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The Basics of Cooking with Wine
We drink wine, placing it in a glass and swallowing without the effort of chewing (even though some people describe wine as chewy). It goes down smooth, born to be only wild enough to glide down an esophagus. Quenching our thirst and our nerves, a glass of good wine is simply a good drink.
However, wine isn't limited to just a glass, a bottle, or even a bucket. Branching out into different realms, as if trying to find itself in the culinary world, wine has become an important ingredient in many food dishes.
Cooking with wine isn't a new concept; a bottle has always been in the kitchen, wearing a chef's hat and sautéing the onions. But, with more and more light shining onto the health benefits of wine, people are becoming increasingly interested in wine sauces, adding it to dishes for wallop and wellness.
Choosing Between Red Wine and White Wine
Red wine will go with several dishes, as if some sort of food floozy getting on top of everything it knows. While people can alter recipes to make red wine BBQ sauce, or red wine steak sauce, the basic job of red wine is to marinate, bringing out the food's innate flavors. Reds are skilled at bringing out the colors and essence of the food, and they add a dryness, making dishes taste less sugary. Similar to food/wine pairings, red wine should be added to dishes containing red meat, or dishes with a lot of vegetables, such as stews.
While red wine enhances flavor, white wines alter it. This doesn’t mean that white wine will decrease the horrible taste of your mother-in-law's fettuccini, but it adds an acidic feature, making the dish more tart. It won't drastically change the dish, but it will enhance its natural sharpness. White wines are best used for cream sauces, or with chicken and fish.
How Much to Spend
Wine that you cook with should be wine that you would drink….willingly. This doesn't mean that you should pour your bottle of 1847 Château d'Yquem into a noodle sauce, but adding in weak wine will hurt, even ruin, your dish. If you purchase a wine of poor quality, your food will adopt that poor quality, which is probably not the goal you're aiming for. A good rule of thumb is to never add cheap wine, but don't go overboard and add an expensive wine that should be saved for a special occasion.
Cooking wine, by definition, is a very inexpensive wine that has been treated with salt as a preservative. Its sole purpose of existence is to be added to food. While some people advocate the use of cooking wine, true wine connoisseurs don't, throwing the recipe book at it instead. This, in a nutshell, is because cooking wine tastes exactly like it's supposed to taste: like wine you'd never want to drink.
Some people may imagine that an entree full of alcohol will cause mayhem among the dinette set, causing the dish, in a moment of lapsed judgment, to actually run away with the spoon. But, in truth, using alcohol for cooking won't have as much of an affect as using it for drinking. This isn't to say that all the alcohol in food disappears (some dishes that aren't cooked very long can still have high contents), but the longer something simmers, the more the alcohol evaporates, leaving the dish on the verge of sobriety.
Cooking with wine is meant to be fun and something people can do with a lot of variety. Though the Internet is filled with recipes and directions on how to make specific dishes, a lot of cooking with wine just comes with learning and understanding your specific tastes. In the end, wine can add pizzazz to your meal with flavor and zest, but usually not so much alcohol that you find yourself sauced.
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