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Cooking with White Wine

SS Member Image By ajr1005 12.01.08
Cooking with White Wine
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Don’t just drink white wine; cook with it. That’s right: I’m talking about your white wine. Add a splish here and a splash there to the various dishes you whip up, and watch (and taste) as you enliven the flavors in the dish. But don’t just use any old white. And don’t just add it at any old time. Below are essential details that will ensure the food you cook with wine doesn’t drown in the wine, but thrive in it.

First of all, never, ever use cooking wine. In fact, stay away from any wine you wouldn’t drink, for it will affect the flavor of the dish in a negative way, to say the least. The bottles you will find on supermarket shelves tend to be harsh and unbalanced (either too salty or too sweet), and the acidity and astringency will only intensify with cooking. What you want is a balanced wine.

"First of all, never, ever use cooking wine. In fact, stay away from any wine you wouldn't drink, for it will affect the flavor of the dish in a negative way..."

The type of wine you use is important, and should reflect the main flavors of the dish - or at least the flavors you are trying to play up. For example, the buttery, often rich flavors in Chardonnay augment the richness and buttery character of a cream sauce, just as a crisp Sauvignon Blanc enhances a tangy chicken piccata. Although using a crisp white in a cream sauce will not damage the sauce, it will taste different from one made with a creamier variety. In short, the flavors inherent in a varietal (from citrus, to apple, to grass, to oak, and so on) will characterize the dish’s flavor.

Timing is another key when cooking with wine. Because alcohol can potentially give a dish harsh flavors, WHEN you add wine to a dish matters. Alcohol’s harshness is softened during the simple act of heating and cooking wine; as the alcohol evaporates (although never completely as long as there is liquid of some sort in the pan), the harsh flavors of the alcohol disappear. At the same time, the characteristic flavors of the wine intensify and deepen beautifully. Therefore, it is wise to reduce wine first, and then add other ingredients to complete the sauce. Adding wine at the end of the cooking process is not recommended, unless you want pure wine taste in the sauce.

Techniques abound when it comes to cooking with wine, and other than sautéing and marinating, cooks can macerate (soaking meat in a liquid in order to soften it), deglaze (dissolving the remaining morsels of roasted or sautéed food in a pot or pan by adding and heating liquid), simmer (cooking gently or remaining at or just below the boiling point), and poach (cooking in a simmering liquid). And what to cook with white wine? Stick with fish, chicken, veal, cream sauces, olive oil pasta sauces - and stay away from the red meat. But you probably already knew that, didn’t you?

Now stop reading, and start cooking with that bottle of white wine you’ve been wanting to try - and of course pour yourself a glass while you read over the recipe.


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    i love to make chicken piccata with white wine even my husband was sold..and he is really picky when it comes to food..the tip with red wine in red pasta sauce is interresting im gonna try that soon.

  • crystalkitten By crystalkitten

    I love to cook with wine, both red and white. I have tons of recipes I use a nice Chardonnay in. I never buy cooking wine, I just buy a good bottle in the $10-12 range and cook. It is usually only 1/2 cup or less per recipe so I also cook while DRINKING the wine too! It is always the best time. I LOVE to cook.

  • LaneyB By LaneyB

    i love to cook with both white and red wine. it enriches the food..Of course as cook you drink a glass while you cook!

  • snickerdoodle By snickerdoodle

    i love to cook risotto with chicken stock and white wine. it great to sip on it too while waiting for your meal to cook. its best to cook with wine that is good enough to drink too

  • poalady44 By poalady44

    I enjoyed this this article.I personally cannot imagine NOT cooking with wine(red or white).I have found that it adds such wonderful flavor to sauces,meats,and marinades.I prefer white wines when preparing fish and poultry dishes and red wine for beef and pork dishes.I have found that wine also helps tenderize tough cuts of meat along with the added flavor.Wine also helps to take the "gamey flavor" out of venison and game birds such as quail,duck and wild turkey.

  • cellis46 By cellis46

    Yes add more recipes I like to try new recipes with white wine

  • jharvilla By jharvilla

    I love to cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food. (lol) I often search out recipes that include wine. I add red wine to my pasta sauce to add a little extra flavor. I would love to try MyLittlePrincessK's turkey gravy with white wine.

  • GeologyMom By GeologyMom

    We add red wine to some of our crock pot dishes--beef stew and pot roasts. Other than white wine in fondue, I'm not sure what else we've added it to for cooking. It would be nice to have a couple recipes listed in this article.

  • MyLittlePrincessK By MyLittlePrincessK

    We make a white wine gravy to go with our turkey and it is simply the best gravy you have ever tasted!

  • tfair35000 By tfair35000

    add a little red wine to your homemade red pasta enhances the flavor. I know many people who add sugar to their sauce. If you add a sweeter red then you can pass on the sugar.

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