Cooking novices often overlook the importance of using wine in cooking, but every culinary school student knows that cooking with wine is the only way to bring out exquisite flavor possibilities.
Wine can make dishes like boeuf bourguignon and Italian favorites stand out as they will be packed with flavor. The alcohol and tannins in wine react with the cooking food to break down tough meats and increase the boldness of certain flavors. Wine has been used since Ancient Roman times to preserve and tenderize meat, while adding intense aroma and flavor.
Whether you opt to add a little leftover wine into your grandmother’s spaghetti recipe or buy specialty wines specifically to use in recipes, there are many great ways to include wine in your cooking. Follow these 10 tips for how to use wine in everything from salad to desserts:
1. Poached Pears are Easy and Fun
An exquisitely tart and sweet dessert of French origin, the poached pear offers an opportunity to explore new culinary ideas. In France, everyone’s grand-mere has her own secret recipe for making the most delicious poached pears.
Try this recipe for a jumping off point for your own culinary wine adventure. You can easily serve the wine you poached the pears in as mulled wine. Just strain and pour into a thermal carafe for easy serving.
2. Make Sangria Popsicles
Everyone has memories of delicious fruity popsicles on a hot summer evening. But not everyone knows wine will freeze just as easily as fruit juice. Why not spice up your life by making some delicious sangria popsicles? Adding this to the end of a summer barbeque is the perfect dessert.
3. Leftover Wine is Perfect
When stored properly, wine can continue to add flavor to your dishes for days. Never toss a good bottle away when it could be put to better use. Jennifer Schaffer at BuzzFeed lists 25 reasons to never throw away leftover wine again. Try some drunken spaghetti or make wine jellies and neither waste nor want.
4. Tannic Red Wines Make Excellent Meat Sauces
Tannins are microscopic particles in a wine like Cabernet Sauvignon that greatly impact the flavor and texture of wine. When added to a pan sauce, the tannins are attracted to the proteins of the meat and oil left in the pan from the cooking process.
Reducing the sauce with heat increases the ratio of tannins and can make for an intensely flavorful, rich sauce. Add a red wine sauce to the next steak you cook and taste the amazing results.
5. Consider Aromas
Wines impart their aromas to food, which can impact the overall flavor profile of a dish. Remember to take this into account when planning your next meal. Wines like Pinot Noir have an aroma evocative of mushrooms. Sauté some mushrooms in a fragrant Pinot Noir to add earthy flavors and texture to any dish you add the mushrooms to.
6. Try to Preserve Cooking Wine
No matter how expensive the wine was to begin with, if left uncorked on a counter it will start turning to vinegar. While leftover wine is useful for cooking, making sure it is well-preserved means enhanced flavors later on.
If wine is allowed to oxidize for too long, it will begin to taste bitter and sometimes can be quite foul. Use a vacuum cork to remove oxygen from the bottle and store it in a KingsBottle dual zone wine cooler for optimal preservation.
7. Remember Your Health
Wine has many health benefits, so adding it to your diet through cooking can be a safe and effective way to get the benefits without the side-effects of drinking too much wine. When wine is heated during the cooking process, the alcohol evaporates, leaving only the health-promoting nutrients behind.
8. Know Your Acidity
The delicate flavors of less acidic wines like Merlot are overpowered by the acidity of tomatoes in a Marinara Sauce, making an acidic wine like Chianti a better choice. Think about the flavor of the wine and how it will complement the other ingredients in a dish.
9. Wine Can Tenderize Meat Dishes
Tough cuts of beef like Flank Steak are often marinated or cooked in wine because alcohol dissolves the fatty connective tissue in the meat, tenderizing it. Wine will also release the flavors of the meat, adding delicious richness and complexity.
10. Use Your Tongue
Sauvignon Blanc adds a tangy, citrus flavor that complements many fish and vegetable dishes. A good rule of thumb is to cook food in a wine that you would drink while eating it, so white wines are generally good choices for seafood dishes.
Impress your friends and family with these advanced cooking tips. Whether you’re a novice or a Four Star Chef, wine is essential to cooking delicious food. Never let a good wine go to waste, and you’ll be well on your way to culinary bliss.
Featured photo credit: Tenuta Torciano via torciano.com