Somewhere I read a suggestion to reduce wine separately before making a red wine sauce. After doing that, the alcohol taste is always gone, and I can control the wine taste efficiently.

A few times I've by mistake "over reduced" wine so it's more like a runny syrup (not scorched, by any means). By coincidence, I've always used a particular wine those times and never else. And all those times the sauce has gone bland and slightly bitter, while I expected the flavor to be more powerful with a more reduced wine.

Can it be that the treatment ruins the wine, or is it just a bad wine?

  • 1
    What kind of wine? What flavor does it haven when "properly" reduced?
    – FuzzyChef
    Mar 27, 2014 at 17:51
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    I agree with @fuzzychef This depends on the wine I think and other factors like the age and storage conditions. Plus some wines are made for drinking and not cooking. I've never really had this issue and I've cooked with many wines in different dishes...
    – Pdxd
    Mar 28, 2014 at 4:39

1 Answer 1


The extended reduction could be destroying or driving off some of the volatile, organic compounds that give the wine its flavor. Wine can contain literally thousands of aromatic and flavorful chemicals from the specific variety of grape and the winemaking process (see http://www.winegeeks.com/articles/93 for a good article that balances geeky and approachable) and together their flavor is what makes up the "profile" of the wine's flavor. As you reduce, some of the more temperature-sensitive ones are being driven off, just like how the alcohol in the wine burns off before the water does. So it's probably the over-reduction that's culpable here, but some flavor loss/change is inevitable with any reduction.

The other factor is dilution. Adding or removing water from a substance can change the aromatics that your nose picks up as you eat or drink. Try this: take two glasses of the same wine, chill one in the fridge, and add ice to the other until it reaches about the same temperature. You'll very likely notice some significant differences in their flavor.

The best solution is to watch your reduction carefully so that it doesn't over-reduce in the first place. If you want a stronger flavor, you're better off varying the type of wine that you're using. Fruit-forward wines like Merlot tend to retain their flavor pretty well in reductions.

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