Reduction Is The Key To Effortlessly Elevated Wine Sauce

Wine has many more purposes in a meal than simply serving as an accompaniment. It makes for an excellent cooking liquid, one that has uses across a vast array of cultures and dishes. Any wine you cook with ought to be wine you like to drink — it doesn't need to be expensive, but it is worth it to stay away from so-called "cooking wine" in favor of something enjoyable. Out of the realm of possibilities, there are few better uses for wine than effortlessly reducing it into a velvety, elegant sauce.

A reduction is a concentrated sauce that can be made using any number of rich cooking liquids, such as bone broth, milk, cream, and, of course, wine. However, more so than any other liquid, wine elevates a meal thanks to the flavors made only bolder by reduction. There are really only a few simple rules to follow for wine reduction success and the sauce that results has a great variety of uses from savory dinners to bold desserts. 

How to reduce wine

Reduction occurs when a decent portion of the liquid evaporates and the sugars begin to caramelize, leading to a thicker, viscous liquid and a more intense taste. You could add additional sweeteners, such as honey, agave nectar, or plain white sugar if you're aiming for a dessert oriented reduction. However, a standard reduction is done with no additional ingredients.

In a small or medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the wine to a high simmer, and reduce it to ⅓ of its original volume. Be present with the reduction as it boils — owing to wine's sugar content, overdoing it on the reduction will cause the sugars to burn. Red wines shouldn't be reduced more than 50% since they can become more bitter because of their tannic nature. White wine, by contrast, is less tannic, so you can reduce it a fair bit without any fear of its taste being compromised. 

There is a whole host of sauces you can create by reducing wine. Beurre blanc is a famous French sauce made with reduced white wine and has a tangy flavor profile that is typically served with vegetables or fish. Red wine reductions can be used for desserts and are great when used to poach pears, or, if you're looking for something more savory, red wine sauce over a tender roast beef is an excellent option. Whatever you choose, reducing wine is an easy process for elevated flavor.