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Tips on how to cook with wine


A recipe that calls for wine may create doubt for home cooks who don’t know the fruit of the vine all that well. Will you ruin your chicken dish if you use red when the recipe calls for white? (Perhaps, and you’ll definitely turn the meat red.) And is your favorite sweet white zinfandel appropriate for shrimp scampi, too? (No.)

Here are tips on cooking with wine that should give you the confidence to splash with abandon.

Why cook with wine?

Primarily, wine enhances the flavor and aroma of dishes. Heating it concentrates the flavor of the wine, which is why it’s important to match the right one to your dish. The wine should meld with other ingredients, not stick out like a cracked cork.

Does alcohol burn off during cooking?

Yes, but it may take longer than you think. After 15 minutes of cooking, the alcohol content is still about 40 percent. There is even a little left — about 5 percent — after a stew has simmered for 3 hours. Wine, in general, is lower in alcohol than other spirits, and the amount divided by the servings won’t yield much per person. If it’s a concern, substitute unsweetened apple cider, grape juice or even broths when appropriate.

How much to pay?

“Don’t cook with wine you wouldn’t drink” is a well-worn kitchen saying. While it might be true, we would add: Don’t spend $50 on a bottle of wine for cooking. There are plenty of wines for about $10 that will do.

When to use wine:

Wine enhances a dish when it is simmered for a while with other ingredients, so add it when there is still plenty of cooking time. If it’s stirred in at the end of cooking, it may impart unwanted harshness, and its flavor will outshine everything else.

Can I use cooking wine?

Please don’t. Inexpensive cooking wines have high salt content, which alters the flavor of your dish. The cook should control the saltiness. Cooking wines are stocked by the vinegars in many grocery stores, which gives you an indication of how they taste.

What if the recipe isn’t clear on the kind of wine?

When a recipe lists “red” or “white” wine, use a medium-dry to dry wine. (In wine parlance, “dry” just means “not sweet.”) For red, that means a pinot noir, and for white, go for pinot grigio.

If the recipe calls for a full-bodied red wine, reach for cabernet, Bordeaux, syrah, zinfandel.

If the recipe calls for a young, robust red wine, reach for Rioja/tempranillo, Beaujolais Nouveau (seasonal and best from Thanksgiving to New Year’s).

If the recipe calls for a medium-bodied red wine, reach for merlot, shiraz, Chianti.

If the recipe calls for a dry white wine, reach for chardonnay, chenin blanc, sauvignon blanc or dry riesling.

If the recipe calls for a fruity white wine, reach for Gewürztraminer, riesling or viognier.

If the recipe calls for a fortified wine, reach for Marsala, vermouth, sherry, port or Madeira. (The recipe should give you some guidelines, since these wines are not necessarily interchangeable


By: Decanter Staff

***Grabbed from: