Global Food Myths #6: Is a red wine sauce non-alcoholic?

LSG Group experts clarify food myths from around the world – Episode 6 is about red wine sauces and its alcohol content.

If you’re the designated driver, chances are that you would opt out of a glass of wine at dinner – but you might not hesitate to eat the main course, even though the duck breast comes dressed in a red wine sauce. After all, the alcohol content in the red sauce would have been cooked off, right? Ricardo Fittipaldi, Culinary Excellence Senior Manager at LSG Sky Chefs Sao Paulo, solves the myth.

“There is no clear answer to this question,” says Fittipaldi. However, it would be extremely rare for a red wine sauce to be completely alcohol-free. Pure alcohol changes from a liquid to a gaseous state at 78.3 degrees Celsius. With mixtures such as wine, however, the boiling point tends to increase depending on the water content. Water does not boil until 100 degrees.

Although it is not possible to make an exact statement, Fittipaldi gives indications: “If a sauce boils for a short time, about 15 percent of the alcohol will evaporate. After 15 minutes on the stove – even on a low flame – around 60 percent would have evaporated and after one hour it’s around 75 percent.”

Even after 120 minutes of cooking time, which is rarely recommended in recipes, the ready-to-serve red wine sauce would probably still contain residues of alcohol. By then, about 95 percent would have evaporated. Ricardo Fittipaldi puts this into perspective: “Red wine is not a ‘hard’ drink, but has an alcohol content of only 12 to 14 percent from the start”.

The “Global Food Myths” is an ongoing series. We will drill down on a specific urban legend about food, drinks or table culture every Friday. Stay tuned for more!

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