How to Cook with Wine

Thursday, September 13th, 2007 at 12:00 am

wine and foodPutting wine into your cooking intensifies and enhances the flavor of your dish, as wine is known to release flavors in food that otherwise could not be experienced. Here are your basic guidelines and tips on how to cook with wine.

Adjust salt when using cooking wine

Some inexpensive wines are labeled as "cooking wine," which sole purpose is to be used for cooking. It cannot be drunk on its own, as these are typically salty. It may also have other additives that may adversely affect the taste of your chosen menu. If you choose to use a cooking wine, adjust your recipe to reflect the salt content already in the wine.

An expensive wine is not necessarily

On the other hand, a cheap wine will not bring out the best characteristics of your dish. The process of cooking would only bring out the worst in an inferior wine. However, cooking with a good quality wine that you would enjoy drinking will provide the same flavor to a dish as a premium wine.

Also, cooking with an expensive wine requires more careful handling, cooking it slowly (but not simmering too long) and not letting it come to boil in order to maximize the quality of the dish. It is better to save the expensive wine to serve with the meal.

Use young wines

For the novice cook, it is best to use good quality, well-balanced, young, and powerful wines (with vintage varying from one to three years ago). These good wines can withstand higher temperatures and longer cooking time.

Don’t go too cheap

Cook only with wine you would drink (with the exception of cooking wines). The core flavor of your dish would impart the flavors of the wine you choose. If you do not like the flavor of the wine, you will not like the eventual taste of the dish.

Match the wine with what your dish would taste

If a wine is extremely fruity, sour, or unsavory, these characteristics would be further emphasized during cooking.

Take your time before adding more wine

Wine needs time to impart its flavor. You need to wait at least 10 minutes to taste before adding more wine. Putting too much wine in a dish would only overpower the dish.

Do not add wine just before serving

The wine should simmer with the food, or sauce, to enhance the flavor of the dish. If added late in the preparation, it could impart a harsh quality.

Taste depends on how you cook the wine

A wine that is simmered for a short time on low heat would impart a different flavor of that same wine simmered at high heat for an extended period of time.

Avoid using aluminum or cast iron

When cooking with wine, avoid using aluminum or cast iron cookware. Instead, stick to non-reactive cookware such as enamel.