Red Wine, Mint and Olive Sauce

Rich fish, such as salmon and salmon trout, can be accompanied by red wine quite happily.

Here is the red wine sauce I made to accompany the steamed salmon trout and a delicious bottle of 1979 Chateau Trotanoy. It is a dark, glossy sauce. Whilst fish stock is the usual ingredient for fish sauces, it is by no means de rigueur, and I have often used chicken stock; for this sauce, I used a pale sticky stock made with pig’s trotters. With a meat or vegetable stock, this is also a good sauce for grilled lamb or chicken. Fish stock is not as versatile; it does not taste good in a sauce made to accompany meat, except in one or two very specific recipes such as the crayfish sauce Nantua, which in classical French cookery is served with chicken. Tapenade can replace the olive paste, but will, with its capers and anchovies, give a different flavour.


  • 300 mls (½ pint) good red wine
  • 300 mls (½ pint) stock
  • leaves of 3 or 4 mint sprigs
  • pinch of coarse sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons black olive paste
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 50 g (2 oz) unsalted butter, chilled and diced


Boil the wine and stock until reduced to about 150-200 mls (¼–⅓ pint). Tear up the mint leaves, and crush with the salt in a mortar. Stir it and the olive paste into the sauce. Bring to the boil, and season with the pepper. If the wine is some what acidic, you may, at this point, need to add a pinch of sugar to balance the sauce. Then whisk in the chilled cubes of butter, one or two at a time, until it has all been absorbed by the liquid and you have a quite thick, glossy, emulsified sauce.