While we all enjoy drinking wine, there are other uses for it at times. One of those uses is cooking. Think of the classic dishes like Beef Bourguignon, Coq au Vin, Mussels in White Wine and Cioppino. They would not be the same without using wine for enhanced flavors. Sometimes wine also assists with cooking, such as, deglazing a pan. It is recommended to use wine versus water or stock because the wine can dissolve both water and oil-soluble particles.
When recipes call for wine to be used though, many people wonder what kind of wine they should be using. Wine Curations is here to help.
When choosing a wine to cook with, there is one rule that is very important…never cook with wine that you would not drink! Any flavors in the wine will only be enhanced when it cooks. This means avoiding cheap cooking wines, corked wines and wines that have been open too long and are oxidized. The good thing about using a wine you like, is that you can also enjoy it as you cook and with the meal!
Dishes like risotto or cream based sauces like beurre blanc and béarnaise benefit from the enhanced flavors of white wine. Using white wine in these cream based sauces instead of vinegar can make them more complex and less acidic. For cheese fondue, the white wine’s tartaric acid actually helps with the texture and prevents coagulation.
It is best to use a dry, crisp wine, such as, pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc. You want to avoid oaky wines so an unoaked chardonnay would also work well. The sweetness and acidity of any wine used will be more pronounced once the alcohol cooks off so keep that in mind based on how much of either you want in the final flavors. Some desserts will benefit more from an off-dry wine like riesling to enhance its flavors.
Red wine can complement meat based dishes, broths and stews. It is great for braised items like short ribs or brisket. The acid in the wine can balance some of the richness from these dishes. While many of us think of white wine with risotto, a bit of red wine can go great in it if you are using ingredients that typically pair well with red wine, such as, mushrooms.
The best red wines to use for cooking tend to be medium bodied and not too tannic since the tannins will become more pronounced once cooked. Think of something like a merlot, syrah or grenache. An inexpensive Côtes du Rhone can be found at most stores and is a great option. If a dish does become a little too tannic, a bit of butter can help.
Rosé wines can also be used since they have both white and red wine qualities. They would be great to deglaze a pan for pork chops or to use when poaching fruit. Making a rosé glaze for desserts is also a great idea!
When choosing a rosé, you will want to go with something dry and has nice acidity like you would with the white wine. A Provence rosé or rosé from New Zealand are typically good options.
One thing to note, not all the alcohol will cook off. There is typically a little left so remember that when cooking for children or non-drinkers.