The Chef-Approved Method For Elevating Beef Stew With Red Wine

A good beef stew nestles its way into your body and warms you up on cold winter nights, but a bad beef stew can come across as bland and half-baked. Here to help us understand how to make sure our beef stew is hitting all-time highs every time is Chef Kieron Hales of Cornman Farm in Michigan. Hales told us that red wine "is the glue that adds the complexity and depth to the dish and really highlights the flavors of a great beef stew. The acidity of the wine helps to break down and tenderize the meat. With the reduction of the wine, the deep stone fruit flavor really comes out."

If you've ever had beef stew made with red wine, you know what he's talking about — those deeper notes that seem to only come out when a splash of vino hits the beef. But, will any red wine do the trick? "A red wine with a peppery finish and notes of stone fruit is best," Hales mentioned. "It should be something you would drink, not just cook with." If you're going to go through the trouble of adding red wine, you don't want to choose a bottle that tastes bad. Don't pour yourself a glass just yet, though. Depending on how much stew you're making, you may need it all. Hales said, "For stew that can feed six to eight people, I think a full bottle is about right. This will reduce down to reach the correct consistency."

Wine for the win

If you want to take your red wine and beef stew game to the next level, consider marinating the beef beforehand. "I love to marinate the meat in the red wine for 24 to 36 hours before cooking," said Hales. "I make sure the meat is dry before I take this step." By marinating the meat beforehand, you're making sure all of the flavors in the wine are being put to good use. Feel free to add whatever herbs or spices you feel would contribute to the marinade. It doesn't need to just be red wine; thyme, rosemary, and basil are all good options, but go ahead and get creative.

It's time to cook the stew, so what exactly are you supposed to do with the wine now? Hales told us, "The best time to add the wine to the stew would be after you have cooked down the vegetables and cooked out the garlic and herbs. I would then add the floured beef and then the red wine and cook this down to one-third the volume. Then add your stock and stew away." Not so hard after all. Don't forget to buy a bottle for the table. Hales said, "I love to have the same bottle of wine opened during the cooking process to enjoy [during] the meal, allowing it to fully develop and breathe."