Why cook with wine?


One of the simplest ways to add an extra layer of flavor to a dish to help elevate it to the next level is by cooking with wine. Like the drink itself, recipes that include wine have a complex profile that can bring out ingredients in a way nothing else can.

There are two traditional uses for wine in dishes: using wine as a marinade and cooking with wine as a liquid flavoring agent. Before you start pouring alcohol in your food, though, make sure you have a bottle that is worth using. The general rule of thumb is: if the wine isn’t good enough to drink, it isn’t good enough to eat. That said, here are a few ways you can use a nice wine to add something special to ordinary recipes.



Use Wine As A Marinade

When acid comes in contact with the tissue of meat, it starts to break it down

Wine, as you probably know, contain a relatively high acid content. It is this high acidity (mainly stemming from tartaric acid and malic acid) that allows wine to work as a marinade for meat. When acid comes in contact with the tissue of meat, it starts to break it down allowing flavor to penetrate the outer layer of meat.

In an ideal world, you would marinate the meat in the exact same wine you plan to drink with the meal—unfortunately that can get expensive if you plan on drinking a nice wine. Settling for a similar, cheaper version can still work; mixing wines that are made from different varieties of grapes can cause problems, though, and leave flavors clashing instead of flowing together.

When marinating thin strips of meat, do not leave it too long; if the wine stays in contact for a prolonged period of time, it can break down the tissue too much and cause the end product to become mushy.


Use Wine As A Cooking Liquid

not all of the alcohol burns off

This is the traditional idea that most people have in their heads when they think about cooking with wine. In classic wine recipes like coq au vin, a bold red wine will be the star of the show. When making a dish like this that calls for reducing the wine, make sure it reduces far enough—just boiling chicken in wine can leave the meat an odd purple hue.

Speaking of odd colors… When cooking a cream sauce that you would like to incorporate wine into it’s usually advised that you pick a white wine; if you add red wine to a white cream-based sauce you will end up with something akin to Pepto-Bismol.

When cooking wine recipes it should be noted that not all of the alcohol burns off and the longer you cook wine, the more alcohol burns off. Some people believe if you simply light alcohol on fire (flambé style) all of the alcohol will disappear—this simply isn’t true. A dish that simmers for 15 minutes will have considerably more wine than a dish that simmered for over an hour.

It’s important you do let some of the alcohol burn off. If you simply add wine at the end of the cooking process, you will end up with a pungent (possibly inedible) plate of food. Allowing the wine to cook down in a dish will mellow the flavor and allow the intricate nuances of the wine to penetrate the rest of the dish.

Good luck and don’t forget to use our extensive recipe catalog!


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