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10 Tips on How To Use Wine for Cooking

Updated on September 19, 2010
pasta cooked with wine
pasta cooked with wine
cook veggies with white wine
cook veggies with white wine

Cooking with wine enhances the flavor of your dish, making your meal more appetizing than usual. If done right, you can bring out rich flavours of meat, fish, poultry, and desserts so you can enjoy a more hearty meal. Wine signifies passion, love, celebration, camaraderie, and success. It is also known for its health benefits, as proven by the “French Paradox”.

Spread some love in your kitchen, use wine for cooking to draw attention to a special dish when you have guests coming for dinner. Some people actually cook with wine even if they’re preparing a meal just for themselves or for the family. It’s quite alright to use a little wine for dishes your kids will eat as long as you simmer it long enough for most of the alcohol to evaporate. This will leave only concentrated flavors of the wine. I think kids would get a stronger buzz with cough syrup than with food cooked with wine.

Some people hesitate to use wine for cooking because they are not familiar with how to cook with wine. Here are 10 helpful tips about cooking with wine and suggestions on which wine to use for certain types of food.

1. You don’t have to buy expensive wine for cooking. A $5 to $8 bottle of wine should do just fine. Rule of thumb is, cook with wine that you would want to drink. Avoid using “cooking wine” as these are low quality wines with additives that will not flavor your dishes well.

2. Adding cold wine during the cooking process tends to make meat tough. Use wine at room temperature. Adding warm wine also helps to tenderize meat.

3. You can use wine for basting meat and poultry. Combine some wine and oil, then drizzle the mixture over the meat while you barbecue.

4. Never boil the wine while you cook. Boiling increases acidity or sweetness depending on the type of wine you use.

5. Add wine in the early or middle stages of cooking. The alcohol evaporates as your dish simmers, leaving only the taste of wine that blends in with the flavor of your food. The longer you cook the wine, the less alcohol is left in your dish. Never add the wine before serving the dish. Doing this will make the flavors too harsh or bitter.

6. If you are cooking for 2 to 4 servings, add a couple of ounces of wine first. It takes about 10 to 15 minutes for the wine to reveal its flavor. Taste it after 10 minutes if it needs more wine.

7. Don’t add wine to all the dishes in one meal. Don’t overwhelm the meal, highlight one dish that will taste especially well with wine.

8. Add a twist to your brown gravy by putting in a teaspoon or two of full-bodied red wine while your gravy simmers.

9. Serve the same wine you used for cooking with your meal. Wine will not last long once the bottle is opened. You might as well enjoy it together with your meal. If you prefer to drink fine wine while dining, stick to the same family of wine so that your beverage and food will complement each other.

10. General rule of cooking with wine regarding which wine to use for particular foods is to use red wine for cooking beef, lamb, and duck. White wine for dessert, dishes with fruit, fish, and poultry. Dry whites are also good for cream based sauces, and dishes with butter and herbs.

Culinary connoisseurs may argue about which wine to use for what kind of dish. There are certain types of meat that are better with full bodied reds, while others will taste better with earthy red wine. There are whites that are dry, dry fortified, sweet, and crisp that go with specific types of seafood, meat (i.e. veal and pork), soups, poultry, desserts, and sauces.

Then, there are certain rules about using wine for cooking spicy food. The list goes on, and we’ll touch on those at another time. For now, you can try your hand at cooking with wine and follow the general rule on which wine to use for what. Once you get the hang of it, you can experiment further with more specific wines for certain dishes.


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    • anatrenas profile image

      anatrenas 7 years ago

      Thank you Amy, and congratulations for winning the contest. More articles about cooking and wine coming up.

    • Road Trip Amy profile image

      Road Trip Amy 7 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      This is an awesome hub! I just recently started experimenting with wine in my cooking, and I'm loving it. Your tips will be really helpful as I continue learning. Thanks for sharing your tips, welcome to HubPages, and thanks for following me!

    • anatrenas profile image

      anatrenas 7 years ago

      You're welcome gudscanned! I'll be posting more about cooking, wine, and other stuff soon. Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment.