Wednesday, March 4, 2015

5 Tips For Cooking with Wine

I’m sure you’ve heard the old line: “I love cooking with wine, sometimes I even put it in the food.” And it's true! There are numerous dishes that are amazingly better with the addition of a bit of wine, beer or liqueur. Alcohol also makes a wonderful tenderizer and marinade. But just what percentage of alcohol remains in the food when you’re done?

Let's take a look at five tips for cooking with wine and how much of it remains in the final dish.

1) What wine to use? 
It's your choice. There are numerous cooking wines available, but you can also use what’s left from the bottle you opened last night, as long as it pairs well with the dish.

2) Wine is not a main flavor ingredient. 
Wine and other liqueurs are used as an ingredient to bring out the dish's flavor. And sometime, for the WOW factor of a visual presentation.

3) Wine is best cooked at a lower temperature.
Wine is usually added to a sauce then simmered slowly in order to concentrate those sublime flavors while it is also reducing the alcohol content.

4) Always simmer the wine first. 
Then if called for, you can add any cream, broths or stock to the recipe and not cover up the heightened flavors provided by the wine.

5) Pay attention to the time. 
Cook the wine on too high of heat for too long and the flavors can become acidic and burnt. Cooking with wine is more of a slow, simmering process.

The US Department of Agriculture has calculated the percentage of alcohol remaining in a dish based on the heat temperature used and the amount of time it took to cook the dish.

• Alcohol added to boiling liquid and removed from heat retains 85%
• Alcohol that is flamed (Flambé) retains 75%
• Alcohol added without heat and food is stored in overnight (marinade) retains 70%
• Alcohol that is stirred into a mixture and baked retains as follows:

Time in Hours               % of Alcohol Retained
15 minutes                            40%
30 minutes                            35%
1 hour                                   25%
1.5 hours                              20%
2 hours                                 10%
2.5 hours                              5%

Cooking with wine will add extra moisture to a dish and help reduce the need for oils and fats. Usually white wine goes best with more delicate dishes: fish and chicken with veggies, while red wines are hardier and can give highly seasoned meats and side dishes an interesting depth. Don’t be afraid to experiment – and enjoy the results.

~ Joy