How can I improve the color of Coq au Vin? It turns out grayish-purple.

  • Posted by: C G
  • January 6, 2015


kimhw January 7, 2015
I always use white now.
Nancy January 7, 2015
If you like the taste of coq au vin better with red wine but can't fix the color problem, try topping them with a garnish (like dumplings) to make serving the dish more visually appealing.
Meaghan F. January 6, 2015
Have you tried reducing the wine before adding the chicken, rather than reducing it at the end after removing the chicken? I read this in a recipe once but naturally can't remember from where/whom.
C G. January 7, 2015
I've not, but it's a good idea. Thanks! I've also wondered if certain types of wine are more "staining" than others. It seems so when drinking red wine.
bigpan January 6, 2015
Believe it or not, a bit of beet juice will sharpen the red wine color you want and not change the flavour - just don't use too much.
C G. January 6, 2015
Good idea - thanks!
keg72 January 6, 2015
I'm stuck on your use of the word "grayish" because I've never had a problem with coq au vin taking on that hue. Two thoughts that would steer the dish in a richer color direction. First, are you using tomato paste? That would help the color and amp up the flavor, particularly if you let it caramelize a bit before stirring it into the other ingredients. Second, are you browning your chicken pieces sufficiently? Doing so not only will give the chicken itself a nice, rich hue, but it'll also leave behind some nice brown bits that, eventually, will make their way into the sauce.
C G. January 6, 2015
Thank you! I did brown the chicken (perhaps not enough) and used tomato paste. I'm also wondering if my black cast iron dutch oven may have left a residue on the chicken.
Susan W. January 6, 2015
CG, I think maybe the red wine and cast iron reacted. To be honest, I prefer it made with a dry white wine, but if you love the flavor, you may try it in a ceramic pot. I'm sort of guessing here.
Megan January 6, 2015
I agree with Susan's guess about the reaction with the cast iron pot. I have had that experience before with cast iron and the food was a very off-putting dark grayish color. When I've made coq au vin in a non-cast iron pot the color has never been quite so dark and gray.
Patricia January 6, 2015
A few drops of Kitchen Bouquet gravy browning ? I know, not perfect, but ever since my grand-daughter said: "Nana, I just love that grey meat," I've been adding to to my tourtiere filling! And it does look more appetizing. I love coq au vin (French Canadian) & sympathize re the drab purple sauce.
C G. January 6, 2015
Thank you!
Pegeen January 6, 2015
Yep. Or a teaspoon of Maggi liquid seasoning, or a beef bouillon cube, liquified.
HalfPint January 6, 2015
I don't think you can do much about the color. A traditional coq au vin uses red wine. The grayish-purple is the result of oxidation of the wine. If the color is throwing you off, you could try to make Coq Au Riesling which uses a white wine, dry riesling, so you wouldn't have the color issue. Here's a good recipe,
C G. January 6, 2015
Thank you! Have you made this? Was it as good as the traditional red wine version? I remember Julia Child mentions Coq au Riesling in her cookbook.
HalfPint January 6, 2015
Yes, I have tried this recipe. It's good, just make sure that the riesling is dry. Personally, I've never liked traditional coq au vin, since I'm not much of a red wine drinker.
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