Classic French Bordelaise Sauce Recipe

Tenderloin, savory sauce and fork on plate, close-up
Bordelaise and Tenderloin. John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images
  • 20 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins,
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings bordelaise sauce
Ratings (33)

This recipe for bordelaise sauce is a classic French sauce using red wine. The sauce is named after the famous wine-growing region of Bordeaux in Southwest France.

Rich and flavorful, it takes just a small drizzle of bordelaise sauce to perk up a simple, grilled steak or slow-roasted beef. This tangy and savory red-wine sauce also is a great accompaniment to roasted potatoes. 

Traditionally, the sauce would be made using a Bordeaux wine, but wines from that region are some of the most expensive in the world. Barring a Bordeaux, a good-quality dry red wine will suffice. 

The sauce can be made right before serving time, or up to a day in advance, using a special insider's trick to keep a skin from forming over the surface of the bordelaise. Read more about this trick below. 

What You'll Need

  • 3/4 cup dry red wine
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • Salt, to taste
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon cold butter

How to Make It

  1. Place the red wine, shallots, thyme, and bay leaf into a small saucepan set over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil and continue to cook to reduce the contents to half its original volume.
  2. Add the beef stock to the pan and bring the mixture up to a boil again. Skim and discard any foam that appears on top of the sauce using a tablespoon.
  3. Continue cooking the bordelaise until it has thickened enough to coat the back of a  spoon. To check, simply dip a tablespoon into the sauce and swirl it around. Lift the spoon and flip it over to look at the back. The sauce should have coated the spoon but if it quickly runs off, it is not yet thick enough and needs to be cooked more.
  1. Pour the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, to taste. Use the sauce immediately or, if you are holding the sauce for later, lightly rub the cold butter across the hot surface of the sauce, to prevent a skin from forming or lay a piece of greaseproof parchment paper cut to the size of the pan, onto the surface of the sauce. 

Using Wine in Your Cooking

The quality of your bordelaise sauce depends on the wine you use. The rule of thumb on using wine in your cooking is to never cook with wine you would not drink.

Saving old, leftover wine for cooking, or even worse, buying "cooking" wine is a false economy.  If it is not fit to pour into a glass and drink because the taste would not be good, then why will it make your sauce taste good? The short answer is it won't.