Cooking With Wine

February 20, 2017

Experts no longer believe that you should cook with only cheap wine. They used to believe that it didn’t matter to the flavor, but I am here to tell you that it does. I fancy myself a professional chef and food stylist and I know of what I speak. Maybe people still do it to save money, but don’t kid yourself. A good wine should be used in the preparation of sauces or to deglaze a skillet. If the recipe calls for a specific type of wine such as white or red, or perhaps sherry, get the kind you would drink yourself. It doesn’t mean the most expensive at all as that can run you hundreds of dollars per bottle. I am talking about about twenty or thirty at most. Something you would offer guests or order yourself at a fine dining restaurant. In the liquor store or supermarket, a bottle that costs $20 goes for $40. So you know you are using the right wine if you follow my tip.

I often cook with sauterne or a pinot noir. I keep plenty in my wine refrigerator that I found here on Home Bar Hero. It holds a case and keeps reds and whites at different temperatures. You don’t want to over chill the reds. Let them stand at room temperature if you are unsure. I like them in the cooler where I can see them all at once. I don’t use a wine rack or store bottles on a shelf. Sherry doesn’t have to be refrigerated, but when drinking or serving chardonnay, Pinot Grigio or Riesling, the wine should be quite cold. Reds include Beaujolais, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Zinfandel. Each wine, red or white, has a distinct flavor. I like to pair whites with fish, pork and chicken and reds with red meat. It is a kind of general rule of thumb. If you want a particular flavor, note these special undertones. Zinfandel, for example, emits a broad, exotic array of fruits from stone (overripe nectarine), to red (raspberry, sour cherry), to blue (plum, blueberry), to black (blackberry, boysenberry). There is also a bit of Asian spice powder, and in some, a sweet tobacco. As an alternative, go to Cabernet Sauvignon for a bit of black cherry, black currant, baking spices and cedar (from oak). You can really flavor a dish if you choose carefully. I keep a number of each key type of red and white in my wine refrigerator. I’ll move something aside if I don’t like how it works with my favorite ingredients.

Wines are full-bodied or light so learn what this means. Pinot Noir is known for its very red fruited (cherry, cranberry) and red-floral (rose) tones, often with appealing vegetal notes of beet, rhubarb, or mushroom. You can see that it can get very exotic. Wines are a sophisticated specialty indeed. It pertains to drinking them alone or using them in food preparation. Many recipes give you the details, but then again many don’t. You have to experiment and learn by trial and error.