Appetizers/ Beef/ Recipes

Mini Meatballs in Pinot Noir Sauce

I’m a big fan of mini meatballs at parties.

Let’s pause for a moment and just appreciate the meatball…which, in my opinion, has kind of taken second stage in the past couple years to those fancy schmancy cheese plates. You know, the type that are displayed on slate with little chalkboard captions? Those are lovely. However, few things beat a really good meatball platter. Unlike fancy cheese and crackers, which tend to break apart as you eat them and cast expensive little crumbs all over your shirt, the meatball is quickly just popped into your mouth! No fuss and no mess. Plus, you can totally be discreet about how many you eat because they go down so fast. Did I mention they go great with wine and soak up alcohol so party guests don’t get too boozy? I chose mini sausage balls as an appetizer for our wedding for just that reason.

This is another recipe I created for Barefoot. I had so much fun playing with different variatals and have a few more recipes coming your way in the next few weeks. For this one, I wanted to create an easy, super delicious appetizer that could be served at home watching a football game or at a fancy office party. No matter the question, the answer is always meatballs.

Okay, I’ll admit it: I may or may not have been sipping while I cooked. I liked this wine a lot, and I liked that it was under $10 even more.

These savory little guys are baked and then drizzled with a slightly sweet Pinot Noir sauce. The secret? Grape jelly. Just a touch! When I was developing this recipe, I kept tasting the sauce as I cooked and kept thinking, “this is good but it really needs just a little something to make it stand out”. Then, I remembered my mom making Swedish meatballs with lingdonberry jam {kinda like a red currant} on Christmas Eve when I was growing up and that’s what led me to try adding the grape jelly. It added the perfect amount of sweetness without going overboard…plus, it went with the wine theme! Bam.

Serve at parties! Or for dinner with some mashed potatoes and green beans. Why not?

Mini Meatballs in Pinot Noir Sauce

Makes about 35 mini meatballs

Print this Recipe!


1 lb ground beef, about 15% lean

1/3 cup milk

1/3 cup breadcrumbs

1 tsp salt

1 shallot, minced

¼ tsp pepper

½ minced shallot

¾ cup Barefoot Pinot Noir

1 cup water

1 tsp cornstarch

1 ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp grape jelly

1 tbsp butter


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a large casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

Combine the ground beef, minced shallot, salt, pepper, milk and breadcrumbs together in a large bowl. Mix well until completely combined.  Form small meatballs out of the beef mixture and place in the casserole dish. Bake for 20 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through.

While the meatballs are cooking, make the sauce.

Combine the wine, water, cornstarch and half a minced shallot in a large pan over medium high heat. Bring to a simmer and continue simmering for about 10-15 minutes.

Add the grape jelly and Worcestershire sauce to the wine mixture. Stir well. Finally, add the butter to the sauce and stir to combine and melt. Continue simmering the sauce for about six to eight minutes, or until sauce thickens greatly.

Pour sauce over cooked meatballs and serve.


45 minutes

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  • rachel
    January 16, 2013 at 3:36 am

    could you make medium or larger meatballs to have for dinner?

    • jenna
      January 16, 2013 at 12:04 pm


  • Becky @ Olives n Wine
    January 16, 2013 at 3:56 am

    Wine in a meatball recipe? Genius! I am serving these at my next cocktail party!

  • Anne
    January 16, 2013 at 4:30 am

    Perfect! I have been searching all week for a good meatball recipe but most seem pretty much the same. The Pinot Noir is such a delicious sounding twist, I cannot wait to give these a try!

  • Alaina @ Fabtastic Eats
    January 16, 2013 at 4:45 am

    oh my! what a genius idea!

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat
    January 16, 2013 at 4:46 am

    I’m with you on the meatball lovin’! Since I’m not a red meat eater, I always get a little disappointed when the ones served as appetizers are made of beef, but if they’re made of turkey I’m a very happy girl! 🙂 This sauce sounds divine!

  • Michelle @ Eat Move Balance
    January 16, 2013 at 4:46 am

    I’ve been looking for ways to cook with leftover wine. This sounds excellent! Thanks!

    • Beth
      January 16, 2013 at 5:33 am

      Left over wine??? Doesn’t happen much at my house. 🙂

  • DessertForTwo
    January 16, 2013 at 5:08 am

    Yum! I didn’t think to include something to soak up the booze for our wedding appetizer.

    Did I tell you we’re doing a whiskey tasting at the wedding?! It’s not too late for you & Adam to add one, too! 🙂

    • jenna
      January 16, 2013 at 12:04 pm

      whaaaaat??! I can’t even TELL adam about that. He would totally freak out!

  • Molly @ RDexposed
    January 16, 2013 at 5:17 am

    My favorite wedding food portion-the late night snack! A caterer that I worked with in college would do a bacon snack for the dancing portion. That’s when guests need some food!

  • Alisha @ Alisha's Appetite
    January 16, 2013 at 5:48 am

    I totally agree that meatballs have been given a backseat to cheese trays over the years. It’s time to bring it back, I’ll start by serving these at the next football playoff game I go too!

  • megan @ whatmegansmaking
    January 16, 2013 at 6:19 am

    I love meatballs of all kinds. Never had them cooked in wine though – this looks good!

  • Bev @ Bev Cooks
    January 16, 2013 at 6:34 am

    Oh my word, Jenna. Why am I not living inside your mouth?

  • Kaitlin @ Taste of the City
    January 16, 2013 at 6:42 am

    These look adorable! Growing up, my mom always made a version with grape jelly and chili sauce!

  • elizabeth @ chronic venture
    January 16, 2013 at 6:46 am

    brilliant brilliant idea!!

  • Erica {Coffee & Quinoa}
    January 16, 2013 at 7:00 am

    Yum! I love all the wine recipes!

  • joelle (on a pink typewriter)
    January 16, 2013 at 7:04 am

    Totally agree – meatballs need to get the spotlight back. And wine? LOVE.

  • Butterfingered
    January 16, 2013 at 7:17 am

    This looks really good….i might have to include this on my parent’s anniversary’s menu! 🙂

  • A farmer in the dell
    January 16, 2013 at 7:19 am

    I would take one of these boozy meatballs any day over a fancy cheese plate!

  • Heather @ Heather's Dish
    January 16, 2013 at 7:46 am

    I think I’ll just call these “heaven on a toothpick.” You know, something like that 😉

  • Madison
    January 16, 2013 at 8:44 am

    Nice! Wine and meat in 1 dish: my fiance will be a happy, happy man! 🙂

  • Dana
    January 16, 2013 at 9:04 am

    These look incredible! I love a good pino noir and I love mini meatballs! They’re my #1 “go-to” appetizer for parties! Can’t wait to try this!

    Love your blog. 🙂

  • deva at deva by definition
    January 16, 2013 at 9:16 am

    these sound FANTASTIC. So yummy!! I love mini meatballs.

  • Caroline L.
    January 16, 2013 at 9:16 am

    I love me a good meatball! Sometimes I forget about how much I really love them and forget about them for awhile, and then I pop in a really good one and my heart sings.

  • Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic
    January 16, 2013 at 9:42 am

    Mini meatballs for parties is a great idea. And in wine sauce? Perfect.

  • Jordan
    January 16, 2013 at 10:11 am

    My mouth was watering hard-core as I read this post. This recipe sounds absolutely delicious!

  • Mary @ The Kitchen Paper
    January 16, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Yum! I love cooking with wine – it’s a great excuse to sip and cook!

  • Natalie
    January 16, 2013 at 10:55 am

    I have a baby shower coming up and this would be a great app but I was wondering if you think it work with a vegan/vegetarian meat substitute? Have quite a few vegetarians who will be in attendance and would like to make an option for them.

    • jenna
      January 16, 2013 at 12:02 pm

      I think it would work but I have not tried that so I can’t say for sure!

  • Averie @ Averie Cooks
    January 16, 2013 at 11:29 am

    That pinot noir sauce instantly elevates anything it would touch, no doubt!

  • abby
    January 16, 2013 at 11:46 am

    This sounds so good and I’m a huge fan of pino noir. Win!

  • Kate @ Kate's Whole Plate
    January 16, 2013 at 11:56 am

    I LOVE cooking with wine….get to drink while you cook;)

  • Liz @ TurnUpTheEat
    January 16, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    You always use the best combination of ingredients in your recipes!

  • Cassie | Bake Your Day
    January 16, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    This sauce is brilliant. I’m in love!

  • Michelle
    January 16, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    the sauce looks divine!

  • Kristen @ notsodomesticated
    January 16, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    Yum! I love mini meatballs at parties, too. They’re so much more filling than the normal chips and dip!

  • Elissa
    January 16, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    I made these meatballs tonight for dinner and loved them! Served them with polenta and a salad 🙂

  • Jess
    January 16, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    I think that meatballs are making a serious comeback – I have this feeling that they’re going to be everywhere in 2013, and that makes me so very happy. They’re so amazingly tasty and fun! These look so tasty, and would definitely be ridiculous over mashed potatoes!

  • jan
    January 16, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    Meatballs are my favorite appetizer! Thanks for this recipe. Mmmmm.

  • Stacy
    January 16, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    Can I make these and then add to crock pot on warm for a party? Would the sauce soak up too much and burn or keep moist? Thanks

  • Ashley@cupcakesncrunches
    January 17, 2013 at 3:55 am

    I couldn’t agree more! Meatballs > Cheese
    & meatballs with wine…brilliant! You succeeded in making the meatball fancy! Watch out cheese platters! ha

  • Sam
    January 17, 2013 at 9:47 am

    Great recipe with Pinot Jenna! I also recommend doing half beef and half ground pork.

  • Katie
    January 17, 2013 at 11:41 am

    Yum! Barefoot wine reminds me of my first Valentine’s day spent with my now fiance! It’s a good thing I have a concussion right now so I’m not tempted to drink wine all day during my unemployment. haha

  • Emily @ Life on Food
    January 17, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    I have a rule. If you are cooking with wine, you also need to be drinking wine. Heck my favorite thing is weekend dinner and sipping wine as I cook.

  • Melissa
    January 17, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    I saw Pinot Noir and got really excited because my husband LOVES Pinot. These look amazing!

  • Tina
    January 17, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    Those look super yummy! I love grapes but I’m honestly not at all a fan of grape jelly (too much of it as a kid!), but I think I’m going to brave this recipe because these just look too good to pass up!

  • Julia {The Roasted Root}
    January 17, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    I don’t know what’s more appealing to me – the meatballs or the fact that they’re engulfed in tasty red wine sauce. Fabulous, just fabulous!

  • Emma Swann
    January 18, 2013 at 9:38 am

    I’ve been following your blog for a while, so many yummy things to try! These look delicious 🙂

  • Ali @ WHOLEistically Fit
    January 18, 2013 at 10:53 am

    You had me at Pinot Noir ;). I love cooking with wine and these mini meatballs looks absolutely incredible.

  • Anna
    January 18, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    I think it’s varietals. Eight out of nine, not bad for someone that was drinking! Think positive!

  • Tamar
    January 19, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Just pinned these; they look great. I do think (or hope!) that you mean 85% lean beef, though! 🙂

  • vanillasugarblog
    January 20, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    oh that sauce!

  • Mini Meatballs in Red Wine Sauce. | grey & brianna's
    January 25, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    […] meatballs…in red wine sauce. I made this recipe last Tuesday and it was a big hit. It is one of Jenna’s recipes over at eat, live, run. Boy is it delicious. Instead of serving at as an appetizer we ate […]

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  • Elizabeth
    January 29, 2013 at 11:25 am

    Would you need to do anything differently if you wanted to do this in a crockpot? Could you put them in the crockpot to keep them warm for a party?

  • Carolyn
    February 1, 2013 at 9:28 am

    Jenna, I’m making this for a wedding shower Sunday and am wondering if you can clarify something for me. I’m confused about the shallot quantity. In the ingredients list it says 1/2 a shallot, minced, so when I came to assembling the meatballs I used the full half a shallot (the description doesn’t specify how much). But then when I came to the wine sauce, it says to add half a minced shallot – is this in addition to the half a shallot already used in the wine? Thanks much … they look delicious!

    • jenna
      February 1, 2013 at 9:59 am

      That is pretty confusing! I apologize about that. I meant you add half the shallot in the meatballs and the other half in the sauce 🙂

  • Jan
    January 26, 2014 at 8:19 am

    Can I make the sauce and freeze

  • Jan
    January 26, 2014 at 8:21 am

    Not thickening…should I add more corn starch

  • Greg Zyn
    March 18, 2020 at 5:02 pm

    These mini meatballs look great in pinot noir sauce. I am thankful that you’ve shared the recipe for the pinot noir sauce here. I will make this sauce, and dip my meatballs in this sauce. It will taste fantastic!