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Cooking With Wine 101

Sep 5, 2008
Many people are intimidated by the idea of cooking with wine. It sounds a little too fancy or even gourmet (that's Greek for complicated). Maybe they are feeding a family and don't like the idea of serving the little ones something with wine in it. However, often it is just a case of people not knowing how to cook with wine. It really is very simple and can be incorporated into anyone's recipes.

Some of the advantages of cooking with wine include:

- very little makes a huge difference to the flavor and aroma of your dishes
- it instantly produces a richer, more complex taste to recipes
- you can easily experiment with it for different results
- if you choose to replace it in a recipe, it can be easily done with chicken, beef or vegetable broth

The first step for beginners wishing to cook with wine is to try adding it to spaghetti sauces. Red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Bordeaux and Merlot are wonderful in spaghetti sauces that are vegetarian or beef based. If the sauce is being served over chicken or is made with ground poultry, white wine works better. Even as little as 1/3 of a cup of wine adds a rich flavor to the entire batch of sauce that will cause people to come back for it time and again.

Another great and easy way to incorporate wine into your cooking is to create a sauce from the little bits of food left in the frying pan after frying meats. You simply pour in wine and gently scrape the pan as it cooks on the stove. This is actually a real cooking technique called deglazing. It makes a fantastic rich sauce to pour over vegetables or meat. An added bonus is your pan will also be easier to clean afterwards.

If you are cooking in the slow cooker or baking in the oven, you always need to add liquid. Wine is the perfect cooking liquid. It adds flavor and richness. White wine adds an irresistible intensity to fish baked in it. Red wine is wonderful to add to the slow cooker with a roast or in beef stew.

As you get bolder with your use of wine in cooking, explore some different recipes using it. They are very easy to find. Just a simple online search will provide you with numerous recipes. There are soups, desserts, main dishes, pastas, appetizers and more that feature any of a variety of wines in their ingredient list.

So remember to keep at least one red and one white wine on hand to give a little extra flavor to the dishes you prepare. Even inexpensive wines will add a little extra je-ne-sais-quoi in your food. (That's French for yummy)

An important point to remember for anyone who brings it up, is that the alcohol in the wine burns off in the cooking process, leaving you with flavor and no intoxicating effects. It also doesn't add any extra fat to the meals you are preparing. You will astound your friends with how sophisticated your cooking has become because of the great results wine produces in even every day dishes.
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