Bobby Flay Revamps Barbecue Sauce With A Red Wine Twist

Bobby Flay is no stranger to putting his own spin on classic dishes, often ramping up the flavor in the process. When it comes to homemade barbecue sauce, though, there's one surprising ingredient that the chef believes takes it to the next level: red wine.

Wine is not usually an add-on associated with barbecue sauce in the same way that bourbon is; it's much more common to see a recipe for Tennessee whiskey barbecue sauce. But, red wine is often used to make other sauces and reductions that accompany red meat, plus it goes brilliantly when served with grilled proteins such as steak. So, it's not really that much of a leap to see why it works so well in a barbecue sauce.

There's another advantage, too. You can get more sensation out of spicy foods with a strategic red wine pairing, and many barbecue dishes (as well as barbecue sauces) have an element of heat. Flay serves his sauce with a ribeye steak that has been coated in a spice rub, and the wine naturally boosts the flavor of the meat-and-heat combo.

Pinot Noir adds extra depth to barbecue sauce

Bobby Flay prefers to use Pinot Noir for his red wine barbecue sauce. Pinot Noir is more expensive than most wines, partly because it is so difficult to grow, but there's no doubt that it pairs beautifully with red meat. Plus, you only need a small amount for Flay's sauce; he uses just 1 cup to make a sauce that serves four, so it leaves plenty leftover for drinking alongside the meal.

The flavor of the light red wine, with fruity notes of cherries and berries, complements the other sweet, tangy, smoky, and spicy flavors present in barbecue sauce. Flay's recipe has an aromatic base of shallots and garlic and the red wine is reduced with a mixture of ketchup, Dijon mustard, chipotle puree, brown sugar, paprika, ancho chile powder, cayenne, Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, honey, and molasses for a punchy combination. If you don't want to splurge on Pinot Noir, Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon would also work well.

The rich, dark red barbecue sauce is incredibly versatile, and can be served alongside the meat, or brushed across the cooked exterior crust for a glossy glaze. And while Flay serves it with steak, it could go equally well with other barbecued meats, from succulent ribs to tender brisket.

Flay adds other ingredients to revamp store-bought barbecue sauce

It's not just homemade barbecue sauce that the classically trained chef likes to elevate; Bobby Flay is also partial to upgrading a bottle of the store-bought stuff with a few additional ingredients. When it comes to his favorite brands, Bone Suckin' Sauce is the barbecue sauce Bobby Flay always keeps in his pantry, but in his typical style, he likes to add his own twist to really enhance the flavor.

As with the red wine twist, the key to revamping barbecue sauce in general is to amplify flavors that already exist in the condiment. Most sauces have a tangy element, and Flay likes to add Worcestershire sauce to bring on even more tart notes as well as an umami hit from the salty anchovies it contains. The chef also boosts the smoky, spicy side of the sauce by adding in canned chipotle puree, and he squeezes in some fresh lime juice to bump up the acidity of the vinegar while also lending a brighter finish.

Rather than just stirring the add-ins into a cold sauce, Flay first heats the sauce in a pan to help the ingredients combine better, letting it all simmer with the lid on for around 10 minutes. And the result is a rich, smoky, sweet-yet-spicy sauce that could almost be homemade, but with much less effort.