The Pleasures of Cooking with Wine
"I love cooking with wine—sometimes I even put it in the food.” - Julia Child
Julia - I couldn’t agree more! Cooking with wine means you add a little to the food and a little to your glass. Cooking and wine go hand in hand - or should I say hand to mouth? ;)
Cooking with wine dates back to ancient times when fermenting was used to preserve foods. While it was added to foods for preservation purposes, wine was found to also enhance food flavor. There are no two wines that are alike thus the array of flavors is limitless. I love cooking with wine because it can add a unique depth of flavor (and gives you an excuse to open a good bottle for sipping on while cooking).
Which Wine Should I Use?
A question I’m often am asked when teaching wine and cooking classes is “What wine should I cook with and is cooking wine the best”? My answer is always rhetorical; I ask “What wine do you like to drink?” I then say “That is the wine you should cook with.” If you like the flavor of a wine that is the flavor you will be left with after the alcohol cooks off. Never add anything to your food that you don’t like the taste of on its own. Never ever cook with cooking wine. If you don’t believe me open a bottle of this nasty stuff and try drinking it. You don’t need to spend an arm and a leg on the wine either. There are plenty of good $10-$15 bottles that work well.
Red or White Wine?
Think of flavoring a recipe with wine in the same way you would by adding a spice or herb. If you want a deep rich berry flavor, try cooking with wines like cabernets, merlots and burgundies.
- Red: Red wine typically goes well with red meats, red sauces and any hearty meaty dishes that can stand up to it’s bold taste.
- White: If the flavor your after is fruity, fresh and clean go with pinot gris, chardonnay or Rieslings. The rule for cooking with white wines is to use it in cream sauces, white meats or seafood.
Marinating with Wine
Although cooking with wine is delicious, another great use for wine is in marinades. The purpose behind marinades is to tenderize and flavor. Because of wine’s high acidity level it works well on breaking down toughs cuts of meat and like cooking with wine it adds layers of flavor like no other. The next question is what wines marinate well with what types of meats? My best answer is to marinate with wines that you would serve with the meal. If you want to learn more about wine pairing, I recommend the following link: http://www.winetomatch.com/
Host a Food and Wine Tasting
Perhaps the best use for wine is pairing it with the foods you eat. If done right the combination of flavors can be an exciting taste explosion in your mouth. Wine is meant to enhance the flavor of food and even create an all together new flavor when combined with the right wines. So how does one know what pairs well?
The rules are simple, white pairs with white meat, red pairs with red meats and spicy hot foods pair with sweeter fruity wines.
Of course these are very simple rules and there are always variations. If you really want to understand how food pairs with wine do a tasting with several different foods that represent sweet, salty, bitter, and sour.
- Foods. For example, take chocolate for sweet, granny smith apple for sour, cured meats for salty, and grapefruit for bitter.
- Wines. Next line up several red wines that range from deep Cabernets to lighter Beaujolais. Then line up a range of whites from oaky chardonnays to fruity sweet Rieslings.
Take a bite of food and sip several wines one at a time rinsing and cleansing your palate in between. Note how the same sour green apple tastes remarkably different with each wine. It’s similar to the difference between drinking orange juice right after brushing your teeth or with bacon and eggs. Bacon and eggs are clearly better matched for orange juice than toothpaste.
What’s for Dinner?
Mussels in White Wine Sauce
"Mussels steamed in white wine and served in a sauce made from the cooking liquid with butter and shallots is a classic French preparation of mussels, moules mariniere. This is Guy’s method for moules mariniere, the way he grew up making it in France, and one of the easiest and loveliest ways of preparing mussels. It is wonderful for an appetizer or a light lunch, and excellent with a glass of white wine and some crusty bread." Recipe HERE!
Shallots in Red Wine Sauce
"Glistening whole shallot bulbs in a dripping red wine sauce...glam rock a weeknight dinner with rubies from the onion family!" Recipe HERE!
14 Hands Vineyard's Beef Bouriguignon
"This was a delicious and hearty meal. I had to add some extra spice as I found the wine overpowered all other flavors. With a few dashes here and there from my seasoning cabinet, the meal ended up perfect." Recipe HERE!
Spiced Red Wine Poached Pears
"If you're celebrating Christmas in July - or even if you're not - these beautifully spiced pears make the perfect winter dessert." Recipe HERE!