ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How To Cook With Alcohol

Updated on March 20, 2011

Cooking with alcoholic beverages is de rigeur in classical cuisine. It's often been referred to as the backbone of cooking. Indeed, cooking with alcohol, from the conventional beer and wine, to the more unconventional vodka and sake, is probably more prevalent in restaurants that many may think.

In many Michelin starred restaurants an inordinate number of the dishes typically prepared contain alcohol. The words sherry, wine, vermouth, Madeira and Champagne vinaigrette are found throughout the menu. Alcohol finds its way into the most unexpected dishes. A famous northern Italian specialty is penne pasta served in a vodka sauce that will knock you on your behind. Desserts are no exception, with port included in the chocolate crepe recipe, vodka in the ice cream accompanying the apple tarts and mirin in the passion fruit sauce for the chiffon cake.

Reducing is a popular process at many fine restaurants. A reduction is a liquid mixture, in this case, one made with alcohol, that has been boiled and, by evaporation, decreases in volume. The goal is to thicken the liquid while deepening the flavor. Don't believe for a moment that all the alcohol evaporates and can the result can be fed to kids. It doesn't and it can't!

Before you begin preparing your own reduction, you'll of course need to get some wine. Don't go cheap. If you buy a decent bottle of wine to cook with, you can always drink the remainder.

If you're cooking fish or poultry, opt for white wine... but there are always exceptions, of course, such as salmon or duck. Any hearty, meaty fish is fine with a red wine sauce but something light like halibut should probably be prepared with white wine. Red wines are generally good with meats.

Red wine reduction.
Red wine reduction.

Although traditional cooking methods call for reducing a white wine all the way down or until it's almost dry then building up the sauce with butter, great chefs have a different set of instructions for their cooks. You should always take the time to taste the sauce while it's reducing. With most sweet and white wines, you can reduce until the harshness is gone, but still have the flavor of the alcohol. You'll usually reach this point when the sauce is halfway reduced.

By adding the butter halfway through the process, you'll have a lighter sauce that retains the flavor of both the wine and butter. You'll also avoid the acidic taste that may result from completely reducing the wine. A reduction should be mellow, not scorched and bitter.

If you're watching your waistline you can easily cut back on the butter and fats in sauces. Rather than adding butter, oil or cheese to a reduction sauce, combine it with a puree of vegetables. If you're serving fattier dishes, a lighter sauce is a good idea and will likely be appreciated by most of your guests. With lighter foods, you can get away with heavier sauces. This is why fish, especially light ones like halibut, are often served with a buttery or creamy sauce.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)