Cooking with Wine
May is “wine month” in Oregon, which inspired me to record an episode all about cooking with wine! The first part of the show deals with wine in general, and goes into high-level detail about red and white wines. I figure before we can talk about cooking with wine, we should probably understand a little more about wine itself. If you are a wine expert, brace yourself for some oversimplifications :). Listen to the episode for all the details!
My “Go-To” Wines for Cooking
Depending on what type of wine a recipe calls for, here are my basic “go-to” wine varieties:
Sweet white: Riesling or Moscasto
Dry white: Viognier or Chardonnay
All-around white: Pinot Gris/Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc
Light red: Pinot Noir
Dry/Bold red: Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon
All-around red: Merlot
Tips for Cooking with Wine
I offer several tips in the episode about cooking with wine. I’ve summarized them below. Listen to the full episode for even more tips I haven’t listed here!
Avoid the “cooking wine” sold in supermarkets
First of all, this stuff isn’t even wine. It’s more like sodium-infused cough syrup, only less flavorful. Don’t even go there…just get real wine.
Wine as a marinade
Wine can add wonderful flavor to meats as a marinade. Just don’t go for long marinades as the acidity of the wine can turn the texture of meat mushy after a couple of hours.
How much should I spend on a bottle of wine for cooking?
You’ve probaby heard the advice to “only cook with wine you would want to drinl.” This isn’t terrible advice, but there’s no reason to spend a lot of money on wine you plan to cook with. For longer cooking dishes you will lose a lot of the characteristics that differentiate “ok” wine from “good” wine.
Think of wine as a “high note”
Adding wine to a dish is basically adding acid to a dish. It works wonders as a compliment to rich, fatty dishes (think a big hunk of beef on a slow braise). Wine can get lost in a dish that is already bright and acidic.
Try to add wine early, and alone
The earlier you add wine to a dish the longer it will have to cook down and lose that “raw” wine flavor. Unless you are going for a true flavor of the wine (using probably a very good wine) it’s usually not a good idea to add it right before serving. Adding wine by itself and letting it cook down is also a good idea (as opposed to adding it at the same time as other liquids, like broth, for example).
Rule of thumb: lighter wine with lighter dishes
There are no hard and fast rules, but try matching the wine with the type of dish you are making. White wines work well with lighter proteins like chicken or fish, while red wines work well with beef, lamb, and pork.
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