What Does Red Wine Do for Beef Stew?

Red wine is a common ingredient in beef stew, and for good reason. It adds a rich, flavorful depth to the dish that can’t be replicated with other liquids. But what exactly does red wine do for beef stew?

Tenderizes the Meat

One of the most important things that red wine does for beef stew is tenderize the meat. The acidity in the wine helps to break down the tough connective tissue in the meat, making it more tender and flavorful. This is especially important for tougher cuts of meat, such as chuck roast or brisket.

Adds Flavor

Red wine also adds a lot of flavor to beef stew. The complex flavors of the wine, such as fruity, spicy, and earthy notes, meld with the other ingredients in the stew to create a rich and satisfying dish.

Concentrates the Flavors

When red wine is simmered in a stew, some of the liquid evaporates. This concentrates the flavors of the wine, making them even more pronounced in the final dish.

Pairs Well with Beef

Red wine is a natural pairing for beef. The flavors of the wine complement the beef without overpowering it. This makes red wine an ideal choice for beef stew, as it allows the flavors of the meat to shine through.

How to Choose the Best Red Wine for Beef Stew

Not all red wines are created equal. When choosing a red wine for beef stew, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Body: The body of a wine refers to its weight and texture. For beef stew, you’ll want to choose a full-bodied wine with a lot of structure. This will help to stand up to the hearty flavors of the stew.
  • Tannin: Tannins are compounds found in red wine that give it a bitter taste. Tannins can help to balance out the sweetness of the wine and add complexity to the flavor. For beef stew, you’ll want to choose a wine with moderate tannins.
  • Acidity: The acidity of a wine refers to its tartness. Acidity can help to brighten up the flavors of the stew and add a touch of freshness. For beef stew, you’ll want to choose a wine with moderate acidity.

Some of the Best Red Wines for Beef Stew

Here are a few of the best red wines for beef stew:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon: Cabernet Sauvignon is a full-bodied wine with high tannins and moderate acidity. It has a complex flavor profile with notes of black cherry, plum, and spice.
  • Merlot: Merlot is a medium-bodied wine with moderate tannins and acidity. It has a softer flavor profile than Cabernet Sauvignon, with notes of red fruit, chocolate, and herbs.
  • Pinot Noir: Pinot Noir is a light-bodied wine with low tannins and high acidity. It has a delicate flavor profile with notes of cherry, raspberry, and earth.


Red wine is a delicious and versatile ingredient that can add a lot of flavor and depth to beef stew. When choosing a red wine for beef stew, keep in mind the body, tannins, and acidity of the wine. Some of the best red wines for beef stew include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Noir.

The Golden Rule for using red wine in beef stew

Go for a wine that complements the fattiness of your beef for the best possible flavor.

Fatty beef? Look out for a high tannin wine.

If you’re using something thinner, go for a wine with less tannin, like pinot noir.

The best red wine for cooking beef stew

These wines will add richness, flavor, and tenderness to your beef stew:

  • Pinot noir. If you want a fruitier flavor but still want to keep it fairly light, pick up a bottle of this.
  • Merlot. Similar to pinot noir in terms of fruitiness and sweetness, but with a slightly stronger flavor
  • Cabernet sauvignon. If you’re not into sweet and fruity flavors at all, this is the man for you!

A robust beef stew is among the many things in life that taste better when paired with wine. Yes, it adds a richness to your food that it might not have had otherwise. But in addition to impressing your partner or dinner party attendees, it’s also quite healthy and packed with beautiful antioxidants.

Experts in health advise consuming 15 to 30 grams of wine daily, and the Mediterranean Diet heavily incorporates wine consumption. A great way to help with this without going crazy is to add wine to your stew. (Although, yes, drinking what you don’t use is perfectly acceptable. Waste not, want not, right?).

We talk wine, beef stew, and eternal happiness. (Except the last one, but the three are definitely linked. ).

Most wine experts seem to agree that a dry red wine is best when you’re whipping up a beef stew.

Three main types of wine will serve you well. However, the one you select will rely on the flavors you wish to use in your stew. Some find the fruity tang of beef stew to be appealing, while others find it repulsive. While some people prefer meaty goodness throughout, others prefer just a hint of sweetness.

Now that we have the specifics of our contenders, which of these three red wines should you keep an eye out for?

This likely originated in Burgundy in France. It’s a medium-high acidity, low tannin, dry red wine with hints of cherry, raspberry, clove, and hibiscus. It tends to be lighter than many other red wines.

This indicates that it has a hint of spice and is fruity and slightly sweet. This stew is perfect for you if that’s how you like yours!

This grape, also French (its name means “little blackbird” — hehe), is extremely dry and goes well with beef stew.

With medium tannins and moderate acidity, this wine is much bolder than pinot noir and has flavors of chocolate, cherry, and plum. As a result, it will give your stew a much more robust and intense flavor. However, there’s also a pleasant, velvety hint of vanilla that will create an extremely delicious stew.

This completes our trio of French wines; it’s widely consumed and for good reason.

Similar to merlot but with more intensity, cabernet sauvignon is dry but flavorful, with medium tannins and acidity. This is your best option if you’re looking for a really hearty, fruity, and non-sweet taste. The stew tastes rustic with notes of black cherry, blackcurrant, and spices.

So what are these tannin things we’ve been mentioning?

When you drink red wine, you get that dry mouth feeling because of them; the higher the tannin content, the dryer the wine tastes.

But what’s this got to do with beef stew? Well, tannins react with the fat in meat. They break it down, meaning that the flavor of the meat gets released and spread throughout your delicious stew. Oh, what’s that? Even more tastiness? We’ll take it.

Red Wine Beef Stew


What flavor does red wine add to beef?

It can add a delightful tanginess and richness to the sauce, complementing the natural flavors of the meat. Aromatic Elements: Red wine contributes aromatic compounds that can enhance the overall aroma of the dish, making it more appealing and appetizing.

Why does beef stew need red wine?

Many, many recipes call for the use of red wine in meat stews. You are adding an acid, which does several things for the stew: Here are a few things that acid actually does in cooking: Enhances Flavors: Acid can make flavors pop and come alive.

What is the best red wine to cook in beef stew?

Best red wine for cooking beef – Merlot While most medium-dry red wine varietals work well in beef dishes; a Merlot, with its medium tannins and moderate body is an excellent choice. Try it in rich, hearty beef dishes like a stew, braised beef short ribs, or a mid-week spaghetti bolognese.

When should wine be added to stew?

Adding wine to stews is not unknown. Here’s the standard operating procedure used happily for many generations: fry red meat (beef or pork) until the surface is golden; add wine (red or white will do) to the ingredients, close the lid and cook on low heat for a few hours; wait, wait, wait (check your phones); finish!

Is red wine good for beef stew?

So much flavor – Red wine brings out flavors from a hearty beef broth. It has a rich flavor that is enjoyed by the whole family. Great recipe for colder months – While we enjoy this traditional beef stew all year round, it’s especially great in winter because it warms you to the core.

What are the health benefits of having red wine?

Wine contains resveratrol, a compound present mainly in the skins of purple grapes and which has antioxidant properties, which can help prevent some diseases, such as cancer, heart attack, stroke and diabetes. In addition, the other antioxidants present in red wine, such as tannins and flavonoids, also contain prebiotic action, helping to increase the quantity and quality of beneficial bacteria in the intestine, reducing inflammation and helping to strengthen the immune system. However, it is important to remember that excessive wine consumption is harmful and can contribute to some health problems such as alcoholism, cancer and high blood pressure.

Can you put red wine in a stew?

Tomatoes. When you add red wine to a stew, you’re basically adding some notes of acidity and sweetness. Well, tomatoes do that too! A paste or even a carton of tomato juice will work well. Red grape juice. Don’t want to use wine? Then use what red wine used to be before it grew up! Red grape juice will give you a sweet, fruity flavor.

What wine goes with beef stew?

You renegade! Most people agree that cabernet sauvignon is the way to go if you need a red wine to pair with beef stew. With that dry taste thanks to all those tannins, which in turn bring out the flavor of the beef, it won’t get overwhelmed if you’ve have a really hearty stew full of meat and veggies.

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