Cooking with wine

A rookie's guide to cooking with wine:
     Print Edition: July 21, 2013

Why stop at wine pairing when you can pour it straight into your food? Here's a rookie's guide to cooking with wine:

Choosing the wine
The choice of wine depends on the desired flavour of the food. A wine rich in acids helps bring out the natural flavours of mild foods like pan-seared vegetables and seafood. The tannins present in red wine go well with hearty food like juicy steaks and grilled pork and beef. Also take into account the age of the wine - while a vintage wine will be drier, with few natural sugars and high alcohol content, a younger varietal contains natural sugar from the grapes.

Techniques to try

Saute Wine adds moisture to veggies and fish, and doesn't interfere with their natural texture and sans the odour butter or oil. Take 10 per cent of the usual oil required and use half a cup of white wine to add flavour. Pour wine in the pan while the fish is simmering, then poach it as the wine boils. Alternatively, you can drizzle the fish with a tablespoon of wine and set to bake in a foil package.

Marinade Instead of using half a cup of oil, try quarter-cup oil and quarter-cup wine. This will help tenderise the meat and make it rich and toasty on the inside.

Bake Instead of adding a three-quarter cup of oil to a cake mix recipe, add a three-quarter cup of white or dessert wine to the batter. This helps lighten the cake and, well, makes it more addictive!

Never cook with a wine you wouldn't drink; if you can't stand it as it is, you'll never like it in your food. Sip a little as you stir it, this helps you gauge the intensity and pungency of the liquor. The wines to stock up on your kitchen shelf are Port (rich sweetness), Sherry (nutty roasted), Madeira (toffee-caramel) and Marsala (fruity-citrusy). These are naturally intense and last the longest on the kitchen shelf

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