The One Ingredient I Add to Gravy That Makes It Unbelievably Better

published Nov 20, 2023
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Joe Lingeman

Everything is a balancing act, not least sauces and gravies. A lot like a painting, using all the same types of colors or flavors and it will be one note, flat, boring. That is why I always add a nip of wine or booze to my gravy.

The acidity and complexity of wine, beer, or liquor can boost and brighten a sauce, think of it like a pop of color in a painting, it might be a small amount, but it can make the whole work of art more interesting.

How To Use Booze To Amp Up Gravy

Choose wisely. The first rule of the boozy gravy club is don’t use anything you wouldn’t drink by itself in your gravy. If it doesn’t taste good on its own, it certainly won’t help your gravy. 

  • Pair with the meat. Don’t pick a strongly flavored booze that will clash with the dish. For chicken gravy, opt for more delicate options like dry white wine (especially the one you plan to serve with the meal), vermouth, or dry hard cider.
  • For darker poultry like goose or turkey, you can go a bit bolder—try bourbon, rye, or Cognac. Beef and pork can handle a little more flavor heft, so consider red wine or even a little sherry or port, just make sure it’s not too sweet or you’ll end up with a cloying gravy instead of a savory masterpiece. 
  • Add as you go. Add just a few tablespoons per cup of gravy, simmer it at a good clip to burn off some of the alcohol, and then taste it before adding more. You should be able to taste it as a cohesive part of the whole sauce, not in a smack-you-palate way.  
  • Adjust the seasoning after you add the booze. At first blush, your gravy may taste flat, and you may be tempted to reach for the salt and pepper. But first add booze, it often fixes the balance, making the sauce more dynamic and less in need of more seasoning.