Cooking with wine is an excellent way to bring an entirely new level of flavor to your favorite dishes. Whether you’re cooking fish, beef, chicken, or vegetables, the right wine can add a wonderful level of complexity and flavor that can make even a simple dish feel extraordinarily elegant. From French Onion Soup to the classic Coq Au Vin, a splash or two of wine provides depth of flavor. As your dish cooks, the alcohol will evaporate leaving behind a bit of moisture, and plenty of flavor.

Choosing the Right Wines

When choosing a wine for cooking it is usually recommended that you pick a wine that you would like to drink. Typically, this would be a wine with a medium alcohol content, about 10% to 13% alcohol. Don’t choose a cooking wine unless the recipe specifically calls for it.

Picking the ideal wine is important to cooking.

The best choice of wine for cooking will certainly depend on what you are cooking and the flavor profile you’d like to achieve. It is often a good rule of thumb to cook with the same wine that you would serve for drinking with the dish. If you are cooking a flavorful dish with red meat, such as a stew or hearty Bolognese, a red wine, such as a Cabernet or Merlot, would definitely be a great choice. For lighter dishes, such as those made with chicken or fish, you’ll generally want to use a white wine, preferably a dry wine. A rich Chardonnay would be nice. When cooking shrimp or other types of seafood, consider a crisp white wine, such as a Pinot Grigio. Sweet or sparkling wines also pair well with most white meat or fish dishes. If you’re adding wine to a vegetable dish, a light white wine, such as a Sauvignon Blanc would be delicious.

Cook Only With A Wine That You’d Drink

You might be tempted to use a cheaper wine for cooking, but this is usually a big mistake. You should always use a good wine when cooking, preferably one that you’d be happy to drink with the meal. If the wine you choose isn’t good enough for drinking, you certainly don’t want to concentrate the flavors in the dish you are cooking. When you cook with wine, the alcohol evaporates and the flavors of the wine are intensified, this is especially true in sauces and other dishes that are cooked in a sauce that is reduced.

Don’t Forget About Baking!Wine can be easily incorporated into baking as well.

Many people think about savory dishes that are cooked on the stovetop when they contemplate cooking with wine; however, there are many wonderful baked dishes and desserts that can be enhanced with a bit of wine. Whether it’s a luscious pound cake infused with a sparkling wine or it’s a delicious cobber or poached fruit that gets an extra dose of flavor from a robust Port, there are many baked dishes that can benefit from the boost of flavor that a good wine can impart.

Storing Leftover Wine

It’s not unusual to open and bottle of wine and not be able to finish it all on the same day. When you need to store leftover wine, there are a number of options. First of all, keep in mind that the more exposure the wine has to air, the faster it will oxidize and deteriorate. Recork after serving and keep the bottle out of direct sunlight. You can also store the wine in a refrigerator for better preservation, usually only a few days.

Other options include gadgets designed to help preserve wine. You can use a wine vacuum to help remove as much air from the bottle as possible, hence lessening deterioration. There are also bottle toppers for sparkling wines that can help preserve their bubbles and protect the wine. You can also buy a wine preservation system that inserts an inert gas into the bottle, causing the lighter oxygen to float to the top, helping to prevent exposure to air.

How to Make a Simple Reduction

A wine reduction is simply a wine infused liquid that is cooked until it has reduced to the desired consistency. Typically, onions, shallots or other aromatics are sautéed in a bit of oil, then some type of liquid, such as broth, and the wine are added to the pan. This dish is then simmered until the mixture reduces. A reduction can be made with either white or red wine, depending on the dish you’re making.