Basic Principles of Cooking with Wine
Wine has been an essential component in cooking for centuries. Vital considerations involved with cooking with wine involve quality, quantity, timing, and temperature. Also, knowing which wines to use for each type of dish can considerably help or hinder your meal. First and foremost, always cook with a wine of good quality. Cooking with a wine you wouldn't enjoy drinking will result in a meal you wouldn't enjoy eating. Cooking with wine imparts and magnifies all the small nuances of flavor in the wine to the food. When considering quantity, realize that less is more. Overpowering the meal with lots of liquid will not help anything. Try substituting wine for another liquid a recipe may call for. Adding wine at the beginning stage of cooking will result in a more subtle flavoring to the meal. The longer the wine stays on the burner, the more the flavors will become infused in the other ingredients. Adding wine at a later stage of cooking will have bolder results since reduced wine will have more concentrated flavors. The temperature during cooking can also destroy aromatic flavors present in the wine if heated at high temperatures. Also, the alcohol content of the wine will be preserved, to some extent, after all the cooking has been completed.
For all dishes except desserts, it is often best to use dry wine as to avoid altering the natural flavors of the ingredients. For desserts, a port or sweet sherry as well as Madeira and Marsala are common. Poached fruit is also a popular treat. Dry red wine works well with poached strawberries and pears. The tannic aspects of wine are also helpful with the softening of meats in marinades. With meat and game, remember to use a powerful red wine to cut through the strong flavors associated with these dishes. Poultry dishes require dry wines. Keep in mind that red wines will slightly tint this meat. White and red wines can also be used to make wine sauces. Overly tannic and acidic wines should be avoided in reduced sauces. Seafood dishes are best prepared with dry white wines. Soups benefit from dry to medium sherries and white wines. Adding these towards the end of the cooking process creates a bold flavor and splash of pizazz.