How to Make and Use a Port Wine Reduction for Flavor in Cooking

Today, I’m going to show you how to use a port wine reduction to give your dinner a little grown-up spark.

My little J is not interested in sauces:
He does not want any liquid to touch his food (except maple syrup, which he will use to drench anything, even broccoli!).

He does not like dips (unless he’s dipping his fingers in ketchup and then putting them into his mouth for a suck).

Any kind of stew or braise gets a full-body pout and the request, ‘Wash my food off please, Mommy.”

How to Make and Use a Port Wine Reduction for Flavor

Chicken thigh brushed with a simple port reduction and then roasted. Served with a drizzle of the reduction, cheddar-garlic-mash and greens.


I therefore don’t worry about putting a tiny bit of wine into our stews and sauces. Most of the alcohol will boil away and what’s left is unlikely to get near J’s mouth.

What I avoid feeding him are the intensely boozy sauces (not that he would ever seriously consider sampling them anyways).

The good news: These don’t ever touch his food because they’re made separately from the rest of the meal.

The better news: That leaves more for us!
For the chicken pictured way up top and down below: The skin of each thigh was brushed lightly with the port reduction before roasting at 400ºF for 40 minutes, or until skin is between the color of a pine cone and a piece of bitter chocolate and the flesh is no longer pink inside.

How to Make and Use a Port Wine Reduction for added flavor to your cooking.

Follow this great guide to making quick and/or classic pan sauces from The Reluctant Gourmet. Or, try my “recipe” below for an easy port reduction.

I hesitate to call this a recipe since it only contains one ingredient. But it has so many uses that I just had to share it with you.

Incidentally, if you’re a lover of sweet red wine like port wine is, you’ll also want to check out my recipe for Chocolate Lava Cakes with Blackberry Wine Sauce.

Chocolate Lava Cake with Blackberry Wine Sauce for Two


Now it’s time to learn how to use a port wine reduction!

A port wine reduction is a bit like reduced balsamic vinegar, but sweeter, richer, deeper and less acidic. Try a little smear on your plate under some roasted chicken or drizzle a bit over a blue-cheese-topped steak. Speaking of cheese, a tiny bit of this sauce brushed inside a grilled cheese sandwich (cheese: a combo of blue and brie) is nearly as good as mixing a bit with walnut oil on a plate and serving it as a dip for crusty bread served with chunks of cheese. (OMG! I just imagined a grilled cheese sandwich with walnut oil as the fat on the outside and this port sauce on the inside. I feel another post brewing!)

Port Reduction

This will explain the process to make and use a port wine reduction.


  • 1 cup port wine


  1. Measure the port into a medium saucepan. Bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium. Swirl for 10-15 minutes, until about 1/4 cup remains.
  2. Use immediately as a sauce or drizzle or allow it to cool in the pan where it will thicken a bit more. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

9 Responses to “How to Make and Use a Port Wine Reduction for Flavor in Cooking”

  1. What a great tutorial, and the pictures are divine! It was nice meeting you over the weekend, keep up this awesome site.

  2. Binky — April 12, 2011 @ 5:24 pm (#)

    Yummmm! First of all, I never know what to do when people give us port wine as a gift. (It’s not as chuggable as other wines.) I’m so glad to see a use for it on chicken, especially thighs. I also love a moist, tender chicken thigh and the crispy skin after roasting! Thanks for sharing the recipe. ^_^

    • Christine — April 12, 2011 @ 5:49 pm (#)

      You’re welcome, Binky. You’re right that port is a tricky bottle to get through. You can only have a few sips per serving if you’re drinking it. Anything more is a bit overwhelming. Thanks for visiting!

  3. Katerina — April 12, 2011 @ 4:44 pm (#)

    Congratulations on your new site! It looks beautiful. I have already changed your url and became a follower to this one as well. I love port wine and I love to cook with it. This pork looks delicious!

    • Christine — April 12, 2011 @ 4:55 pm (#)

      Thanks Katerina! So happy you like the new site and the look of the recipe.


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