Pairing Food and Wine

Cooking with Wine: Yes, You CAN Use It For Something Other Than Drinking!

Using Wine When Cooking

I think the picture says it all – “I love cooking with wine… and sometimes even put it in the food”.  It’s a fact that wine and food are MEANT to go together!  Sure, we often drink a glass of wine with a meal, but it is also very easy to incorporate wine into your meal preparation as well.  By adding wine while cooking, it will not only add flavor to the food, but it will also help enhance the flavors that are already there.  That being said, there are some DO’s and DON’T’s when it comes to cooking with wine.   Here are a few tips that we found useful when we first started using wine when cooking

You Do Not Have To Use Cooking Wine

Did you know that cooking wines sold in the grocery store usually contain salt and are horrible to drink? Keep in mind that a more concentrated flavor is present in the dish so if something tastes nasty before cooking, it will carry its flavor to your dish. Common advice is to stick with a regular drinking brand and avoid those marketed for cooking.   Stick with the wines that you like and use them for cooking as well.  This way you will always know that the flavors you are adding to your dish, are flavors that you already like.

Use the Type/Varietal of Wine That Pairs Well With The Dish

A common question people have is “What type of wine should I use for a particular dish?”.  Honestly, there is no right or wrong answer to that question.  If you want a good rule of thumb to go by, try cooking with the wine that would best pair with that particular dish.  If you are looking for a quick cheat sheet, here are some common pairings for wines

Pairing Your Favorite Food and Wine

Common pairings for food and wine

Pair White With Light and Red With Dark

This certainly isn’t set in stone, but when you are first starting out it will help you easily recognize what wine to use. White for light dishes and light colored meats such as chicken or fish and red for more full flavored dishes and darker meats such as beef and duck. You’ll learn though that both can work well with many meats so you’ll need to experiment and once you get more experienced, you’ll get more adventurous and learn which will do well in your favorite dishes and you’ll just “know” which ones to try for new recipes.

It’s Not About The Price of The Wine That You Use

By this we mean that you don’t have to use an expensive bottle of wine for your dish to taste good. Focus more on the taste of the wine that you are using versus the price. If it is a wine that you enjoy, then you will more than likely enjoy it in the meal. Believe it or not, boxed wine is a great choice for cooking with (at least most of them). They’re inexpensive yet work nicely as a recipe ingredient. As long as it doesn’t smell, taste vinegary or taste off, you can use it.

Don’t Wait Until The Last Minute To Add Wine To Your Dish

In order to really bring out the flavors of the wine and your dish, you need to cook off the alcohol that the wine contains. The earlier you add it to the dish, the more enhanced the flavors will be and you will taste less alcohol… the later you add it, the more prominent the wine flavor will be and so will the alcohol. It’s always best to follow the recipe instructions, but if you feel like adding it to a dish that doesn’t call for it, you can play it safe by adding the wine a minimum of 7 minutes before the dish is done cooking.

Cooking with wine, and having a glass of wine while cooking are all part of the experience. You will be surprised by the way wine can completely transform the flavors of a dish when properly added during cooking. The good news is that as long as you are using a bottle of wine that you know you like, you can’t really screw it up! So try experimenting with some recipes that call for wine… you just might find some new favorite recipes 🙂