Cooking with Wine

I cook with wine.  Sometimes I even add it to the food.  (W. C. Fields)

I've always been a fan of W. C. Fields.

I've always been a fan of cooking with wine – in both senses.

If you don't regularly use wine in cooking, and even if you do, here is some info you might find interesting.

First: Allow me to address the 'alcohol evaporation' myth.

If you add alcohol to a boiling liquid, then remove it from heat, you retain 85% of the alcohol.
     An example is adding a bit of sherry to finish a cream soup or sauce.

If you flame the alcohol you retain 75%. 
     An example would be Cherries Jubilee.

For braising, simmering, and slow-cooking the amount of alcohol retained depends on cooking time:

15 minutes           40% retained
30 minutes           35% retained
60 minutes           25% retained
90 minutes           20% retained
2 hours               10% retained
2 1/2 hours           5% retained

For de-glazing a pan the amount retained depends both on how hot the pan is and how much you reduce the wine, but, generally, you are using a small amount of wine in a hot pan with a large surface, so even though it's cooked for a short time, the alcohol retention would be at the low end.

Second: Why cook with wine?

Wine is a great marinade.  It's acidic, so it helps to tenderize the tough fibers in meats.

Wine adds flavor.

That last statement is the important one. 

It's the reason I cook with wine.

The flavor added is as subtle or bold or light or complex as the wine you choose to cook with.

Ah, you say…. And what wine would that be?

Absolutely anything you're willing to drink.

Never, ever, ever use cooking wine – it has salt added for one thing, and it tastes bad for another.

I keep dry sherry on hand for adding to stir-fries, finishing soups and cream sauces; and it's the perfect liquid to add to the peanut dipping sauce for samosas.

I use white vermouth a lot in the summer in marinades for chicken and pork before grilling.

Red vermouth, sweet sherry or port add a lovely touch to a fruit dessert.

The only thing to remember is that the flavor of the wine will come through in the finished dish.  After that it's up to you to taste and experiment. 

If you love merlot and hate Zinfandel, use merlot, even if the dish calls for the Zinfandel.

If you don't like oaky Chardonnay don't use it to make the sauce for your poached sole. Use a Riesling if that's what you like.

There are, of course, other rules, just like there are for drinking:

White wine with light meats – fish, chicken.

Red wine with dark meats – beef, game.

Let me correct that earlier statement – they are not rules but very flexible guidelines.

Chicken Braised in White Wine is lovely…

Chicken in White Wine
But it's not Coq au Vin.

Coq au Vin

Boeuf Bourguignon has a different flavor then Beef Braised in Barolo, or Beef Braised in Chianti or Beef Braised in White Wine.

Boeuf Bourguignon
I can't imagine starting a risotto without that first half cup of white wine….

Unless it's Sausage, Mushroom and Red Wine Risotto.

Risotto with Red Wine

Eggs Poached in Red Wine? This is so utterly, fantastically, delicious – it's a D.O. (digestive org*sm)

Eggs in Red Wine
Did some one say 'white wine with fish'? Bacalao a la Marinera

Spanish Cod

And, of course, those Samosas with Peanut Sauce


And a stir-fry – Pork Amandine

Pork Amandine

So uncork a bottle of your favorite, pour yourself a glass, and in the immortal words of Julia Child 'add a good glug or two' to whatever is in the pan.

7 thoughts on “Cooking with Wine”

  1. Cooking with wine is very natural for us. When I saw your picture of the eggs poached in red wine, my husband reminded me that he had them in the Burgandy area of France. It just does not excite me. Perhaps, if set before me, I would enjoy, but I doubt that I would try cooking this. Love the info you passed on. Thanks.

  2. I always hate to toss wine I enjoy drinking into food…but I also never buy cheap wine, much less “cooking wine.” The result is that I don’t cook enough with wine. You may have lent me some inspiration here.

  3. I keep a cask in the fridge of ‘reasonable’ white wine for cooking with. I am unsure if you can get cask wine in Europe. I am never tempted to drink it though as really my first love is champagne !

  4. I love cooking with wine! It adds such a great depth of flavor that otherwise you would not get. So right about the oaky Chardonnay – I like a dry Savignon Blanc – works wonders. And reds? A good Cabernet can work magic.

  5. Susan, the poached eggs is one of those dishes you have to try to believe it’s good – hard to make it until you’re a convert 😉
    Betty, I do buy cheap, or at least, cheaper wine for cooking…. but still drinkable… I use so much I have to LOL But sherry and dry vermouth are good substitutes as they keep longer after being opened.
    Val, I loved the Galloping Gourmet! My grades would have been much better at University had he not been on TV in the morning. LOL
    Zoomie, absolutely – you drink a bit; you glug a bit into the pot!
    manningroad, we get it in a box. I converted when I saw the same wine in a bottle sitting next to the box – for a lot more money.
    Ina, when we were in Andorra I cooked with Spanish reds; here’s it French reds – a definite differnce. I like both, of course…

Comments are closed.

Share via
Copy link