Cooking with wine is something you may have thought only experienced chefs can accomplish. The complexities wrapped up in wine can be intimidating, but don't let that keep your cooking bottled up.
To start, keep things simple and follow the basics as you hone your skills. Just like most things, basic knowledge is key and practice makes perfect!
You may have heard it before: only cook with wine you'd drink. This is true since the food you're cooking will pick up the flavors of the wine. Don't use the special or rare bottle you've been saving for a major celebration, though. Simply use a wine that you enjoy drinking and that is accessible.
Snaking through the grocery store aisles can be a chore, but avoid the temptation to pick up a bottle of "cooking wine" you see on the shelf -- just keep walking. Generally, cooking wine includes added salt and it isn't made for drinking. If you're cooking with quality wine and using appropriate seasonings, you won't need the added sodium the cooking wines offer.
Stick with the types of wines that will enhance, not overpower, the flavor of your food. For example, if you're making a light, buttery sauce for pasta, use a white, buttery wine. If you're making a heavy, meaty stew, use a bold, red wine.
There are generally three ways to use wine in your cooking: as an ingredient for a marinade, as a liquid to cook with, and as a way to add flavor to a finished dish.
Keep in mind that wine needs to simmer with the food you're cooking to enhance its flavor. Don't add it at the end of cooking or you'll risk serving a dish with a strong, overpowering flavor. The longer you cook the wine (over low to medium heat), the more subtle the flavors.
As with most seasonings, take the attitude of "you can always add more" rather than pouring it on full-force from the start. If your taste buds tell you to add more be sure to wait about 10 minutes after your first taste so the wine has time to be absorbed.
When cooking with wine it's generally best to follow the recipe, but as you experiment, you'll get a good sense of what tastes good. General suggested amounts of wine used in cooking include the following:
We've all encountered a wine snob or two in our time, but don't let the attitude of others or fear of the unknown keep you from cooking with wine -- you might miss out on something really delicious!
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