This Is the Best Red Wine for Beef Stew

This Is the Best Red Wine for Beef Stew

Few things help to bring out the flavor of a good beef stew like the perfect red wine. However, if you’re new to cooking or even experimenting with a new recipe, deciding what wine to use can be tricky.   

Choosing Your Wine

Choosing the best red wine for beef stew is an art. An inexpensive red wine may result in a less flavorful dish but that’s no reason to rush to the extreme opposite end of the price range, either. After all, cooking reduces alcohol levels with time, and a good beef stew takes time—lots of it. You’re much better off drinking that expensive red and opting for something in the $8-10 price bracket. Affordable, flavorful and guarantees a rich beef stew. 

red wine for beef stew

What Not to Do 

When choosing the best red wine for beef stew, it might be tempting to consider a cooking wine.  Resist the temptation; cooking wines are higher in salt, and the quality is often inferior to other wines. There’s no reason for you to cook with anything less than a good wine. If you wouldn’t drink a glass of it, don’t put it in your cooking! 

If you’re unsure what the best wine for beef stew might be, pick a dry red wine you know from experience you enjoy. 

That said, you’ll want to avoid delicate wines like pinot noir for your stew. Stew is deliberately heavy and hearty, designed to fill you up on a cold winter evening. You want a wine that rises to that challenge and complements the recipe. Our advice is for a dry red wine, such as: 

  • Merlot
  • Cabernet 
  • Shiraz 
  • Zinfandel

Cooking With Red Wine 

Dry wine works best as a companion to beef stew, but whatever red wine type you choose, it’s important to remember that cooking alters wine. Cooking is effectively chemistry, and the kind of prolonged heat exposure that occurs when cooking beef stew is always going to cause changes. 

Individual tasting notes almost always get lost in culinary translation, while the acidity and fruitiness of the red wine type become more pronounced. All told, there’s a lot less nuance to cooking with wine than drinking it. 

Since pronounced notes like fruitiness become more exaggerated in cooking, these wines are perfect when you want to add sweetness to a sauce. That may not be to taste when preparing beef stew with red wine, though; if not, choose a dry red wine instead. 

red wine for beef stew

The Right Meat for the Right Wine

Red wine types aren’t your only consideration when preparing beef stew. Choosing the right kind of meat is as important as selecting the best red wine for cooking. You’ll want something that stands up to a long cooking time and absorbs the flavors of wine and sauce as they intensify. 

Stew meat, which is inexpensive and pre-cut, works well for the purpose. Generally, in rounds or chunks and cut into cubes, it is tough and requires a long, slow cooking time. It’s perfect for your beef stew with red wine.  

How to Make a Beef Stew With Red Wine

To do your beef stew with red wine justice, you need a Dutch oven or other suitable sturdy pot with a tight-fitting lid. Something like a La Crusette’s long-lasting pot is a great choice, but a slow cooker is another good option. 

Pot selected, make sure your stewing meat is cut in 1-inch cubes and dust with flour before browning lightly in the pot and setting aside. 

Then add:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • garlic cloves

Stir constantly to keep them from burning for 1-2 minutes. 

Recipes vary, but they all agree that the red wine for your beef stew goes in once you have browned and removed the beef. At the same time, add:

  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp beef stock
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • browned beef

Leave simmering for 5 minutes and then add:

  • 1 ½ cups celery
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 ½ cups carrots
  • 3 cups russet potatoes that have been peeled and cubed

Make sure the pot comes to a boil before lowering the heat and covering. You can then leave the stew to simmer for 2 hours, occasionally stirring. 

red wine for beef stew

To thicken the broth and guarantee it’s extra filling, you’ll want to make and mix in gravy. This will help thicken the broth, making for a hearty winter meal. 

To do this, make a cornstarch slurry by mixing cornstarch and cold water as a thickening agent. 

Mix in what’s left of the wine, which should be approximately ¼ cup, with 3 tbsp of cornstarch, and stir until the cornstarch is completely absorbed. Mix into the stew on medium heat, then bring the pot back up to a gentle simmer. 

Red Wines to Have With Beef Stew 

Once your red wine with beef stew is ready to serve, there’s no reason you shouldn’t pair it with a glass of red wine. After all, this homey, comforting dish is as good a reason as any to crack open a full-bodied bottle of red wine.


The dark fruits of this blend, coupled with strong tannins, are a beautiful complement to beef stew. 

Argentinian Malbec

Earthy and full-bodied, these wines make a perfect companion to beef, whether as a steak or a stew. Malbec is reasonably priced but also includes some more expensive options that justify the expense. After all, you’re drinking this wine, not cooking with it. 


If you’re still feeling unsure about the best red wine for beef stew, choose a dry red wine you enjoy drinking, ensure the flavors that come out of the stew and that strengthen while simmering are ones you are already predisposed to like. 


  • The best red wine for beef stew doesn’t have to put you in debt
  • Avoid wines labeled as cooking wines 
  • Dry red wines work best 
  • Cooking alters taste 

Keep these things in mind, and the result is bound to be a beef stew with red wine that will leave people asking for seconds and even thirds. 

Still not sure which wine to choose? Consider one of these heart-healthy options.

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