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Cooking With Wine: Everything That You Need To Know

There are many iconic combinations out there - peanut butter and jelly, bread and butter, and many more -  but one of the most iconic has to be food and wine. As long as wine has been around, people have not only enjoyed drinking a glass or two, but have been cooking with it. For instance, classic French cuisine focuses on using wine in foods like coq au vin, poached pears, and beef bourguignon. These dishes range from savory to sweet, and adding wine is a great way to enhance them.

Picking a wine to cook with can seem like a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Since the wine will impart a lot of flavor into the dish, one of the most important factors when choosing a cooking wine is to choose something you would enjoy drinking. Another reason to add wine is to increase the acidity of a dish.  This not only helps break down cuts of meat through braising, but also works well with finer textured proteins like fish. When making a hearty braise, a fuller bodied red is always a great go to - and don’t be afraid to use a wine with a good level of tannins! Tannins generally soften up once they come into contact with fat, and adding a bit of butter at the end can help to round out all of the flavors.

One of my favorite dishes to cook with wine is Coq au vin. The long cooking process with chicken and an entire bottle of Bordeaux turns the chicken a dark color and adds an incredible richness to the dish, which is complimented even more by the addition of onions and mushrooms. Pinot Noirs are also great to cook with, especially when using a young bright fruity one. This light wine works well to tenderize meat as it cooks, but is not too bold or overpowering for more delicate meals like beef bourguignon.

There are also a lot of white wines that work really well for cooking. For example, these wines work very well with cheese fondue - the wine aids the cooking process by preventing coagulation while also adding flavor and complexity to the dish. Part of the appeal of using white wines in cooking is that as the wine cooks, the alcohol evaporates and leaves layers of aromas and flavors such as citrus, ripe apple, and tropical fruits behind in the dish. Many whites such as Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and Albariño work well when cooking, especially with lighter dishes like fish.

When cooking with white wines, you will want to stay away from highly oaked Chardonnays and wines with high amounts of residual sugar. Highly oaked Chardonnay can turn a dish very bitter, and wines with sugar may caramelize and turn a dish very sweet.

Overall, there are many benefits to using wine in cooking. It adds a layer of flavor and complexity to any dish that you’re making, from salad dressings to steak and ice cream. This is something extremely simple that will take any dish to the next level!

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