Classic French Bordelaise Sauce

Classic French Bordelaise sauce over steak on a white plate

The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 20 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Yield: 1/2 to 2/3 cup
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
77 Calories
0g Fat
8g Carbs
3g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 77
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 322mg 14%
Total Carbohydrate 8g 3%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 3mg 13%
Calcium 27mg 2%
Iron 1mg 6%
Potassium 387mg 8%
*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, and wines made with those grapes are perfect for making the sauce. Just remember: the better the wine, the better the sauce. 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.

There are many variations on Bordelaise sauce. Red wine and shallots are two key ingredients. Some classic recipes use veal stock, bone marrow, and demi-glace, or some combination of those. This particular recipe takes a simpler approach, preferring beef stock so you don't have to make the separate demi-glace sauce or use marrow. It's just as flavorful and can be made quickly right before serving time. If needed, it can be prepared up to a day in advance.


Click Play to See This Bordelaise Red-Wine Sauce Come Together

"The sauce was very good with steak. It took about 4 minutes to cook the wine and another 10 to 12 minutes to reduce after adding the beef stock. I ended up with about 1/2 to 2/3 cup of sauce." —Diana Rattray

Classic French Bordelaise sauce in a white gravy boat
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 3/4 cup dry red wine

  • 2 medium shallots, finely chopped

  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 2 cups beef stock

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for classic Bordelaise sauce recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

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

    Bordelaise sauce ingredients simmering in a pot

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

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

    Bordelaise sauce ingredients boiling in a saucepan

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

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

    Beef stock added to Bordelaise sauce pan, boiling in a pot

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  5. Using a tablespoon, skim and discard any foam that appears on top of the sauce.

    Foam being skimmed off the top of Bordelaise sauce with a spoon

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  6. Continue cooking the Bordelaise by another 50% or until it has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon—otherwise known as having a nappe consistency. In total, the Bordelaise should have reduced by 75% of its original volume by now.

    Bordelaise cooked until it thickens and coats a spoon

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  7. Pour the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve.

    Pour the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  8. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, to taste. Use on grilled steak or slow-roasted beef and enjoy.

    Classic French Bordelaise Sauce in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga


If you want to thicken the Bordelaise sauce, prepare a beurre manie with about 1 tablespoon of softened butter and 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour. Use your fingers or a fork to make a smooth paste. Place the strained sauce over medium-low heat. Add about 1 teaspoon to the sauce and whisk for about 1 minute. Repeat until the sauce reaches the desired consistency.

Recipe Variation

Bordelaise With Demi-Glace: Instead of beef stock, use 2 cups of demi-glace (homemade or made from store-bought concentrate). Demi-glace will make a slightly thicker sauce.

How to Make Bordelaise Sauce in Advance

If you are holding the sauce for later, lightly rub about 1 teaspoon of 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. When ready to use, reheat it gently in a small saucepan.

How To Store and Freeze

  • Refrigerate bordelaise sauce in a covered, airtight container for up to 1 week.
  • For longer storage, freeze bordelaise sauce in airtight container for up to 3 months.
  • Reheat bordelaise sauce in a saucepan over low to medium-low heat until it heated through, or to at least 165 F.

What Is Nappe Consistency?

When making a sauce, the nappe (meaning "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 cook longer.