According to this recipe:

To make shrimp scampi you want to first cook the (marinated) shrimps in olive oil, then remove them, then lightly brown garlic slices, add white wine and let the alcohol evaporate, then add butter to melt and add the shrimps back.

Is there some specific reason to avoid putting the butter in before the wine?

I ask because in the video they mistakenly put the butter first and then they even throw the whole thing away and start over.

  • Others have already answered the question as to why it is done this way. I just wanted to point out that the technique is referred to as Mounting and provide a little light reading on the matter.
    – Summer
    May 10, 2018 at 16:15

4 Answers 4


When adding wine for such a sauce, you want to reduce it down quite a bit (not to complete drynesss, though). The butter is there to give the sauce body by thickening it. But as there's not much that acts as an emulsifier1 except the butter proteins, you don't want to heat it more than strictly necessary once you add the butter: excessive heat would denature the proteins and destroy the emulsifier properties. This kind of sauce is also very difficult to reheat without it separating.

And of course, reducing a water-based liquid with a lot of oil in the pan gets messy. Butter or olive oil won't make a difference in that.

1: It's the emulsifying action of the butter proteins that keeps your sauce smooth, and prevents it separating in oil and water layers.


Because you want to cook (reduce) the wine down (or any other liquid).

Also, adding butter, usually cold butter chunks in the pan at the end will help emulsify the sauce.

in the grand scheme of things it is not a big problem if you add wine after the butter, but the result will be different, the wine will taste more raw, the sauce will not be as smooth.

I personally would not throw it out if it is for me only.

  • I see, is it something about butter specifically that makes reducing the wine harder though? Because the pan already has a decent amount of oil in it at that point. Maybe it's because butter has water in it? Or do we just not want to heat the butter for so long?
    – Saizan
    May 7, 2018 at 19:18

Fat and liquid don't mix well. If you add the better first you risk the wine splattering all over the place. It will be difficult and messy to reduce the wine down with the butter already in. Also as the other poster said the butter will emulsify the sauce, which it will not do if added first.

  • That too - though I guess butter heated to a point where it would react that drastically with water would be considered a mistake in the first place for that kind of recipe :) May 7, 2018 at 18:33

Well, as you're adding the wine directly after browning some garlic, I would expect that the wine ends up deglazing the pan - it will cool the pan, stop the garlic from overcooking, and loosen any bits of frond from the bottom, which brings all that lovely browned flavor into the sauce.

If you add butter first, it tends not to stop food from overcooking the same way liquids do (the butter gets to frying temperature quickly, as opposed to the liquid boiling off and taking heat with it) and it really doesn't loosen the frond the way liquid does.

The other answers mention the reduction, and longer/shorter cooking times for the wine and butter on the flavorings, and they all can play roles, but I thought it'd be worth mentioning the mechanical role the liquid can play

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