Cooking With Confidence
redwine_feature
Appetizers, Side Dishes, Vegetarian

Red Wine Syrup

by Nick

When Betsy and I took our honeymoon to Italy, we stayed a few nights at this quaint little farm in Tuscany.  It was a cute town and just very relaxing.

The farm owners would have wine tastings and snacks every day and one day they brought out this homemade stuff called “Mosto Cotto” that they served with hard cheese.

Betsy and I actually brought some back from Italy and enjoyed it later on a date night.

Since then, it has been in the back of my mind to try and recreate the stuff.  So this is my version!

I took one shortcut which I will acknowledge is most definitely cheating, but it still turned out pretty awesome.

Yield
1.5 cups
Prep Time
Total Time

Just a moment please...

Print Recipe Red Wine Syrup

Ingredients

  • 3 cups full-bodied red wine
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon guar gum + 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 pound hard cheese (pecorino is good), cubed for dipping

Directions

1) Add sugar and red wine to a pot and bring to a simmer. Simmer, stirring regularly for about 30 minutes over medium-low heat.

2) In a small bowl, whisk together guar gum with some sugar.

3) While vigorously whisking syrup, slowly add guar gum mixture. Whisk the syrup constantly for 5 minutes until guar gum is well dissolved.

4) Continue to simmer for another 5-10 minutes until the mixture is very thick. When foam or bubbles form, they should stay at he surface briefly even if you remove the pot from the heat.

5) Remove the syrup from the heat and let cool for a few minutes. Once it's cooled slightly, transfer to a bowl and allow to cool slowly.

6) If you notice that the syrup is getting to thick and starts to actually gel, stir in another tablespoon of red wine to loosen it up.

7) Once syrup is thick and room temperature, pour it over hard cheese or dip cheese in the syrup.

Boiling Wine

I remember asking the farm owner in Italy how they made the Mosto Cotto that we loved so much.  From what I could tell, this is how they did it:

1) Take a huge amount of red wine – like gallons.
2) Boil it for about a day, stirring it regularly.
3) Bottle it

The problem is that the wine has to reduce so much to make a syrup that if you just did one bottle, you would simmer it for hours and hours and be left with maybe 1/2 cup of syrup.

And come on… who wants to stir something for a day?  Not this guy!

So I upped my ingredient list from one to three.

At first I felt dirty about this, but later on, as I was enjoying my awesome red wine syrup, I became comfortable with the scandal.

ingredients

Sugar and wine basically.

GUAR!

This stuff is not named after the sweet metal band.  It is named after a simple legume that has some pretty amazing powers.

It turns out that guar is some of the most powerful natural thickener around.  It’s crazy how little you have to use to get some serious thickening.  You can find this stuff in most grocery stores these days.  I found this bag in my normal everyday grocery store.  You can also order it online.

guar

Crazy stuff.

Starting the Boil

While you could just basically add the guar to the wine and have instant syrup, I still wanted to boil it for a bit just to melt some sugar in it and also boil off most of the alcohol.

So just add the sugar and wine to a pot and bring it to a simmer.

wine

Red red wine!

I recommend cooking this on medium-low heat for about 30 minutes to cook off the booze and also dissolve the sugar completely.

It won’t be even close to thick enough to make a syrup at this point though.

Like I said, you could continue simmering it and it would probably take 90 minutes to boil it all the way down, but you would be left with very little syrup.

reducing

Just a quick simmer…

Adding the Guar

Adding the guar gum to the liquid is actually a bit tricky.  This stuff is so powerful that if you where to just add it in its pure form, it would gel to itself and just form annoying little balls that would forever live in your syrup.

That is not ideal.

The way to avoid this is to mix the guar with some sugar to thin it out a bit.  You can then add this mixture to the syrup without worry.

guar

Doesn’t take much.

When you’re adding the guar, whisk the syrup constantly and add the sugar/guar mixture in a slow stream.

Keep stirring and whisking like crazy once the guar is added so it dissolves completely.  It will look like a ridiculously small amount of guar for this amount of liquid, but trust me… it’s more than enough.

After about five minutes of simmering, you’ll notice that your mixture starts to thicken quickly.  It’s done is when bubbles form on the surface that stay on the surface.  Even if you remove the pot from the  heat, the bubbles will stay for a few seconds meaning that the syrup is pretty thick.

syrup

Sturdy bubbles.

Cool it Down

Add the syrup to a small bowl or dish and let it slowly start to cool down to room temperature.

Quick Tip: Wash your cooking pot immediately!  Any syrup that’s left in the pan will pretty much solidify on it and be very hard to clean off once it has cooled.

Meanwhile your syrup will continue to thicken…

cooling

Really thick!

Too Thick!

Guar gum is hard stuff to work with because it’s so powerful.  It’s like trying to mow your lawn with napalm.  It’ll work, but probably too well.

As your syrup cools, if you notice that it’s getting too thick and starting to gel into a solid, stir in a tablespoon or two of fresh red wine and that will loosen it up.  I had to do this with mine because I was worried that it was getting too thick.

I really loved my finished texture though.  It was smooth and silky, but still pretty thick.  It would stick to stuff easily.

finger

Yum.

What to Dip?

This syrup is good on lots of things in my mind:  ice cream, some sort of brownie, maybe even pancakes!

I just did one thing with it though… I dipped hard cheese in it which is what we learned to do with the Italian stuff.

cheese

Any hard cheese is good.

This is a really fun appetizer and people will gobble it up.  Just cube up some cheese and drizzle on a good amount of the syrup.

close up

Really good!

Like I said though, I think this syrup has more applications than just cheese.  It’s slightly tangy and sweet and just has a really unique and awesome flavor.

Guar gum is fun.  I think I’ll keep experimenting with it since they sell it in huge bags compared to how much you would ever use.

Anybody used guar gum before?

What did you do with it?

Share this post!

20 comments on “Red Wine Syrup

  1. I just used guar gum this AM in a smoothie. Makes it really nice and thick. Just a dash makes it almost spoon worthy but still straw drinkable. I’ve also attempted to use it in gluten free baking which has yet to turn out into something edible. Pretty sure this has nothing to do with the gum and everything to do with the flours (or me). Great post. So different. I’m loving the idea of saucy cheese.

    1. Gluten-free baking is really tricky, and we’ve found that normally, if it doesn’t turn out, it’s either that we left out an ingredient, or expected the dough to feel like normal gluten-containing dough. The biggest tip I got with gluten-free is “the dough will always feel like it needs more flour, but DO NOT ADD MORE FLOUR!” :) It’s always really sticky, you need to keep your hands wet while dealing with it, and use good quality silicone utensils. Once baked, however, it comes out great!

  2. I think I would use xanthan gum instead with this, just because we have it on hand. My wife has celiac disease, so we have to eat gluten-free, and xanthan and guar gums are both common binding agents used in place of the gluten in wheat. We’ve used it for cookies, brownies, fudge, biscotti, cake, bread, pie crust…but not sauce! (yet!)

  3. I have only made red wine syrup the hard way, sans guar gum, so I’ll have to give this a try (and then tune back in to see what else you can do with massive quantities of guar gum. Why DO they sell it in such huge bags?). In the mean time, if you need something else to do with red wine syrup, pouring it over some segmented oranges is awesome! Especially if you have glass bowls or cups to serve it in to show of the pretty colors.

  4. Can one use guar gum in place of gelatine to set desserts? Is it translucent when boiled or opaque? Thanks in advance. I’m vegetarian and hate to use gelatine to set my cheesecakes and parfaits….
    R

      1. I make cheesecakes that are set rather than baked. Much lighter and yummier :) . They are also fruit based, so the taste of the fruit comes through. Mango and passion fruit , lychee, oranges and lemon etc.

        Loved your post on the cleaning liquids. Made the all purpose cleaner. It’s really good. Haven’t found washing soda here in Singapore though.

        R

  5. No guar gum in my local stores, so after checking online I decided to try cornstarch. I put 1/4 C extra wine in a cup and stirred in 2 or 3 T of cornstarch. I spooned it in after cooking the syrup about 45 minutes and whisked it vigorously before cooking an additional few minutes. It was a great consistency when it cooled.
    At our Superbowl dinner with friends we dribbled it over cubes of sharp cheddar for appetizers, licking our fingers after every bite, and then poured it over raspberry sorbet for dessert.
    Thanks for a Super recipe we’ll use a lot!

      1. We warmed it up a bit before spooning it on the sorber, so it was a little chewy, kind of like taffy, once it cooled on the sorbet. We think next time we’ll use less thickener for ice cream purposes.

  6. I just made this using red wine and brown sugar, no guar. It thickened up nicely and didn’t take too long at all. Does brown sugar have some sort of thickening agent, or work better for this?

  7. The lychee has a history and cultivation going back as far as 2000 BC according to records in China. Cultivation began in the area of southern China, Malaysia, and Vietnam. Wild trees still grow in parts of southern China and on Hainan Island. There are many stories of the fruit’s use as a delicacy in the Chinese Imperial Court. It was first described and introduced to the west in 1782.^*”;

    Our personal web page
    <http://homefamilydigest.com/index.php/

  8. Great article. I opened a bottle of sweet red wine (a large bottle) and didn’t drink it because it was too sweet. Do you think I could use that wine in this recipe and use less sugar? I understand you can cook with old wine….

    1. Sure Cheryl! Should be just fine. You’re right though… I would half the sugar in the recipe since the wine is already sweet. Should be fine though! Good luck!

Leave a Comment