Cooking with Wine
By Jen Pfeiffer
I got a great little magnet recently – some of you may have seen it – it reads "I love cooking with wine; sometimes I even put it in the food"!!!! Inspired by this magnet, I thought I should discuss the topic of cooking with wine.
The most important rule in selecting a wine to cook with is to always use a wine that you would be prepared to drink. Remember, it is only the alcohol that diminishes during the cooking process, not the wine's quality.
In general terms, red wines tend to bring colour, clarity, a robust and sometimes dry characteristic to the foods they flavour. White wines are known to bring an acidic quality.
Red wines are suitable for flavouring red sauces with red meat. For example, a bold red wine would be perfect for spaghetti with meatballs or a rich casserole with lots of heavy vegetables. Steer towards white wines if you are making cream sauces or emphasising white meats or seafood.
Being more specific, different wine varieties can contribute different flavours to a dish. Look for flavours in the wine that will complement the flavours in the dish – eg. Pinot Noir is often thought to have quite earthy aromas and flavours which would work very well used in a dish containing mushrooms or truffles; a creamy, buttery sauce would benefit from a splash of a creamy, textural Chardonnay. For a fresh, citrus like flavour (great in seafood dishes), Riesling or Semillon are great to use; and for a big, robust meat dish look for a big, robust red wines like Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon or Durif.
When adding the wine to your dish, think of it as a spice – something to highlight the other flavours in the food, without overpowering them. Most dishes only call for a splash or two of wine, generally not more than one glass.
Some of the ways to cook with wine are marinating meats (the alcohol and acid in the wine tenderises the meat prior to cooking); deglazing a pan with wine and using that as a base for a sauce (whites for a short time, reds for longer); marinating or poaching fruit in wine for a dessert; and adding a splash of wine to a sauce or oven baked dish (table wines at the beginning of the cooking process to add a subtle flavour and fortified wines at the end to retain their fullness of flavour).
The most important thing to remember is that cooking with wine should be fun – and just like my magnet suggests, a glass for the chef as well as the dish, will only enhance the experience!!!!!