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A Guide to Cooking with Wine

Aug 17, 2007
Don't just sip it, eat it!

Want to enhance and improve the taste of your favorite dish? Think that adding wine to your recipe will make it more scrumptious and mouth watering? Well then, you're absolutely right!

Wines are widely used in the cooking world because they intensify taste and zest. They are also capable of releasing flavors from food that are not possible by regular means of cooking.

The main question you must have now is this: What type of wine goes with what type of food?

You have red wines, white wine, sparkly champagne, sherry etc. You have grape vine types like merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, zinfandel, syrah, and Riesling. With the wide variety of them available, picking a wine is pretty tricky. The secret here is to know what combinations are used by professionals.

1. Red Wine

There used to be a rule in cooking that "red wine goes with red meat, white wine with white meat". Although it's not really true anymore, most chefs still go with that.

- For red meat, young and full bodied red wines are recommended. Try going for Zinfandel Red or Merlot.
- For red sauces, robust, full bodied wines are best. Make pasta, pizza or other tomato-sauce based dishes with it.
- Using root veggies with beef stock? You might want to look for an earth red, full bodied wine. The color it imparts to the meat makes it all the more wonderful.

2. White Wine

Cream based sauces, butter and herbs. Yum. White wine is usually used with white meat and best for light colored dishes.

- If you fancy a zesty dish, add some sparkling champagne.
- For chicken, pork or veal, try cooking with white wine. Spice up your grilled chicken by mixing dry, white wine with butter as the sauce.
- Crisp, dry white wines are ideal for seafood soup and shellfish dishes. Bouillabaisse, anyone?
- Leftover sweet white wine in your fridge? Why make delicious, delectable desserts? Whip up some Bavarian cream.

3. Fortified wine

Fortified wines are what they are: fortified. Additional neutral alcohol is added to them. Then they are aged for a long time. Examples are sherry, port and vermouth.

- Sherry is great for poultry meat and vegetables soups.
- For sweet, fruity dishes or desserts, splash some port or vermouth. Your dry vermouth can also be a good substitute for white wine.

4. Cooking wine

Cooking wines are relatively less pricey wines that use salt as a preservative. They can be found in supermarkets and groceries. Most professional chefs disdain the use of cooking wines because the salt content is hard to work with. You may need to adjust your recipe to work with the saltiness.

5. Exotic wines

Cooking is an experiment. If you're feeling bold and daring, you could try cooking with exotic wines. Asian wines are popular choices for an all together different meal. There is the sake, bekseju and seol joong mae.

- Sake is a rice based wine from Japan. Although it's mainly a beverage, it is popular as an additive to many Japanese dishes.

- Beksuju is a Korean wine made from raw rice and herbs. It can be used in vegetable dishes to increase the 'herbal' feel. Seol Joong Mae, a fruit wine made from plum, can be used for desserts and fruity dishes.

I hope that clears up some of your confusion. With that said, here are some few reminders for the novice cook:

- Cook only with wine that you would drink. There is no sense in cooking something that you wouldn't want to taste.
- There are a lot of good, quality yet inexpensive wines out there. Don't get too carried away and buy something that's way off your budget.
- Don't cook using aluminum or cast iron cookware. Alcohol is reactive with these materials and could cause harm to your dish.
- After adding your wine, try to wait for 5-10 minutes before tasting it. Wine needs to simmer for a while before it can impart flavor to your food.
- Got some left over wine? Put them in your ice cube tray and freeze them. This makes them good for future use.

Get your favorite recipe, pick a wine and start cooking!
About the Author
Lee Dobbins, an avid wine drinker, writes for http://wine.leisure-webzone.com where you can learn more about wine and when to use it properly.
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