Every chef knows that a little wine is a lovely addition to a meal and we don’t mean just in a glass beside the plate. If you’re looking for an excuse to crack open a bottle, adding wine to a recipe can add a lot of flavor and complexity to the most simple dishes. You can use wine in pasta sauces, marinades, stews and desserts.
But with so many different types of wine available, how do you know which to cook with? A basic rule of thumb, don’t buy cooking wine. You want quality wine, that doesn’t have to mean expensive, but it does mean drinkable. Here are a few other guidelines to help you add depth to your dishes.
How to cook with wine?
To cook with wine, there are certain ingredients that you would like to have. Wine plays 3 main roles. As a marination substance. As a cooking liquid and also as a way to flavor an already finished dish. The main role of a wine is to improve the already existing flavor and aroma of the food. Wine doesn’t overpower with what’s already the main food, it rather enhances the whole experience.
If you use more wine than required then you can mess up the whole dish. You should take care of the amount of wine you use. Just use a small quantity to improve the flavor of your dish. One of the major reasons why you should be aware of this fact is that wine is volatile. Whatever you use, almost everything evaporates. The only thing left is the flavor.
As a precaution, never add wine to your dish just before serving. Ideally you want the wine to simmer across the food and all the sauce that has been used in the dish. Just in case you add wine at a later stage then it will spoil the whole taste of your food.
When it comes to knowing if your wine has been mixed well across your food then you should taste your food 10 minutes after adding the wine.
10 Thumb rules of cooking with wine
- Always use the wine that you drink. Cooking wine is not a different type of wine that’s only used to cook, You need to just use the wine that you would otherwise drink. Just make sure the drink is fresh and has not been corked. Reject the wine if it tastes like vinegar. If you use a wine that has been left open for 4-5 days is usable but not any more than that.
- Just because you drink a certain type of wine shouldn’t mean you should restrict yourself to your wine type. You can also use and try different wine types like Zinfandel or Grenache.
- Don’t go behind the titles Cooking wines. They are poor in quality and often not the ones that will give you a good taste.
- You can buy good wine under a budget. There’s no need to have a high budget just to make your food taste good.
- You need to be aware of the food you’re cooking. In case you’re making food that’s slow-cooked then you need to choose your wine accordingly.
- There are multiple varieties of wines. Pinot grigio is a crisp, dry and unoaked white wine and then there is a red wine like the Merlot. Wines are also among the more aromatic characters like the Riesling or Gewurztraminer which is not much more flexible to be used everywhere.
- If you are confused and don’t know much then you can simply go after wines like sherry, madeira and marsala. They are great for cooking and add a certain amount of strength and depth to your dish
- Simmering is great if you are cooking a dish that needs to absorb all the flavors of your wine. Though the quantity which you will add should be known to you.
- If you are making a marinade then the wine can improve the taste very much. Since its just an acid ingredient. You can have it with meat, poultry or seafood.
Recipes of food that we can cook with wine
1. Mussels with White wine
Mussels with white wine is a fantastic combination. You need to spoon some aioli on a piece of toast, dunk it in the broth and eat it with some great white wine that has soaked mussels.
- Lemon Aioli
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 garlic clove, finely grated
- 1 tsp (or more) fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 4 pounds mussels, debearded, scrubbed
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- Sliced country-style bread, toasted (for serving)
- For the aioli, take egg yolk, garlic and lemon juice and put all of it in a medium bowl.
- Whisk constantly, drizzle in vegetable oil
- For mussels, heat oil in large pots over medium heat
- Add onion, season with salt and pepper and cook
- Stir often and for 5 minutes
- Add garlic and cook, now add the tomato paste and do until it darkens
- Add mussels with 1.2 cup water
- Ladle mussels and broth into shallow bowls and top with thyme; serve with bread and lemon aioli.
2. Pear Pie with red wine and rosemary
Made by the famous chef Kierin Baldwin’s pie dough method is quite special in multiple ways. Made using butter which lends rich flavor made using flakiest crusts.
- For the basic pie dough
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- ¼ cup chilled vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- Filling and assembly
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 1¾ cups dry red wine, divided
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 5 teaspoons cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 5 teaspoons all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 pounds firm but ripe pears (such as Comice, Anjou, or Bartlett), peeled, cored, thinly sliced
- 1 large egg, beaten to blend
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar or raw sugar
- Add butter and shortening and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining
- Drizzle half of egg mixture over flour mixture and, using a fork, mix gently just until combined
- Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, flatten slightly, and cut into quarters. Stack pieces on top of one another, placing unincorporated dry pieces of dough between layers, and press down to combine
- Repeat the process twice since all pieces of dough should be incorporated at this point.
- Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl. Whisking constantly, gradually add butter and whisk until syrup is smooth.
- Reduce oven temperature to 350°, rotate pie, and continue baking, tenting with foil if the crust is browning too quickly, until juices are bubbling and the crust is golden brown, 60–75 minutes longer.
3. Skirt Steak with shallot Pan sauce
Who doesn’t like a nicely cooked steak? And when a steak has been cooked using some wine then the taste just goes to another level.
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 12–14-oz. skirt steak, halved crosswise
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 small shallot, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds (any color)
- 4 sprigs thyme
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Heat oil in a large stainless-steel skillet over medium-high heat. Season steak with salt and pepper and cook, turning occasionally until deeply browned and an instant-read thermometer registers 130° (for medium-rare), 8–10 minutes.
- Put the steak on a cutting board and let it rest before slicing
- Pour off any drippings left in skillet (but do not wipe out). Reduce heat to medium and cook shallot and mustard seeds in residual fat, stirring occasionally, until shallot is softened and mustard seeds are toasted about 4 minutes.
- Cook, swirling pan occasionally until liquid is reduced by about half, about 5 minutes.
- Add butter, swirling pan to melt; season pan sauce with salt and pepper.
4. Beef Bourguignon
The beef bourguignon is a special beef that’s usually sourced from the burgundy region of France. Making it can include using white wine or even red wine. All you have to do is to ensure the temperature is perfect.
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 pounds cubed stew meat
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 cups red wine
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 (6 ounces) can sliced mushrooms
- In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt and ground black pepper. Coat the beef cubes with this mixture.
- Melt the butter or margarine in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the meat and brown well on all sides. Pour this into a 2 quart casserole dish.
- Return the skillet to the heat and add the onion, carrots and garlic to it. Saute for 5 to 10 minutes, or until onion is tender. add the wine, bay leaf, parsley, thyme, and liquid from the mushrooms. Pour over meat.
- Bake, covered, at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 2 1/2 hours. Remove cover, add canned onions and mushroom crowns, and bake for 30 more minutes.
5. Burgundy Pork Tenderloin
The burgundy pork tenderloin already has the word tender in it. What that means is the pork meat will be already cooked slowly and all you have to do is add the wine so that it simmers very nicely making it the perfect pork for parties.
- 2 pounds pork tenderloin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 2 cups red wine
- 1 (.75 ounce) packet dry brown gravy mix
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- Place pork in a 9x13 inch baking dish, and sprinkle meat with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Top with onion and celery, and pour wine overall.
- Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes.
- When done baking, remove meat from baking dish, and place on a serving platter. Pour gravy mix into baking dish with wine and cooking juices, and stir until thickened. Slice meat, and cover with gravy.
Difference between cooking with cooking wine, regular wine and red wine
Red or White?
Wine is very versatile and the components determine which food it will pair best with. Consider the sweetness, acidity and whether or not it’s been oaked as these will all play a role in the final flavor of the dish. If the wine will pair well with a meal it will usually also taste good in the dish itself.
Red wine is used in cooking hearty dishes and meals with meat. Dry red wines are great for tomato sauces, wine reduction sauces and Bourguignonne Sauce. Sweet reds are delicious in a berry compote. Choose a Cabernet Sauvignon for a pot roast or beef cheeks while a Sangiovese is adds depth to a simple marinara sauce.
Most versatile red for cooking = Merlot.
White wine has acidity and structure that make is perfect for light dishes and dressings. The acid in the wine means you can cut back on other acidic ingredients in the recipe such as lemon or vinegar. Add to a cream sauce, soups and to marinate seafood. Use an unoaked white such as pinot grigio for delicate fish and shrimp scampi, and an aromatic Riesling in a creamy white sauce for chicken.
Most versatile white for cooking = Pinot Grigio. Feel free to experiment, after all that’s what cooking is all about. Cheers!
1. Is it healthy to cook with wine
Yes, cooking with wine is totally healthy. Just make sure you are aware of the expiry date of the wine and also the correct combination of the wine that goes with it.
2. How long can you keep wine for cooking?
If you have opened the wine then that wine can be used for a maximum of 4-5 days, if your wine has been left open for more than that then you should not be using that wine.
3. Does cooking wine has alcohol?
Yes, any type of wine that you use will have some proportion of alcohol in it. In Fact anything that has been fermented has alcohol in it.
Choose wine and ingredients from a similar region. Food and wine from the same region will naturally complement each other. The grapevines were surrounded by the same types of herbs and vegetables in dishes from that region so they will pair nicely on the table. When cooking an Italian meal, buy an Italian wine and add a little to the dish to intensify the flavors.