Sep 01, 2017 08:30AM
By Jason Huddle
Even if you don’t drink wine, using it in recipes adds moisture and flavor, and is a great addition to marinades.
It’s all about taste. Cooking with wine accentuates the flavor of the food you’re cooking without overpowering it. A little experimentation will have you singing the praises of how certain wines work so well with paired foods.
If you’re worried about the alcohol content, heating wine dissipates it, as well as its sulfites. Thekitchn.com defines sulfites as, “An inclusive term for sulfur dioxide (SO2). SO2 is a preservative and widely used in winemaking because of its antioxidant and antibacterial properties. SO2 plays a very important role in preventing oxidation and maintaining a wine’s freshness.”
Cooking with wine instead of other ingredients is also a fat reducer. For instance, as a substitute for butter, combine wine with oil when sauteeing vegetables. When making a cake, use a dessert wine instead of oil. In meat and vegetable marinades, replace half of the oil you’d use with room-temperature wine. Its acidity also helps tenderize the meat. While roasting meat or poultry, baste with wine alone or mix it with oil, melted butter or stock.
Wine can take the place of water in any recipe. It will retain the needed moisture, plus add that flavor. How about gravy? Gradually stir in one or two tablespoons of red wine until you reach the desired taste. All these wine alternatives put moisture back into the food you’re taking the fat out of.
According to webmd, “Wine helps cook and add flavor to fish. Deep-fried fish dipped in tartar sauce – albeit tasty – defeats the nutritional purpose of eating fish. One way to add flavor and moisture to fish without adding fat is to cook it with wine. You can add wine to the pan while the fish is simmering, poach the fish over a saucepan of boiling wine, or drizzle fish with a tablespoon or two of wine and bake it in a foil package.”
The most offered recommendation is that a bottle labeled cooking wine not be used, and picking a wine from the vinegar aisle of the grocery store is a definite no-no.
“Cook with a wine you would drink. Do not use a wine to cook if you would never drink it in a glass or serve it with food. These wines contain a lot of salt and other additives and you would never drink them in a glass,” wikihow.com says.
This doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money. A moderately priced wine is a good choice, with extra money utilized for the purchase of better recipe ingredients.
Another fax pas is substitutions. If a recipe calls for white wine, don’t use red. This has to do with tannins: the bitterness or dryness in a red wine that makes you pucker your lips. This acidity also means that red wines become bitter quicker when cooking, so less reduction is recommended. The tannins in red wine, however, work well with strongly-flavored, high-protein foods like steak.
Webmd says, “A very dry wine has very few natural sugars remaining, and is usually higher in alcohol. In contrast, the sweeter wines still contain a larger amount of natural sugar from the grapes, so choose the type of wine depending on the flavor you want in the dish you’re making.
“Generally, light-colored meats like chicken and fish are paired with light-colored wines (white) while dark-colored meats, like beef, are paired with dark-colored wines (red). Red dinner wines go well with hearty or highly seasoned foods, such as beef, pork, game, duck, goose and pasta dishes, while white dinner wines tend to work with dishes containing chicken, turkey, fish, shellfish, ham and veal.”
Different wines also evoke flavors or aromas that should be considered when using them in cooking. White wines can give off hints of melon, apple, pineapple, pear, citrus, vanilla, caramel, olives or mushrooms. Red wines can conjure up berries, peaches, currants, plums, cherries, oranges, chocolate or coffee.
Bonappetit says, “Some recipes get specific. Others keep it general and use a descriptor like ‘dry.’ But, as a baseline, Merlot is a safe bet for red because it has relatively low tannins and is soft and fruity. Same goes for Sauvignon Blanc because it’s lean and also has some nice fruitiness. If you can’t find or don’t like those, a white Bordeaux and Côtes du Rhône are good swap-ins.”
Thekitchn.com chooses crisp white wines like Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and unoaked Chardonnay. “Pinot Grigio is the most neutral of the three, which makes it the most versatile. Sauvignon Blanc provides racy acidity, which is particularly delicious in seafood dishes or with sauces utilizing heavy cream. Chardonnay contributes the most richness of the three.
“If possible, choose a wine that has a moderate alcohol content (ideally between 10 and 13 percent) and generous acidity. Why? Highly alcoholic wines may take longer to reduce and often do not have the necessary acidity, which adds brightness while tenderizing.”
It is recommended that a wine be used during the cooking process – not right before serving the dish. “The wine should simmer with the food or sauce to enhance the flavor of the dish,” whatscookingamerica.net says. “As the wine cooks, it reduces and becomes an extract, which flavors. Wine added too late in the preparation will give a harsh quality to the dish. A wine needs time to impart its flavor in your dish. Wait 10 minutes or more to taste before adding more wine.”
That’s because too little wine won’t give you the anticipated results while too much will overpower the food. Instead, gradually adding wine above and beyond what the recipe calls for is the best approach.
Wine should not be overused in a meal. If it adds an important component to a dish, then go for it. The more you experiment with your favorite recipes, the better you’ll get in knowing how it will taste at your dining room table.
Article by Kim Cassell