Sunday, December 26, 2010

Tips for Cooking with Wine

By Michelle Ann Gelder

Cooking with wine is a great way to enhance the flavor of food. It helps to release some flavors that may not be experienced without it. Wine can make quite a difference in many of your favorite dishes. It's also very simple to cook with it.

How Much Wine to Use

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to cooking with wine; however, it is better to start with a little and then add more if you feel the dish needs more. It is important to realize that the flavor of wine when it is used in cooking doesn't come from the alcohol but from the true nature of the wine. In fact, very little alcohol is left in a finished dish, as most of it will evaporate.

You can boil down or reduce wine to intensify its flavor. You can make sweet wine sweeter by doing this because you are concentrating it. Be careful of this fact because you have to leave room for the cooking process. If the taste is just right at the beginning, it may be too much when you are done cooking.

Will Any Bottle of Wine Do for Cooking?

No. The type of wine that you want to use for cooking is the kind that you would like to drink. Lower priced wines shouldn't be used for cooking but that doesn't mean you need a $100 bottle, either. You can find a great medium grade wine for under $10 a bottle. It will work just fine.

Begin with a basic red or white wine that you have previously tasted and enjoyed. Using a strange wine you haven't tried before is too risky for an important dinner. Sauvignon Blanc is perfect for marinades, sauting, chicken, and seafood. For red meats or sauces with red meat as a base, any variety of Chianti or Cabernet Sauvignon works best.

Other Tips

The more you use wine in the kitchen, the more comfortable you will be in experimenting. Before you get to that level, keep the following in mind:

Replace the water in a recipe with your favorite wine.
Add a tablespoon or two of red wine to your brown gravy. Let it simmer for a bit to let the alcohol evaporate.
Make a marinade of your favorite flavored oil and wine for meat and poultry.
It is best to heat the wine for meat dishes before you add it. However, avoid boiling it because it will lose a lot of its flavor. Warm wine helps to tenderize meat, while a cold wine can make your meat a little bit tougher.
Heavier red meats, such as roasts, need a dry red wine. Lighter meats, such as pork, poultry, and fish, do well with a white wine.
You can balance a meal quite nicely by serving the same wine you used in your recipes. If you want a different wine, at least keep similar, such as reds with reds.

A Final Thought

Cooking with wine is a great way to add a new dimension to your favorite recipes. It only takes some experimentation to realize which wines are your favorites to cook with!

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