Cooking with wine can be intimidating. What wine do you use? At what point do you add it? What type of dishes benefit from a little splash? All these questions can sometimes be enough to push the wine to the back burner – but fear not!
We’ve gone ahead to create a guide with all the important information you will need to create your next amazing dish with wine.
What Wines can I Cook With?
When picking out what wines you are going to be using for your dish, a good rule of thumb is using wines that you would happily drink. Remember, when using wine to add flavour, most if not all of the alcohol will be cooked out, leaving the flavours in the wine to mingle with your dish. If you don’t like to drink it, you’re probably not going to like eating it!
When cooking with red wines, use wines that are lower in tannins and that are fruit-forward. These red and dark fruit flavours add depth, but similarly to white wine, the acidity in the wine will also elevate the other flavours in your dish. Try a young red blend, like this one or a young Pinot Nero like this one.
If you’d like to cook with a white wine instead, try to find wines that are dry, bright, and acidic, also known as “crisp” wines. These wines are especially great since they will lend their citrus and green apple notes to your final dish. A Sauvignon Blanc like this one or Pinot Grigio like this one will work great!
Remember, there are a lot of decent wines, at decent prices, and you should save and store your fancier bottles for a special night. Cooking with an expensive bottle of wine is not recommended as the heat will cook out the finer nuances that you’ve paid for, or worked so hard cellaring your wine for.
What Wines Should I Avoid When Cooking?
For your reds, you’ll want to avoid tannin-heavy wines as these can make your dish bitter and can accentuate that “dry” feeling in your mouth that you can get from these wines.
With your whites, avoid oaked wines, as these can reduce to add bitter and chalky flavours to your dish, which you definitely do not want.
Most cooking wines that you pass by in the grocery store should probably be left right there on the shelf. While this is not true for all of them, cooking wines are usually filled with a lot of sodium, preservatives and sugars. These can make your final dish overly sweet, salty, and sometimes they can leave your dish tasting metallic.
How Can I Incorporate my Wine When Cooking?
Red wines are predominantly used to add flavour to a dish while white wines are used to alter or change the flavour of a dish- through their acidity.
You’ll want to use your red wines in dishes that use meats and proteins like roast beef, or a coq a vin, since the tannins in the wine will bind to the proteins in your dish, mellowing and balancing the flavours out. You can also incorporate red wines into desserts like with poached pears, or a fudge sauce.
Use white wines in a pasta dish like a white wine pasta sauce. They also work extremely well with seafood dishes like shrimp scampi, or mussels in a white wine broth. The acidity and freshness in the wine complements the fresh seafood and brightens the flavours up.
When Should I Add my Wine?
When cooking with wine, it is important to remember that the alcohol in the wine has to be cooked off. You don’t want to end up with a boozy dish at the end of the night.
A good rule of thumb is to add your wine in at the beginning of your dish, and to reduce your total liquid by half, before you are ready to serve.
This will ensure that the flavours in the wine and your dish mingle and incorporate nicely but it also ensures that most, if not all the alcohol in the wine is cooked out.
Can I use Leftover Wine to Cook With?
Uncorked wines usually last 3-4 days at most before oxidising and turning into vinegar! If you use leftover wines, ensure they are still drinkable, and not off. An off wine will just sour your dish!
Storing Your “Cooking” Wine!
So you’ve used your wine in your dish and now want to put it away but don’t know how?
Well, first, since it’s a drinkable wine, drink away!
If you’re not in the mood to drink it, you’ll want to use a stopper and store it upright in the fridge for upto 4-5 days at most.
At the end of the day, the best way to cook with wine is to have fun with it, it’s an experience after all. Sip, taste, and savour the flavours, and do what feels right to you. With the tips in this guide, the great wines we’ve suggested, and your brave curiosity, we’re confident that you’ll be cooking great dishes in no time at all!
At WineCollective, we love wine (obviously)! And we love to share everything that we know about wine with our members. If you enjoyed learning about cooking with wine and want to learn more, taste some amazing exclusive bottles from around the world and develop your taste – or as the wine snobs call it, your palate – then check out our monthly wine subscriptions!