Marchand de Vin: Red Wine Reduction Sauce

Red wine reduction sauce

Vegar Abelsnes Photography/Getty Images

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 25 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
116 Calories
1g Fat
22g Carbs
4g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 116
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 39mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 22g 8%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Protein 4g
Calcium 12mg 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.)

A marchand de vin (French for "wine merchant") sauce is a classic red wine reduction sauce that is best known as French steak sauce. Much like A1 is the go-to sauce in the U.S., this is the French culinary equivalent. In the most classic definition of "sauce," it is essentially a liquid plus some sort of thickening agent along with other flavoring ingredients.

In this case, the sauce is made by reducing dry red wine and chopped shallots and then simmering that in a basic demi-glace. The marchand de vin sauce is delicious served with roasts and steaks.

In classical French cooking, this sauce is considered a stepchild of the Espagnole mother sauce. Espagnole sauce (French for "Spanish") is a simple brown sauce. The Espagnole brown sauce is mixed with a few other ingredients like brown stock and spices to become a demi-glace. Demi-glace is a key component of marchand de vin.

The term "mother sauce" refers to any one of five basic sauces in French cooking, which are the starting point for making various secondary sauces or "small sauces." The other mother sauces are béchamel, velouté, tomato sauce, and Hollandaise.

Marchand de vin is not to be confused with other red wine reduction sauces popularly used in French cooking. There are quite a few, and they often get mistaken for each other since they use similar ingredients like demi-glace, shallots, and often, butter. The most commons ones being a Bordelaise sauce (Bordeaux wine, veal stock, beef marrow) and a Bourguignonne (Burgundy wine, mushrooms) sauce. Unlike its close relatives, the best wine to use for a marchand de vin sauce is one with soft tannins like a merlot or a pinot noir.


Steps to Make It

  1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the wine and shallots. Heat until the liquid boils, lower the heat a bit and continue simmering until the liquid has reduced by three-fourths.

  2. Add the demi-glace, then lower heat to a simmer, and reduce for about 5 minutes.

  3. Strain through a mesh strainer, season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper.


  • Serve right away. If you made more than you needed, you can freeze the leftovers in ice cube trays and drop in a cube to liven up many dishes, sauces, or stews instantly.

Recipe Variations

  • Buttery goodness: For an even velvetier finish, you can add butter at the end of the recipe. Many French preparations of this sauce always include butter as an ingredient. You can include 2 to 4 tablespoons of butter (depending on how rich you want it). Add the cold butter a little at a time, whisking until it dissolves into the sauce. Do not over-mix it to the point that the butter becomes oily.
  • Flavor bomb: Add one sprig of thyme, one sprig of parsley, and a bay leaf to the wine and shallots. When you strain it, the sprigs and bay leaf will be collected. Toss them out.