Chardonnay poached Christmas pears

Surprising ways to use wine in cooking

Wine is of course the ultimate pairing for many delicious meals. But there are also a lot of surprising ways to use wine in cooking.

Wine, of course, is a sophisticated compliment to any meal, and has been gracing dinner tables and improving social occasions since the time of the Roman Empire. But there are also a lot of surprising ways to use wine in cooking. Learn more about it in this article!

The wine subscription service Firstleaf has created a comprehensive guide for beginners: Cooking Wine and Cooking With Wine.

Let’s see some of the more interesting ways you can use wine in recipes. But first, we’ll answer a common question.

Should I Cook with Cooking Wine or Regular Wine?

You may have seen a product labeled “cooking wine” on your supermarket’s shelves. 

Cooking wine has a much longer shelf life than wine that you’d drink — usually about a year. It is heavily salted so that it will last so long. “Drinking wine” is more delicate, and usually only lasts about a week in the fridge.

You can cook with cooking wine, but you’ll probably get deeper and more interesting flavors if you cook with recently-opened wine. 

A good analogy might be the difference between freshly-baked bread from a bakery and the cheap, mass-produced supermarket bread. You can make a perfectly good sandwich with the cheap bread, but one made with freshly-baked bread is probably going to taste a lot better.

Surprising Wine Uses #1: Pan Sauces

Any time you cook meat in a pan, you can use wine to create a quick, easy, delicious sauce.

Once the meat is cooked, set it aside to rest. Then turn your attention to making the sauce. First, add aromatics like garlic, green onions, ginger, shallots or others to the pan, and cook for about a minute until you start to smell their flavor.

Then, pour in a small amount of wine, about a quarter of a cup. (You can use red or white wine, but a dry wine — rather than a sweet wine — is best.) Scrape the pan to loosen up any tasty meat bits. As you do this, the alcohol will evaporate away and the wine will start to reduce. 

Finally, taste the sauce and add salt and pepper to taste — or, for a more decadent sauce, add a couple of tablespoons of butter.

Pour over the reserved meat, and serve!

Surprising Wine Uses #2: Poaching

Poaching is when you cook food — usually something delicate like eggs, fruit, or fish — in a simmering liquid. Wine is an ideal liquid for poaching because the right wine can compliment the flavor of the food. They can also lend a unique and dramatic color, as with pears poached in red wine.

Typically the poaching liquid is kept at a simmer. The churning action of boiling could cause the delicate food to break apart. Then it’s really as simple as letting the food cook until it’s done.

Surprising Wine Uses #3: Drizzling

It’s the work of just a few seconds, but can give a sophisticated look and flavor to any dessert: a quick drizzle of wine. A few drops of a sweet wine like port over chocolate ice cream, or Riesling over vanilla or white cake, adds an extra note of flavor that just makes dessert more fun to eat.

Enjoy, Experiment, and Don’t Forget to Drink

Cooking with wine can become a lifetime experiment and passion. Try out different combinations and see which ones you like. Best of all, there’s usually plenty of wine leftover for a glass or two.

About Sarah Breckon

This post about surprising ways to use wine in cooking was kindly provided by Sarah Breckon. She is PR manager at Fixture media. Originally formed in 2012, Fixture Media was born as Content Harmony. They began operating our own web publishing brands in 2016, and the brand name Content Harmony broke off as a standalone software company in 2020, when they relaunched as Fixture Media.

More surprising.with-wine

Firstleaf is a great resource to learn about wine and pairing. But are you looking for some surprising inspiration to use wine in cooking recipes? Then check out these ideas:

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