Cooking with wine and perfecting the recipes will take a while and lots of practice. Anyone can add a bit of wine in any recipe and hope for a miracle. Not many people can use wine effectively in different recipes wherein not only would the wine exude its flavors and impart its natural wonders but the food will also benefit from the addition. There are many ways you can use wine in your cooking. You can sauté, marinade, cook or bake with wine. Be sure to remember these six things when cooking with wine.
• Excluding a few special recipes, wine is almost always an optional ingredient. You must note that wine replaces one or more ingredients in the traditional or more conventional recipe. For instance, if your primary cooking medium is oil or butter, depending on what you are preparing, then wine will demand that you reduce the quantity of oil or butter respectively. Wine is heavy, regardless of how bold or light it is and what type of flavor or aroma it has. You don’t want the wine and the oil or butter to weigh the whole dish down. You don’t want the dish to be unnecessarily rich in fats either.
• You can sauté vegetables in wine instead of using oil or butter. You can use wine instead of water in many recipes. This limits the amount of moisture you introduce and also adds a distinct flavor. You can marinade various ingredients or even use wine for garnishing. The specific use will boil down to the type of wine. You may use red wine, white wine or dessert wine. You may use dry wine or sweet wine. Sweet wine has more natural sugars. Dry wine usually has higher alcohol content. You can choose either depending on the needs of the recipe.
• Always note the tannins present in a particular wine you have chosen. All wines have a certain acidic characteristic. This is not a concern as it can help extract the natural flavors in foods that have subtle flavors and aromas. Tannins in red wines work really well with meats. They also cleanse the palate. If you are cooking something that already had a rich aroma and bold flavor, limit the use of wine. Opt for a wine that has less tannin and is less acidic.
• You should always cook a dish on low flame or simmer when you use wine. Some people experiment with recipes and may use wine in a rapidly cooking food. This works well in dishes that are being prepared for one person or at the most two servings. You cannot afford to burn the wine the moment it hits the pan. Wine is best used in slow cook ovens or when you simmer a dish for a really long time. While wine does have some moisture, it doesn’t have as much as water. You don’t want to get rid of all the moisture in a few seconds and be left with the acids and tannins. A bit of moisture must be retained to have the natural flavor and the desired aroma.
• When you are cooking any food that has a subtle flavor, use a light wine. Go for whites and avoid earthy wines. When you are cooking something that has a bold flavor and strong aroma, you can go for bold wines and they can be earthier. The thumb rule is white wines for fish and chicken, red wines for beef and lamb. Pork works well with both red and white wines.
• Use the flavor of the wine. Every wine has a distinct flavor that emulates the natural characteristic of another food, usually a fruit. This is regardless of the price of the wine and how old it is. A white wine can have flavors ranging from melon to pear, apple to pineapple, citrus to caramel, mushroom to olive or vanilla. Red wine can emulate natural flavor of peach, plum, berry, currant, orange, cherry, coffee or chocolate.