Wine is for drinking, right? What about for cooking with? Wine is in fact a versatile product, which we, of course, love to drink here.
But it can also act as an asset to the cooking process, bringing together ingredients and balancing out acidity levels.
Now we aren’t talking about pouring in a full bottle of an expensive number, wasting both your wine and meal. We’re talking about techniques such as marinating, deglazing and making the perfect sauce through the wine reduction process.
If you aren’t an avid cook, we get that some of these techniques may seem a little intricate.
After all, you’re likely to be more of a wine enthusiast, rather than a Micheline star chef (even though we wish we could be both when it comes to wine). We can bet you’re thinking, ‘why can’t I just drink it?’.
Well, you can, but you can also have the chance to enhance the flavours of your food in the process, simply with a small measure of your favourite red or white wine.
As the idea of cooking with wine is new to many and can be a little complicated, with so many wines, variations and acidity levels to choose from, we couldn’t help but share some tips on the adaptable role of wine.
Here’s some expert advice on how to cook with wine, why it’s recommended, and some techniques to try yourself. It’s time to enjoy wine as both your tipple and as a loved cooking ingredient.
Cook With Wine You Say – Why?
If/when you cook, it’s highly likely that you season your food with different herbs and spices, helping to bring out appetising flavours and aromas.
If we’re right about your cooking methods, this is the exact role that wine will play, acting as an enhancer, rather than a key ingredient.
Realistically, cooking with wine won’t be suitable for every meal you make. Yet there are some popular recipes where wine works amazingly, to complement existing flavours, to combine ingredients, and to offer balance, like no other condiment.
Wine is a strong choice for many dishes and baked goods as, throughout the recommended cooking process, the selling points, the flavours that we love, and the best of our favourite bottles help to uplift recipes, rather than overwhelm them with high alcohol contents.
Depending on the cooking technique, the amount of wine that’s been used, and the cooking timescale, most of the alcohol contents will evaporate, leaving the intended beneficial characteristics of the wine.
If cooking with wine is new to you, knowing where to start is very important, from picking between red or white bottles, to finding the right acidic levels.
Here’s some expert advice on how to cook with wine, following recommended cooking processes.
Expert Advice On How To Cook With Wine
Finding the perfect bottle to drink can sometimes feel like an experiment. Now it’s time to do the exact same when finding and cooking with wine.
Down to light and refreshing flavours, white wines are commonly used throughout the cooking process of many dishes.
White wine can be used to infuse desserts, can help to elevate the natural flavours of seafood and meat, and can also work perfectly in fresh vegetable dishes.
When selecting a white wine to cook with its best to consider the ingredients that you’re using, along with how light the overall recipe is.
The lighter the recipe, ingredients and flavours, the lighter your white wine should be, where Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc variations work perfectly. This will most definitely be the case when cooking white meats, fish and greens.
If your recipe is bolder and richer, fuller bodied whites will be recommended, where Chardonnay variants work perfectly with shellfish and earthy flavours, and where sweeter takes, such as Riesling work great for poaching fruits and creamy desserts.
When picking a white wine to cook with, it’s very important to think about your end goals for your dish, considering taste, freshness and complimenting ingredients.
Red wine is usually associated with rich, warm and bold recipes. From lean cuts of meat, to stews, and to powerful desserts, finding the right red wine to cook with is key.
Starting with sweeter recipes, the likes of Sherry and Madeira wines work best, offering fruity yet rich notes, ideal for chocolate and syrup puddings.
On the other end of the scale, considering savoury dishes, warming and meaty recipes such as stews or beef bourguignons work perfectly with medium-bodied reds, including a variant of Zinfandel.
Yet, if you’re going for a fattier cut, a darker meat or a longer cooking process such as marinating, deeper, full-bodied reds will be ideal to cook with, such as Cabernet Sauvignon.
Following the same approach as cooking with whites, the lighter your recipe, the lighter your bottle of red should be, offering balance and better likelihoods of merging flavours, rather than overshadowing them.
Techniques For Cooking With Wine
Once you’ve picked the right wine to cook with, all around the colour, flavour, acidic levels and the roundness of a bottle, it’s time to put your cooking hat on.
There are a number of techniques for cooking with wine which can help your selection translate into a well-balanced, flavoursome dish.
- Deglazing: Here’s where wine will be poured into a used pan, with the intentions of combining the flavours of a dish, usually seen as remains after cooking. Deglazing can harness low notes, found within the cooking process, which can work great with full-bodied wines.
- Marinating: Marinating is the process where different ingredients are combined together and left to marinate for a few hours, or even sometimes overnight to elevate flavours. Wine is commonly used as balance can be restored through perfectly selected variants.
- Baking: Wine is a great asset to use when baking or cooking desserts. Of course, sweeter and bolder wines should be used in this process, helping to maintain the intentions of a recipe.
- Sauce reduction: A common cooking technique where red wine is used, the sauce reduction process is where ingredients are reduced over a low heat for a number of hours, allowing for key ingredients to mellow out and balance. Through the reducing process, the alcohol contents of wine will evaporate, leaving the notes of a bottle to transform the taste and glaze of a sauce.
Key Tips On How To Cook With Wine
Cooking with wine can feel very overwhelming. But as long as you follow our expert advice on how to cook with wine, condensed below into some key tips, you’ll soon love to cook with it, just as much as you do drink it!
- Always pick the right wine for your dish, depending on its ingredients, acidity levels and your end flavour intentions.
- For light dishes, always select either a light red or white.
- For bolder dishes, always select complimenting, full-bodied wines.
- For acidic recipes, opt for a low acidic wine.
- Always use small measures of wine in your dishes.
- Always pick a drinkable wine, rather than a cooking wine, as you’ll have the pleasure of both cooking with and drinking your bottle.
- Remember that your wine will evaporate, the longer it’s cooked for. Consider this when selecting your cooking technique.
- Always store your wine optimally, before use, to avoid oxidization or excessive ageing. We can help with this at Elite Wine Refrigeration with our extensive range of wine coolers and wine cabinets.
Before reading this blog, the idea of cooking with wine may have come across as pointless or even overwhelming.
Yet, by following some simple tips, you can make the most of your favourite bottles, by using their flavours and aromas to enhance your food.
Make sure you store your bottles optimally to benefit your next cooking experience. For more information on this, contact our team today.