What to CookEditors' PicksGenius RecipesWeeknight CookingDIY FoodSaladsWine

Molly Wizenberg & Brandon Pettit's Red Wine Vinaigrette

136 + Save

If you like it, save it!

Save and organize all of the stuff you love in one place.

Got it!

If you like something…

Click the heart, it's called favoriting. Favorite the stuff you like.

Got it!

Every week -- often with your help -- Food52's Executive Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: How to make your salad taste like a million bucks.

A vinaigrette is only as good as the pantry it comes from, we think: mediocre vinegar and oil beget mediocre dressing, a salad that you finish only out of obligation, a dinner you won't remember.

That's only half the story though. Sure, if you have gravity-pressed olive oil and cider vinegar made from heritage apples, you are all but guaranteed a good salad.

But sometimes you need to work with the pantry or grocery store that you're dealt, and you can still have a good salad -- thanks to a simple hack from Molly Wizenberg and Brandon Pettit of Seattle's Delancey restaurant (and bar Essex and blog Orangette). You don't need to buy anything fancy. You probably don't need to buy anything at all.


"It's just a good little trick to have up your sleeve -- especially around this time of year, when people are on vacation and staying at Airbnb houses or whatnot and find themselves with only crappy vinegar in the cabinet." Wizenberg told me. The secret? "Just pull out the dregs of last night's red wine! Voila."

Yes, wine. Pettit discovered this trick after he ran out of the vinegar he'd made himself and grocery store brands didn't live up. A little red wine isn't enough to make your salad taste boozy, but rounds out the rough edges, "making up for imperfections in your vinegar," as Wizenberg writes in her new memoir Delancey.

More: Learn another genius trick for zhushing up balsamic vinaigrette.


This is a good starter vinaigrette -- there's so much mustard here that the dressing practically emulsifies itself, the Dijon taking up all the oil in a big, unhesitating bear hug. And because there are no fresh herbs or shallot or garlic to turn on you, a jar of this will keep in the fridge indefinitely.

While this trick will enhance any flimsy vinegar, you do want to pay closer attention to one ingredient: Dijon can swing a lot of directions, and with this much it swings hard. That's not to say you need to buy anything particularly expensive -- but you'll have the best, most Molly-and-Brandon-like results if you use Roland Extra Strong, Beaufor, or Edmond Fallot for this recipe.

More: Another genius recipe from Delancey? Molly Wizenberg's Rice Noodle Salad.

But don't stop there! Pettit also likes to reinforce white wine vinegar with a splash of dry bubbly, and he wants to try apple cider vinegar and a sour beer (like Duchesse de Bourgogne) next.

Where will you take yours?

Molly Wizenberg & Brandon Pettit's Red Wine Vinaigrette

Adapted slightly from Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage (Simon & Schuster, 2014)

Makes about 1/2 cup

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (preferably Roland Extra Strong, Beaufor, or Edmond Fallot)
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons red wine
Pinch of fine sea salt
Pinch of sugar
1/4 cup olive oil

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected].

The Genius Recipes cookbook is here! (Well, almost.) You can now pre-order it on Provisions to get a signed copy in April, plus 3 pretty recipe cards to wrap up in time for the holidays. Find out more about the book here!

Photo of Molly and Brandon by Faith Durand; all other photos by James Ransom

Tags: genius, how-to & diy, everyday cooking, molly wizenberg, brandon pettit, vinaigrette, salad, dressing, delancey, mustard, wine, vinegar

💬 View Comments ()

Comments (23)


about 1 year ago catbirdx

Hmmm...lots of mixed reactions here (and more good recipes)! I usually keep a jar of homemade dressing of one sort or another in the refrigerator but found myself without any last night and decided to give this a try. I loved it. My only change (just because it's what I had available on the spur of the moment) was to use balsamic vinegar instead of red wine vinegar. Loved the result and had it again at lunch today. I'm sure many of the suggested additions would be delicious, but this is lovely as is. Thanks Molly & Brandon & Kristen!


about 1 year ago AJD8129

Made this last night following the recipe exactly and it was great!
Yes the mustard component is strong, but it works well with the other ingredients, and it means you get a lot of flavor without adding a ton of dressing to the salad - which is the way it should be, right? This is definitely going to become a standby.


about 1 year ago Donna C.

Used 1 1/2 tbsp. of Dijon and 2 Tsp. of Ruby Red Port...amazing! I added green onions to my salad greens to compensate for lack of shallots.


about 1 year ago I_Fortuna

I agree that it is way too much mustard and some tarragon and shallots would be more desirable. The oil seems like a lot for only 1 1/2 Tbs. of vinegar but that may be because I use Bragg's apple cider vinegar that is seems not so acidic. The wine, if it is good is o.k. but can offer a bitter note in a salad dressing if it is not good quality. I do add a dash of white pepper so my dressing has a little snap to it. Personally I just eyeball my dressing and it always comes out the same. I usually only measure when baking or making a recipe for the first time and even then I tweak it.


about 1 year ago JadeTree

This is a fun tip! This will be great in winter when the red wine is plentiful and the fresh herbs less in evidence.


about 1 year ago Carol Higgins

Needs garlic and onions and Italian seasoning.


about 1 year ago Alyce Morgan

Lots of great ideas here...including the original recipe! I think what really whips a green salad into shape, though, is a big squeeze of fresh lemon juice followed by salt and pepper and a good toss-- before the vinaigrette is added.


about 1 year ago bobbe

great tip!


about 1 year ago Beth Appel

I think a lot of folks missed the premise of this recipe - you are in a summer rental or borrowed kitchen without control over ingredients. I too would use less mustard only because I like a little, not a lot, and if the rental had a good mustard, great, but often there is only yellow paint (to use my son's term for the common yellow mustard).


about 1 year ago sel

the dressing was a little too thick....it was because of the mustard, i cut
half it back and the results were much better.....may i also ingest the idea
of adding a bit of cane sugar to this....believe me it taste so much better.
Just noticed the idea of powdered mustard, great input....it works nicely and
not such a thick dressing.....


about 1 year ago june combs

Hi Kristen ~ I heard the pioneer woman whip 1 lb of soft butter and maybe 8 blackberries barely mixed in at the end wrap in celephane and foil and freeze. I added coconut sugar and cinnamon. I loved it. Mostly I loved the texture of whipped butter you end up using a lot less butter/calories which is important to me! I think I'm whipping 1/2 lb butter adding minced garlic and rosemary next time? Whipped butter in my stand up mixer is awesome! I love it! I also love your blog....thanks j


about 1 year ago viviancooks

omg! where are the shallots?!?


about 1 year ago Rainbowcottagesinfrance.com

For me, cider vinegar, olive oil, honey, salt, pepper, English mustard powder and a pinch of sugar. Shake together vigorously in a screw topped jar and keeps in the fridge if necessary. So quick to make I always try to make the right amount.


about 1 year ago Marian Bull

I love how pink the end result is! I can't wait to try this, especially now that I have more reason *not* to finish an entire bottle of wine by myself in two days.


about 1 year ago Summer of Eggplant

I like to add fresh herbs and a little salt to liven up my salads.


about 1 year ago Sera Seo Jin Jeong

Is it possibile to use other vinegars (e.g. balsamic, white wine) in the recipe instead of red wine vinegar?


about 1 year ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Wine also takes pickles to a new level - I learned that from Paul Virant's outstanding "Preservation Kitchen." ;o)


about 1 year ago Horto

where are you putting wine in pickles? in the process, that is!


about 1 year ago Lisa

After years of trial and error, the secret to my success was thanks to Ina Garten, who calls for champagne vinegar in her Vinaigrette for Green Salad:

1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. minced fresh garlic
3 TB champagne vinegar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Et voila!


about 1 year ago Lisa

Whoops! forgot a very important detail: 1/2 cup olive oil!!!


about 1 year ago Keren

Reminds me of an old, very easy favorite dressing: 1 part red wine, 1 part lemon juice, 1 part olive oil, minced garlic to taste, S&P. Can be mixed directly in the jar and keeps like a dream.


about 1 year ago Sharyn Guthrie

Dijon, fresh garlic, and tarragon is my favorite vinaigrette.


about 1 year ago JohnL

Your favorite vinaigrette reminds me of one of my favorites. Several years ago I happened to try one of Ken Hom's recipes from his East-West cookbook. I'm posting his recipe for Cold Tomato Cubes Tossed in Tarragon and Sesame Oil. What a genius he is to think of combining Asian sesame oil with fresh tarragon. It's not hard to throw together and I just love it. It always tastes as wonderful as the first time tried it.