gourmet recipes utilize wine as a flavor enhancer. There is
good reason for this. Wine heightens the character of food
not with its alcohol content but with its flavor. The alcohol
is usually evaporated during the cooking process leaving behind
complex flavors highlighting the unique character of the wine.
Therefore any wine being used for cooking must be a good one.
A chef once told me that if you wouldnt drink the wine,
then you shouldnt subject your food to it! If the wine
is excessively fruity, sour, or unsavory in any way, these
tastes will only be emphasized during the cooking process.
Above all the wine to avoid is so-called cooking wine located
in the supermarket near the vinegar. You would almost be better
off just using the vinegar. "Cooking wine" is, first, a poor
quality wine packaged so it can be priced higher than it should,
and second, salt is added to this wine to either prevent you
from drinking it straight or to "help" with the
seasoning. This truly is something to avoid all together.
Ultimately it comes down to - if you do
not have good wine, opt not to use it!
White Wine: White wine used in cooking should
be strong and dry, never sour or fruity (unless fruity or
sweet is the result you want as in Pork
Medallions with Pears & Riesling.) Which white
wine to use really depends on what flavor you want to impart
on your dish. Sauvignon Blanc with its herbaceous quality
will highlight herbs, whereas a Chardonnay with its buttery
characteristic is a perfect compliment for something like
Red Wine: I generally use a good Cabernet
Sauvignon, Merlot or a Bordeaux when using red wine in a recipe.
I find it gives a nice full-bodied flavor to the dishes I
prepare but you can also experiment here as well. Zinfandels
typically have a berry or cherry character which work nicely
with fruit sauces for pork or duck for instance.
For red and white wine, make sure that you
cook off the alcohol before completing your sauce or dish.
If this evaporation does not take place, often the end result
tastes less than desirable.
Fortified Wines, Spirits and Liqueurs: These
should be used primarily for final finishes and therefore
should be the finest quality. Usually only small quantities
are call for in most recipes so your supply of these expensive
spirits should last quite awhile.
Madeira & Port: These wines are typically
used for a finishing flavor. These wines should be the genuine
article of a medium-dry type, but you can usually find moderately
priced wines in this category.
We invite you to experiment with the unique
flavors wine can impart on your food with the following recipes:
Medallions with Pears & Riesling
with Sausage & Tomato Ragout
Salmon with Wine & Parsley
Filet with Dijon Red Wine Sauce
Tenderloin with Shallots & Red Wine
Steak with Port Wine Mushroom Sauce
Pork Loin with Port Wine Sauce
Chicken with Fresh Herbs & Wine
Tenderloin with Madeira
with Shallots & Madeira
Chops with Cream Sherry & Pine Nuts
Medallions with Cream Sherry & Prune Sauce
Strawberries with Wine & Balsamic Vinegar Sauce
- Chef Jessica