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A red wine reduction sauce is one of the first things that French or other classically trained chefs master, and it’s something that you can make in your own kitchen as well. However, since you aren’t serving multiple seatings at multiple tables every night, you’ll probably have leftovers.
The short answer to the question in the title is yes, you can freeze red wine sauce. But let’s explore this culinary delight a little more first.
What Is Red Wine Sauce, and What Do I Serve it with?
Red wine sauce is obviously made with red wine. It also uses stock, butter, shallots or onions, thyme and/or other herbs, and salt.
Traditional red wine sauce is made with veal stock. If you do not eat veal, you can use beef stock and it will still be delicious, but it may not taste quite the same as what you’d get in a French restaurant.
You will want to choose a fruity, full-bodied red wine to make your sauce, perhaps a merlot or shiraz. Astringent or heavily oaked wines are not great choices because the wine concentrates as it cooks, so those flavors will dominate.
Pro tip: keep a wine bottle in your fridge, and if you have leftover red wine that would be suitable for sauce, pour it into the bottle. It’s okay if the wines mix, and it’s even okay if there’s a little bit of white wine in there.
That way, you don’t have to buy a whole new bottle to cook with, and you won’t waste any leftover wine (win-win).
Red wine sauce is traditionally served with red meat, particularly steaks such as filet mignon. But since it’s your kitchen, you can put it on anything you like!
It’s actually delicious on vegetable dishes too; remember, though, that the sauce contains animal stock so it is not suitable for vegetarian friends or family members.
Variations on Red Wine Sauce
Some cooks add other vegetables, a bit of tomato paste, sugar, balsamic vinegar, or other complementary ingredients. Again, these are delicious, but they are not classic – and that’s just fine, as long as you know what to expect.
Using the same technique and similar ingredients but swapping white wine for red produces a delicious white wine sauce with no cream. Almost all white sauces are either cream-based or thickened with cornstarch.
While cornstarch thickens sauces quickly, easily, and almost without fail, it tends to get somewhat gelatinous as it cools. Not everybody is a fan of this texture.
While cream is rich and satisfying, you may be lactose-intolerant or planning a meal for someone who is. Having a good dairy-free white sauce recipe can come in very handy.
The classic wine reduction sauce does use a little bit of butter to thicken the sauce, but it’s easy to substitute a dairy-free margarine if needed.
Leftover Red Wine Sauce
If you have leftover red wine sauce, you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days. Remember, it is made with meat stock so it probably isn’t safe to store it any longer than that.
As we explained above, there are quite a few things that you can do with your leftover red wine sauce, so even if you’re not planning on having steak again this week, there are plenty of things that you can do with it.
You can add it to a marinara or other tomato-based sauce for a decadently rich plate of pasta. Similarly, it can be an excellent addition to a hearty soup or stew.
Use it to braise or roast vegetables, or add it to a pot of beans. Keep in mind, again, that it is not suitable for vegetarians due to the meat stock.
It is delicious on most other kinds of meat as well. You can give a burger or pulled pork sandwich a major upgrade!
Freezing Red Wine Sauce
Now, what you came here for – yes, you can freeze red wine sauce. All of the ingredients in the sauce can be frozen; hence, you can freeze red wine sauce with no problem.
You can freeze the red wine reduction sauce in a single airtight container if you want. Make sure that it is filled close to the top so there is no excess air to cause freezer burn, but do leave enough room for expansion as it freezes.
Keep in mind that water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, but ethyl alcohol freezes at -173 degrees Fahrenheit.
Obviously, wine is not pure alcohol, and the sauce is not pure wine (and much of the alcohol will have cooked away anyhow), so the freezing point of the sauce will be closer to 32 degrees than -173. But it will not be exactly 32 degrees, so there is a chance that the sauce will not freeze completely.
If your sauce does not freeze solid, you should treat it as if it was refrigerated instead and use it up completely within a few days to a week at most.
If the sauce does freeze through, it can stay in the freezer for up to three months or so. It will still be safe to use after that, but you may notice a decline in quality and especially in texture.
Should that be the case, review the suggestions above for using leftover sauce and add it to a pasta sauce or stew where the texture issues will not be noticeable.
Consider freezing your leftover sauce in standard ice cube trays. When the sauce cubes are frozen solid, you can pop them out of the trays and store them in a heavy zipper-lock freezer bag or another airtight container.
This little trick gives you single-serving sauce cubes. Use them to fancy up leftovers in your lunchbox or use them in other dishes to add flavor and richness.
Although a red wine reduction sauce is a cornerstone of classic French cuisine, it’s actually fairly easy to make and to store. We won’t tell if you don’t!