Basic Red Wine Sauce for Beef or Lamb

Red wine sauce spooned over meat on a plate, bowl with sauce on the side

The Spruce Eats

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 12 mins
Total: 17 mins
Servings: 5 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
174 Calories
9g Fat
5g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 5
Amount per serving
Calories 174
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 12%
Saturated Fat 6g 29%
Cholesterol 24mg 8%
Sodium 115mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 5g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 3mg 14%
Calcium 20mg 2%
Iron 1mg 5%
Potassium 242mg 5%
*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 red wine sauce is a simple reduction, and learning how to make one is a fantastic and basic skill to have in the kitchen. It's an excellent sauce to serve with lamb, steaksroast beef, or duck. To maximize flavor, this recipe is written as if you are making the pan sauce by using the same pan in which you've roasted beef or lamb, or seared a steak. There's so much residual flavor in the pan after cooking the meat in it.

Use a good quality red wine, one you enjoy drinking, for this sauce. A cheap or low-quality wine could produce a rather bitter sauce. Commonly used red wines for cooking include those that are a little lighter, such as Merlot, Pinot Noir, or Chianti, but if you prefer a Cabernet Sauvignon, pick one a little on the lighter side. Whatever you choose, those flavors will come through in your sauce. Opt for one that's on the younger side, with lighter, fruitier notes—those will be accentuated in the sauce, and a welcome taste.


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano

  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 2 cups dry red wine

  • 1 dash kosher salt, or to taste

  • 1 dash pepper, or to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for red wine sauce recipe gathered

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  2. In a saucepan or the pan in which meat was seared, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Place the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in the refrigerator until you need them. Sauté the shallots until tender—about 4 to 5 minutes.

    Shallots frying in butter in a saucepan

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  3. Add the garlic and sauté for about 1 minute longer.

    Garlic added to shallots in the saucepan

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  4. Add the oregano and tomato paste. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

    Tomato paste stirred into mixture in the saucepan

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  5. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced by about half and thickened—about 8 to 10 minutes.

    Red wine added to mixture in the saucepan

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  6. Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and strain the sauce. Discard the solids.

    Solids from the sauce in a mesh strainer set over a bowl

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  7. Return the sauce to the pan over low heat. Cut the remaining 3 tablespoons of cold butter into small pieces. Whisk the butter pieces into the sauce a few at a time.

    Butter being whisked into the sauce in the saucepan on the burner

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  8. Taste and season with salt and pepper, as needed.

    Smooth dark brown sauce in the saucepan

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  9. Use this sauce with grilled or broiled steaks, or roasted pork or beef.

What Does Wine Do To Beef?

Wine adds a ton of flavor in cooking; it can enhance, accent, and intensify both the flavor and aroma of food. The alcohol cooks off, and the flavor compounds are left behind. More specifically, wine is acidic and tenderizes the outside of the meat.

How to Use Red Wine Sauce

Ideally, you'd want to make this sauce after you've cooked lamb or beef, right in the same pan. This way you can use the pan juices to enhance the flavor. Here are a few options.

Rack of Lamb

Beef Tenderloin

Beef Prime Rib

Braised Lamb