Wine

Wine

By
From
Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery

The reason for cooking with wines is that they give depth and richness to the flavours of food. Now that well-made, inexpensive wines are available in the ingenious casks, which enable you to tap off just a glassful, as well as in flagons and bottles, it seems as natural to have wine at hand in the kitchen as to have onions or butter or eggs.

Quick dishes and family meals can benefit as much from wine as food for special occasions. Add a touch of white wine to a salad dressing or sprinkle a little on the potatoes for potato salad while they are still warm. Add a dash of white wine to the pan juices for basting a chicken. Swirl a glassful round the pan in which you have ham steaks, pork chops, fish or veal; boil for a minute, stirring to pick up all the good brown bits, season and pour over the meat. Make a quick snack of toast with a wine and cheese topping, or a tasty wine-flavoured savoury charlotte with ingredients you probably have on the shelf. Poach or bake fruit in wine; add a little white wine to carrots as they glaze. Use 125 ml wine as the liquid for a pot roast; stir a spoonful of red or white wine into gravy or soup; make a quick red wine pan sauce for sausages, kidneys or hamburgers. All these ideas are easy, and all lift everyday eating. Wines for cooking: The only firm rule is that the wine you cook with should be one that you would drink. There is no need to sacrifice a fine bottle to the cooking pot, but wine for cooking should always be sound and pleasant to your palate. When it is added towards the end of cooking time or when the dish is cooked for only a short time, the full character of the wine comes through so it is worth using the best you can. This need not be extravagant since you usually add only a spoonful or so if the cooking time is short.

In general, cook with the wine that you would drink with the food – white wine for white meats, seafood and chicken, red wine for darker meats such as beef, lamb and duck. There are exceptions – coq au vin is an example of chicken cooked in red wine, and Alsatian lamb is cooked in white wine. Fruits, vegetables and cheese may go with either red or white wine in different dishes.

If you have leftover table wine to use for cooking, cork the bottle tightly and store it in the refrigerator. It will last 4–5 days before turning vinegary. Use wooden spoons and pans with a nonmetal lining when you are cooking with wine, as it readily picks up a metallic taste.

How much to use: Do not think that if a little wine improves a dish, a lot will make it even better. Moderation is the key word. Think in terms of a wine glassful (about 125 ml) if it will be cooked with other ingredients for some time, a spoonful or two if it will be cooked briefly.

The purpose of the wine is to enhance the flavour of the food, not to dominate it. Follow a recipe or, if you are adding wine to a basic recipe, follow these guidelines and proceed with discretion, tasting often.

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