine we use for cooking doesn’t really matter. It does! It very much does… Great recipe here!!

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