How to Reduce the Alcohol in Wine Sauce

How long does it take to cook the alcohol out of wine sauce? A new study looked at methods and cooking times to see how to reduce the alcohol in wine sauce.

Why remove alcohol from wine sauce?

For a lot of people, a little bit of residual alcohol in a bourguignonne sauce is no big deal, but there are times when you want to make sure you’ve truly cooked the alcohol out of the wine or beer sauce that you’re making:

  • if you’re pregnant
  • if you have to drive a car
  • if you’re trying to track calories

You may also just be avoiding alcohol for health reasons. Whatever your reasoning, this study has some interesting information on how cooking times and cooking methods can impact the amount of alcohol left in a finished dish.

How to Reduce the Alcohol in Wine Sauce

Study author Pia Snitkjær used 900ml (3.8 cups) of stock and 150ml (about .6 cups) of red wine. Snitkjær explained in a press release that, “At this mixing ratio, the alcohol concentration starts at approx. two percent, but drops to 0.2 percent after a half an hour of cooking.”

She found three things that impact how much alcohol is removed from wine sauces during cooking:

  1. how much the sauce reduces during cooking
  2. whether you use a lid when cooking
  3. how much alcohol you start with

Numbers one and three are kind of no-brainers, aren’t they? A sauce that has reduced more has cooked off more of the alcohol, and sauces that start with more alcohol end with more alcohol. What’s interesting is that cooking with the lid on actually reduces the amount of alcohol in a sauce more quickly.

According to Snitkjær, leaving the lid on produces “a kind of reverse distillation where the alcohol disappears even more rapidly from the saucepan than the water. This is because alcohol is more volatile than water and thus can more readily evaporate. This is the same effect you use when you distil alcohol—you heat it up, so the alcohol evaporates more than the water, after which you can condense the vapours and obtain more concentrated alcohol.”

The key is to make sure that the lid isn’t tight on the pan. Set the lid on at an angle, so your sauce gets hot enough to reach a good, rolling boil, and the alcohol can escape, rather than condense back into the sauce. The liquid that condenses on the lid is water, which you want to go back into your pan, so your sauce won’t boil down too much.

How long does it take to cook the alcohol out of wine sauce? A new study looked at methods and cooking times to see how to reduce the alcohol in wine sauce.

Related at Care2

Infographic by Becky Striepe. All images and graphics via Thinkstock.

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