How To Cook With Wine
Wine can add a complex and deep flavor to many dishes, but many home cooks are intimated by using wine, thinking it is the reserve of high-end chefs and fancy restaurants. Nothing could be further from the truth. Here's a simple primer on how to successfully cook with wine.
Pick the Right Wine
Many cooks or recipes call for cooking wine. Ignore them. Never cook with a wine you wouldn't drink. A low-quality wine is going to be a detriment to the dish, and it is better to leave out the wine altogether than it is to use an unpleasant wine. Your taste buds will thank you.
Aim for a mid-tier wine, something that is pleasant to drink, but doesn't necessarily have to be premium quality. Generally, the recipe will call for the type of wine, but specific choices will vary by flavor profile and preference. Fortified wines, Port, Sherry, Madiera, and Marsala, are great choices in many situations, as they have intense flavor profiles and long shelf lives.
Understand the Goal
There are a few standard uses of wine in cooking, such as marinades, cooking liquid, and flavoring in a completed dish. For a marinade, more wine can be used, as it is intended to permeate the food and infuse it with flavor. For cooking liquids, less wine should be used, as the liquid will reduce and intensify the flavors. Too much wine at this stage can lead to an overpowering flavor profile that no one will enjoy. For finalizing flavoring, it's important to taste the dish first and add wine to a simmering or finishing stage.
Splashing wine in a soup, stew, or other dishes as it is on the way to the table is not going to be successful. Because wine reduces and interacts with other flavors, if the wine is added late in cooking, ensure that there have been a few minutes between adding the wine and tasting to determine if more wine is needed.
Know These Tips
It is commonly said that the alcohol burns off during cooking. This is not entirely accurate. As wine cooks, it does lose some of its alcohol, but rarely all of it. If anyone is very sensitive to alcohol, it may be best to choose another recipe or skip the wine.
Using leftover wine for cooking is a great option, but an opened bottle of wine is likely to only remain usable for a week or two. For more information, contact local professionals like those found at JJ Buckley Fine Wines.