Wednesday, February 10, 2010

How to Cook With Wine

Cooking with wine can be a pleasure and an enhancement to good food and a fine meal!

When wine is heated, the alcholic content as well as sulfites disappears, leaving only the essence imparting a subtle flavor.

As Julia Child often said,  "If you do not have a good wine to use, it is far better to omit it, for a poor one can spoil a simple dish and utterly debase a noble one."

The first and most important rule:  Use only wines in your cooking that you would drink.  Never, never use any wine that you WOULD NOT DRINK!  If you do not like the taste of a wine you will not like the dish you choose to use it in.

Do not use the so called "cooking wines!"  These wines are very typically salty and include other additives that may affect the taste of your dish and your menu.  What you may not know is that the process of cooking/reducing the wine will bring out the worst in an inferior wine.

An expensive wine is not necessary, although a cheap wine will not bring out the best characteristics of your dish.  A good quality wine, that you enjoy, will provide the same flavor to a dish as a premium wine.

Wine has three main uses in the kitchen - as a marinade ingredient, as a cooking liquid, and as a flavoring agent in a finished dish.  The function of wine in cooking is to intensify, enhance and accent the flavor and aroma of your food, not to mask the flavor of what you are cooking.  As with any seasoning you use, care should be taken in the amount of wine you use.  Using too little wine is inconsequential and too much wine can tend to be overpowering.  Neither extreme is one that you want. 

For best results, wine should not be added to a dish just before serving.  The wine should simmer with the food, or sauce, to enhance the flavor of the dish.  If the wine is added to late in the preperation, it can impart a harsh quality.  It needs to simmer with the food or in the sauce while it is being cooked; as the wine cooks, it reduces and becomes an extract which flavors.  You should wait at least 10 minutes or more to taste your dish before adding more wine.

Remember that wine does not belong in every dish you cook.  Use wine when it has something to contribute to your finished dish.

One more thing to mention is that the alcohol in wine begins to evaporate at 172 degrees.  Even people who avoid drinking wine for religious or personal reasons can cook with wine.

With all of this being said, I am showing you how to prepare a very simple, but elegant French Onion Soup.  Match this soup with a spinach salad for a delicious dinner.  This soup is made to serve 6 people.


5 sweet onions, thinly sliced
6 cups beef broth
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 pound shredded Swiss cheese
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon Worchestshire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1 (1 pound) loaf French bread, sliced

  • In a medium stock pot, heat beef broth over medium-high heat.  Stir in Worchestshire Sauce.
  • In a saute pan, add butter and cook over medium-high heat.  Once heated, add onions and stir, until onions are tender and transparent.  Stir in sugar.
  • Add onions to heated broth, stir and let simmer for 20 minutes.

  • Add wine and season with salt and pepper, simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Pour soup mixture into individual serving bowls and place a slice of bread on top, making sure the bread gets well soaked.  Place shredded cheese on top of bread and broil, 3 inches below heat, until cheese bubbles.
Enjoy and have a blessed day!

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