Classic French Bordelaise Sauce

French Bordelaise sauce

The Spruce

  • Total: 20 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
44 Calories
1g Fat
3g Carbs
2g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 44
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 2mg 1%
Sodium 210mg 9%
Total Carbohydrate 3g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Protein 2g
Calcium 14mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Bordelaise sauce is a classic French sauce that uses red wine from the Bordeaux region in Southwest France. It's rich and flavorful, so it takes just a small drizzle of Bordelaise sauce to perk up a simple grilled steak or slow-roasted beef. This tangy and savory red-wine sauce is also a great accompaniment to roasted potatoes. 

Traditionally, the sauce would be made using a Bordeaux wine, but these wines are some of the most expensive in the world, so barring a Bordeaux, a good-quality dry red wine will suffice. These types of French wine are typically made with cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, and malbec grapes, so any good dry red wine made with those grapes is perfect for making the sauce. The better the wine, the better the sauce, so use something you would drink with your meal; you'll need one glass of wine for the sauce and can drink the rest when you eat.

The sauce can be made right before serving time, or up to a day in advance.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup dry red wine
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • Salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, ground, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon butter, cold (for make-ahead option)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Bordelaise sauce
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  2. In a small saucepan, place the red wine, shallots, thyme, and bay leaf and set over medium heat.

    Ingredients in pot
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  3. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil and continue to cook to reduce the contents to half of the original volume.

    Bring mixture to a boil
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  4. Add the beef stock to the pan and bring the mixture up to a boil again.

    Add beef stock to pot
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  5. Using a tablespoon, skim and discard any foam that appears on top of the sauce.

    Skim and discard
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  6. Continue cooking the Bordelaise until it has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon—otherwise known as having a nappe consistency.

    Coat back of a spoon
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  7. Pour the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve.

    Pour the sauce through a mesh sieve
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  8. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, to taste. Use on grilled steak or slow-roasted beef and enjoy!

    Bordelaise sauce
    The Spruce

Making the Sauce Ahead

  • If you are holding the sauce for later, lightly rub cold butter across the hot surface of the sauce to prevent a skin from forming. Alternatively, lay a piece of greaseproof parchment paper cut to the size of the pan onto the surface of the sauce. 

What is Nappe Consistency?

  • When making a sauce, the nappe ("to coat") consistency refers to the point when the sauce has reached the desired texture and will coat the food evenly. To check, simply dip a tablespoon into the sauce and swirl it around. Lift the spoon and flip it over to look at the back. The sauce should have coated the spoon but if it quickly runs off, it is not yet thick enough and needs to be cooked more.