Photo by Wanda Haynes

Wanda Haynes,

Certified Sommelier

Wine is an amazing culinary achievement that can elevate a boring recipe into a gourmet delight. 

It’s smart to use a mid-priced wine when cooking and save the high-end wines for drinking or to serve with the finished dish. Remember that alcohol cooks out of the dish and only the wine’s flavors and smells remain.

Check the recipe for acidic ingredients to ensure harmony, lemon juice or vinegars should be reduced to make room for the acid in the wine. 

The word “reduction” is important when cooking with any wine. Reduction is when the sauce is cooked down to a consistency that will coat the back of a spoon. This means water has been signifyingly reduced and flavors are concentrated.

Never add wine to a dish after it’s been cooked, this doesn’t work, and the entire dish will suffer. Wine can also deglaze the pan after sautéing meat or veggies.

Red wine in a recipe

Red wine can help tenderize red meat as well as complement its flavors, and the acidity makes a great marinade for cheaper cuts of beef. Game meats are often described as “gamey” tasting and the addition of dry red wine will help eliminate these issues. Light, medium, and full-bodied dry red wine can be used when cooking red meat dishes.

Venison will seem more sophisticated with a dry red wine marinade, and joined by rosemary, shallots, and pink peppercorns. This is an economical way to use left over red wine and create new recipes. 

Beef stew is a meat that requires a long cooking process and dry red wine will help break down sinew and fat. Use imagination when cooking and don’t be intimidated to experiment with wine.

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