Now that I have more space to cook and experiment, I've been looking up more detailed tips for cooking with wine. While pairing the right wine with your entree is important for a flawless culinary experience, whether you're having a weekly dinner or an intimate date, learning to properly cook with wine is just as vital. The right vintage adds so much to your stews, sauces, and marinades – plus the cook always gets a glass. If you'd like to branch out and experience more on your own foodie journey, let me share some of the most valuable tips for cooking with wine I've found – and please feel free to add your own!
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Less Fat, More Moisture
If you're trying to eat healthier and avoid cooking with oils or butter, then this is one of the most helpful tips for cooking with wine I have for you. Fats add flavor to your cooking, true, but more importantly, they add moisture. A lot of people don't give up their olive oil or fresh butter when sauteing or creating new marinades because they're afraid that the meat will end up dry. However, you can use a wine that pairs well with the food (more on that shortly) you want to saute, fry, marinate, or even bake. The wine adds plenty of moisture, it contains acids ideal for marinades, and it's flavorful.
Perfect Your Pastry Skills
As briefly mentioned, wine is also a great replacement for fat in certain types of baked goods and pastries. You'll have to do a little research before blinding pouring vino into the mix, but there are lots of pastries and cakes that really benefit from wine. It creates a wonderfully light texture, plus it adds several rich layers of flavor that you won't get otherwise.
Practice Fab Flavor Pairings
Flavor pairings are important no matter how you use wine. You wouldn't serve a wine at dinner without making sure it complements the course, right? The wine you use in cooking needs to complement whatever dish you're making as well. White wines generally have lighter flavors and hints, so they taste delicious with many fruits, such as pears and apples, citrus fruits, and melons. White wines are also great with vanilla and caramel for desserts or things like mushrooms and olives for appetizers and main courses. Dry whites are great with nearly any kind of white or light meat, plus they work in creamy sauces; use crisp whites in seafood based soups and sherry in soups based around poultry or veggies. Red wines pair well with fruits like peaches, plums, oranges, berries, currants, and cherries, along with chocolate and coffee. Stick to something earthy when you're serving red meat, soups containing lots of root vegetables, or darker stocks. Go for the robust when you're trying to make darker sauces.
The Secret behind the Sugar
You might prefer drinking sweet wines, but be careful when you're cooking with them. Look instead for dry wines in white or red, because those don't contain nearly as much sugar. If you cook with a sweet wine, the dish will taste sweeter – and that's okay if that's what you're going for, but if it's not, you'll end up disappointed.
Timing is Everything
You can't just throw in a couple cups of wine when you're about ready to serve. When you do that, the alcohol doesn't have any time to burn off, so you're left with a dish that basically tastes like you just added a bunch of wine to it. You have to add wine toward the beginning of the cooking process, not only so that the alcohol has time to burn off but also so that it can infuse and mix with all the meats and vegetables in the dish. Remember that it will take a while for this to happen, so always wait at least 15-20 minutes before tasting or blindly adding another dash of wine. If you taste your dish right away, you'll think it hasn't blended yet, but it just needs a few minutes.
De-glaze for Deliciousness
Lots of cooks marinate their meats and vegetables with wine, but you can't beat de-glazing. If you want a rich, concentrated sauce filled with subtle hints of the flavors in the wine you chose, make a sauce or gravy using the de-glazing process. It's not that hard once you get the hang of it. The hardest part is timing the reduction; never walk away from the stove when you're de-glazing! Remember that the sauce or gravy gets thicker the longer it heats.
Cut the Cooking Wine
This might be kind of controversial. Cooking wine is pretty affordable, after all, and lots of people use it. However, you can buy a decent bottle of wine for less than $10, and it's so much better than cooking wine, which is just so salty. It's hard to cook with, because it can easily change your whole flavor profile. Even if you have to go the cheapest route and buy a $5 bottle of wine, it will taste much better in your dishes than this stuff.
Some of these might seem a bit simple or self explanatory, but if you're not used to cooking with wine, they'll definitely come in handy! Remember, don't be afraid to experiment with your own recipes and techniques. You might come across your own signature flavor profile! Do you have any other tips you'd like to share about cooking with wine? Recipes are also appreciated!
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