3 Things You Should Know About Wine Marinades

Wine Marinades

Marinades are typically used either for tenderizing or enriching the flavor of any meat. Oil, spices, and herbs focus on adding flavor, while acidity helps in breaking down sinewy tissues in the meat, making it tenderized before cooking. 

However, you can achieve all of it using a single ingredient. Whether you’re aiming for a world-class dining or a simple cafeteria-style experience, wines can help you accomplish both meat’s rich flavor and tenderness. Listed here are a few things you should know about wine marinades. 


The overall taste of your meal will come from the combination of ingredients you choose. Hence, there’s a need to know about the ingredients that complement each other, and those who don’t. It’s similar to selecting the best food pairing for your wine.

As mentioned, the essential components of a marinade include acid, fat, spices, and herbs and aromatics. Here’s a shortlist of ingredients that you can use for every component of any marinade: 

  • Acid – vinegar, lemon and other acidic fruit juices, dijon mustard, buttermilk, tomato paste or puree, Worcestershire sauce, honey, agave, and wine
  • Fat/oil – butter and other varieties of oils, like peanut, walnut, grade speed, flax, sesame, and olive oils 
  • Spices – salt, cumin, pepper, black pepper, white pepper, red pepper, red pepper flakes, paprika, chili powder, cayenne powder, mustard powder, onion powder, curry powder or paste, tandoori powder or paste, coriander, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg 
  • Herbs and aromatics – rosemary, thyme, shallots, garlic, oregano, parsley, sage, scallions, gingers, chiles, wasabi, carrots, horseradish, bay leaves, and celery 


The amount of acid, fat, spices, and herbs and aromatics depends on how big the meat that you’re going to marinate. There’s one thing you should note, though. The amount of acid and oil that you’re going to use should be sufficient in immersing the meat in a container or zip-locked. 

Zesty white wine or champagne are two examples of wines with higher acid. Conversely, oaked Chardonnay, Carignan, or Malbec can be used for less acidic wines. For other options, you can check the fine wines for sale on Sokolin’s online site and their level of acidity. 

Most people would use half a cup to one cup of wine and ¼ to half a cup of oil. Here’s a low-down of a typical measurement of every component: 

  1. Acid – ½ to one cup of wine
  2. Fat/oil – ½ cup of oil 
  3. Spices – ½ teaspoon to two tablespoons
  4. Herbs and aromatics – ½ to two tablespoons

Again, we used wine as a base flavor and tenderizer here. However, it doesn’t mean that you have to stop there. If you’re into more concentrated flavors, you can add vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, or vinegar. For this, you only need ¼ of a cup. If you want to make it more pungent, you can add two tablespoons of overly-sweet honey or Dijon mustard. 

Moreover, adding cloves of garlic and strip of zest is fine too, but no more than three strips for each. Adding these two can help in increasing the volume of the marinade and submerging the meat entirely. 

Lastly, if you want your marinade to be more aromatic, adding two teaspoons of herbs will suffice. Otherwise, use half a teaspoon only. However, there are some cases when you only need a pinch of any herbs, depending on how pungent or sharp their flavors. It’s best if you can taste and measure them first before adding them to the marinade. 

Length of time in marinating

There’s a difference between acidic (e.g., wine, vinegar, citrus) and enzymatic (e.g., papaya, kiwifruit, pineapple) marinades. This distinction is related to how long the meat would be soaked in the marinade. Acidic marinades can add flavor but may toughen, whereas enzymatic marinades can make the meat too mushy.

However, this doesn’t always happen as long as you know the recommended length of time in marinating. Let’s say we are dealing with an inch or less thick cut of any meat. Here’s how long you should marinate the meat: 

  1. Overnight – beef (roast, flank or brisket), lamb (rack)
  2. 2-4 hours – steak, lamb chops, pork chops, whole chicken (preferably, four hours)
  3. 2-3 hours – mushrooms and eggplants, chicken thighs, thigh or legs
  4. 1-2 hours – stew (beef) and tofu (extra-firm style)
  5. 30 minutes – fish steak (salmon or others)
  6. 15 minutes – fish fillets (salmon or others) 
  7. 5-10 minutes – shellfish (crab, lobsters, mollusks, and others)


Wine marinated meat is best when roasted, sautéd, or baked. Cook the marinated meat as soon as you let out from the fridge. Don’t let it sit out for 20 minutes or so. You may use the marinade to serve as a base for a sauce, but bring it to a full boil. Never ever use the marinade as a raw sauce. Also, do not ever use the marinade twice. Remember, food safety comes first.