Choosing the Right Wine to Cook With
Wine has long been a common ingredient in recipes to add flavor, but choose the wrong type and you can seriously ruin a dish. There are many different wines that can be used during the cooking process, and there’s really no need to splash out on an expensive bottle when cooking.
If you’re finding the prospect of cooking with wine to be a little daunting, then simply stick to these basics to ensure you enhance the flavor, rather than overpowering it.
Why use wine?
Apart from adding a specific flavor, wine can be used to infuse fruit flavors, increase acidity levels, as well as being used as an alternative to fat. Wine is excellent for keeping fish or meats moist, and is a great ingredient for helping foods to simmer when using an oven or slow cooker. Cooking wines are often used, but many people avoid them as they can contain high levels of salt or other additives; best case scenario is that the cooking variety will simply be too flavorless and diluted to make a difference to your dish. Another tip is to avoid using a variety with an aromatic bouquet as this simply won’t survive the cooking process.
If you’re looking for versatility then add a dry white wine such as a Pinot Grigio or a Sauvignon Blanc; avoid those with a high alcohol content for lighter dishes. You’ll find that a Sauvignon Blanc will definitely increase acidity, which is great when used for creamy sauces, or in seafood dishes. An uncorked Chardonnay will add a distinct richness to the meal you’re cooking. A good tip is to use a wine that you’d normally drink, to compliment your meal.
Experimenting with red
Red wines feature tannins, and if you’re using a red for a reduction sauce, then you might find that the taste is overly harsh. However, the good news is that the tannins, in say a Cabernet Sauvignon, will be tempered by the proteins found in meats, which is why reds go so well with steaks and poultry. Red is also great for making casseroles or rich sauces for meat dishes, such as that classic French Beef Bourguignonne. You should choose a red wine from a supermarket like Tesco who will have a wide variety of styles and prices. Pinot Noir is slightly lighter on the tannins, making it a good variety if you’re cooking sauces specifically for vegetarians.
Remember that each type of wine will have its own complex components including tannins, sugars and acids, and these will appear in your finished dish. A final tip, if you wouldn't drink the wine, don’t use it to cook with.