Red Wine Is The Secret To Ina Garten's Best Marinara Sauce

Everyone loves a good secret. And renowned celebrity chef, Ina Garten has a juicy one — a secret ingredient, that is. In a Food Network recipe video, the cookbook author extraordinaire shares how she uses red wine to enhance homemade marinara sauce.

Although it's common to include red wine in many pasta sauces (Garten also uses it to elevate a classic bolognese), a traditional marinara, such as from Naples (where it is thought to have originated), is much simpler, using just four ingredients: tomatoes, garlic, herbs, and olive oil. So it's Garten's use of wine that sets the Barefoot Contessa's marinara apart from the standard Italian version, lending it a more boldly robust flavor. "Of course, you can buy it [marinara] in a jar, and there's [sic] some really good ones, but there's nothing like homemade. It's so chunky and flavorful," she explains in the video, before demonstrating how to make it yourself at home.

Ina Garten's wine-infused marinara

As per usual for the Food Network star, Ina Garten's marinara recipe is super simple to make. For minimal effort, you'll be rewarded with a thick, vibrant, mouthwatering sauce. Be sure to make an extra big batch and freeze some for nights when you're short on time. 

To make the Chianti-laced marinara, Garten starts by sautéing onions and garlic in olive oil. Once the onions have turned translucent and begun to caramelize, she adds the wine. Her preference is Chianti, but any red wine will do in a pinch. She pours about a half cup into the pan and increases the heat from medium to high for a few minutes, in order to cook off some of the alcohol and allow the wine to meld with the onions and garlic. Next, she adds a can of crushed plum tomatoes, fresh Italian parsley, salt, and pepper. Finally, she reduces the heat, stirring and simmering for about 15 minutes before serving atop pasta or whatever you'd like.

Garten likes to use this marinara sauce with grilled chicken or fish, as a pizza sauce, or with spaghetti and meatballs, but it's also a great dipper for mozzarella sticks. And like mozzarella sticks, the best-kept secrets — and secret ingredients — are really meant to be shared.