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Orange Coast Winery

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Douglas Wiens
 
January 24, 2018 | Douglas Wiens

6 Things to Know About Cooking with Wine

Before you add wine to that recipe

Cooking with wine can give your meal that extra dash of flavor. According to What’s Cooking America, wine can be used “…as a marinade ingredient, as a cooking liquid and as a flavoring in a finished dish.”

However, you need to be careful how wine is used. It should always enhance the flavor and aroma of a dish rather than overpower other flavors.

We’ve put together a list of 6 things to remember when cooking with wine.

1. Choose a wine you like.

This is the #1 tip for a reason. It’s important to choose a wine that you actually like to drink. Think about it: if you don’t like the taste of a certain wine, why would you like it in your food? What’s Cooking America also recommends staying away from cooking wines. “These wines are typically salty and include additives that may affect the taste of your chosen dish or menu. The process of cooking/reducing will bring out the worst in an inferior wine.”

As for price, you don’t need to pick a premium or expensive wine to get great flavor, but cheap wine could ruin dinner.

Also, pay attention to the components of wine. According to Wine Enthusiast, “Wine contains sugars, acids and tannins, and each of these will show up on the plate … To maintain balance, check your recipe for acidic ingredients like lemon juice or vinegar and cut back to make room for the acid in the wine.”

2. White or red wine … which type is best to use?

This choice will again come down to what you are cooking. Red wine makes a great marinade, as it helps enhance the food’s “inner” flavor. It also brings out the color and essence of the dish while adding dryness so it tastes less sugary. By contrast, white wine actually alters the flavor of food. Dishes may taste sharper.

White wine suggestions: Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay

  • Sauvignon Blanc has high acidity so it works well with cream sauces. Pinot Grigio is ideal for poaching, while Chardonnay has the most complex flavors.
  • White wines will often have flavor notes that include citrus, vanilla, caramel, and fruits; so, select wines with those flavors to enhance what you’re cooking.

Red wine suggestions: Lighter reds such as Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and Malbec

  • Flavor notes of red wine include plums, cherries, berries, chocolate, coffee, and mushrooms, so they pair well with those ingredients.

Wine Enthusiast recommends using the same type of wine you serve with the dinner. One word of caution: “When you’re cooking with red wine, watch out for tannins. When concentrated in reduction sauces, they can become harsh. Fortunately, proteins found in meat and dairy declaw tannins…”

3. Think about what you’re cooking when choosing a wine.

Are you making a main dish with protein such as meat, chicken, or fish? Maybe the wine is for a dessert? Sweeter dessert and fortified wines go best with desserts, as they help caramelize and create delicious sauces. In contrast, beef and pork require a more full-bodied wine, while chicken and fish generally do better with more acidic white wines. Of course, there are always ways to mix it up. Salmon might cook perfectly with the right red wine, for example.

4. Understand how wine will be used.

Your choice of wine will have a lot to do with the type of dish you’re planning to make.

Some chefs will use a lower quality wine if they’re making a braise, which means the dish will be cooking for a long time. If you need wine as a finishing flavor, choose something of higher quality to really enhance the taste.

5. Use the proper amount of wine.

Cooking with wine is a delicate balancing act. Too little and you won’t get enough flavor. Too much and the wine will overpower everything else. You want to be like Goldilocks and get the amount just right. It actually doesn’t take much to do the job.

6. Know when to add wine.

Cooking in general is about timing, from how long something should bake to when it’s time to get the dish out of the oven. When cooking with wine, never add it right before serving. If the wine is added too late, it won’t have time to reduce and the flavor may be too harsh. You should also be careful about adding more wine right away if you fear it’s not enough. A good rule of thumb is to wait ten minutes and then taste to see if the wine has worked its magic on the flavor.

Wine serves as a great flavor enhancer in your dish. Use it wisely and you will be amazed by the results. Whether you plan to cook with wine or just drink it, Orange Coast Winery offers excellent choices. Look at our selections and enhance your next meal or party.

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