Easy Cranberry & Red Wine Sauce is super simple to make with only three ingredients. Serve warm or cold as the perfect accompaniment to turkey, ham, lamb, pork, and game.
Make your own Cranberry Sauce
I make my own cranberry sauce every year to accompany my Christmas turkey. It’s so easy to make and so much nicer than anything you can buy.
I usually flavour my cranberry sauce with orange and cinnamon which is a delicious combination. This year I wanted to make something a little more grown-up with a rich depth of flavour. I love the rich spicy notes of a full-bodied red wine and they are perfect with the tart cranberries.
Why do Cranberries go so well with rich food?
Cranberries provide the acidity that cuts through the richness of the meats and the red wine adds a depth of flavour that defies the simplicity of the recipe.
The Delia Effect
I don’t remember cranberry sauce on our Christmas table when I was a child. But by the end of the 1970s and into the 1980s it was starting to become universal.
In 1995, Delia Smith, the TV Cook, caused sales of cranberries to rise by 200% after she included them in a duck recipe and suddenly cranberries weren’t just for Christmas or just for turkey dinners.
What are Cranberries?
Cranberries are the tart red fruit of a low-growing perennial plant that is a member of the same species as Scottish heather.
Where do Cranberries grow?
Cranberries are farmed commercially in the Northern United States, Canada and Chile.
Do Cranberries grow in water?
Cranberries don’t grow in water, however, some cranberries are harvested by flooding the fields and then beaten off the bushes using a special harvester. These cranberries are usually used for juice and commercially produced sauce.
The cranberries you buy as whole berries are harvested dry using a different type of picking machine that ‘combs’ the cranberries from the bushes.
What kind of Cranberries should I use for the Easy Cranberry & Red Wine Sauce?
I use fresh cranberries in November and December when they are easily available in greengrocers and supermarkets. I also like to keep a pack or two of frozen cranberries in the freezer to use all year round.
Can I use dried Cranberries?
Dried cranberries are delicious in cakes and bakes like these Cranberry and Sour Cherry Flapjacks. However, they are not suitable for this cranberry sauce recipe because the moisture in the fresh berries adds to the sauce.
What kind of red wine should I use?
Use any full-bodied red wine, such as a Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz would be very suitable.
I use a Portuguese Alicante Bouschet wine to make the sauce and here is the description of its flavours:
- Ripe damson and blackberry with a hint of coffee and cinnamon
- Intense forest fruit with spice and savoury notes
I don’t drink wine, can I use an alternative?
An alternative is likely to reduce the intense fruity and spicy notes which come from the red wine. Try my Quick & Easy Cranberry Sauce recipe which contains no alcohol.
What kind of sugar should I use?
Use regular white granulated sugar or caster (superfine) sugar. I don’t recommend brown sugar for this sauce as it will change the flavour of the sauce.
How sweet is the sauce?
I sweetened the Cranberry & Red Wine Sauce to my tastes. So if you find the sauce too sharp for your taste, add another teaspoon of sugar. However, be careful not to add too much sugar or the sauce will turn into jam.
Can I make the sauce ahead of time?
Yes, you can keep the sauce in the fridge for up to 3 days. Cover the bowl or sauceboat or store in a lidded container. Let it come to room temperature before serving or warm gently in a saucepan if you plan to serve it hot.
Can I freeze Easy Cranberry & Red Wine Sauce?
Yes, you can freeze the cranberry sauce. Let it cool and then freeze it in a lidded container. It will keep for approximately 3 months.
Defrost the sauce overnight in the fridge and then heat gently in a saucepan before serving.
How to make Easy Cranberry & Red Wine Sauce
I can’t recommend this sauce highly enough. It’s super easy to make and tastes incredibly good.
This sauce really couldn’t be easier to make. There are only three ingredients:
- Fresh or frozen cranberries
- Red Wine
Put all the ingredients in the pan
Slowly bring to a boil making sure that all the sugar has dissolved.
Reduce the sauce
Turn down the heat and simmer the sauce until the liquid has reduced by half. Pour or spoon the sauce into a bowl or sauceboat. That’s all there is to it, it is ready to serve.
How to serve Easy Cranberry & Red Wine Sauce
Serve this delicious fruity sauce warm with cooked ham or gammon like this Slow Cooker Ham in Ginger Beer. It is also delicious with Roast Turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas and it also works well with other rich meats like roast lamb and roast pork. It would also be a great sauce to serve with venison, pheasant, and duck.
Serve Cranberry & Red Wine Sauce Cold
Let the sauce cool and serve with cold meats, cheese, and salad. Find out the best way to make sure your ham cuts perfectly when cold with this recipe for Easy Slice Slow Cooker Ham for Cold Cuts.
Easy Cranberry & Red Wine Sauce is also really good on a sandwich like my Best Leftover Turkey Club Sub Sandwich shown above.
Easy Cranberry & Red Wine Sauce
- small saucepan
- weighing scales
- wooden spoon
- measuring jug
- 200 g fresh or frozen cranberries
- 200 ml full-bodied red wine
- 100 g sugar
- Put all the ingredients into a pan, bring slowly to the boil stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
- Simmer vigorously for about 10 minutes with the lid off, until the liquid has reduced by half.
- Spoon the sauce into a bowl or sauce boat.