Wine can add colors, richness, acidity and
body to sauces, stews, soups and casseroles. It is also an ingredient in
many marinades. To be successful, a wine should not be completely devoid
of fruit or, even worse, faulty. Neither does it have to be the best
bottle in the cellar. Research shows however, that the better the wine,
the better the final result.
If you are looking for a successful match
between the wine in your glass and the wine in a dish, it makes sense to
use a wine with similar characteristics. A good cook will consider the
individual facets of a wine before incorporating it into a dish. Alcohol
will be boiled off when added to a hot pan but care should be taken when
making iced desserts as, if too much wine is added, alcohol will lower
the freezing point and the dessert may not set.
When using sweet wines, or any wine with
an element of sweetness, the flavor will intensify as the sauce cooks
and reduces. Taste, to make sure that the wine you are about to drink
has the same degree of sweetness as the sauce. Remember too, that fruit
and vegetables, such as tomatoes, carrots, onions and garlic, will
reveal sweetness when cooked. Tomatoes also contain acidity, so look for
complementary characteristics in a wine.
If cooking with a white wine which has
fairly crisp acidity, remember that the acidity also intensifies as it
cooks. If your sauce becomes too acidic, adjust by adding cream or
Some dishes rely very much on wine as an
ingredient, for example boeuf bourgignon and coq au vin. The wine adds a
richness and intensity of flavor to the dish. However, highly flavored
or aromatic and oaked wines are often best avoided. Aromatics are lost
very quickly once the wine begins to boil, while oak does not evaporate,
but the oak flavor concentrates as it reduces, rendering a sauce
possibly too powerful for the food.
If you keep leftover wine, or have a
separate supply for cooking purposes, use a wine preserver to keep it in
good condition. Keeping bottles in the refrigerator will also help to
retain an element of freshness.