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Adding Flavor And Excitement To Your Dishes Via Wines

By Expert Author: Stephen John

When you were a kid, you probably wondered why your parents used poured wine into a pan while cooking something. Perhaps questions like ‘Isn’t wine supposed to be sipped from a glass and not mixed with food?’ came to your mind back then. As you grow up, you realize that many of the things you had assumed were proven wrong, including cooking with wine.

Why add wines to dishes?

If you still haven’t figured out the answer to this, read on. Anything with flavour, whether it’s liquid or solid, can make a dish taste different. Aside from adding flavour, though, there are other smart reasons for using wine when cooking.

First, it’s a healthy way to take the place of some fat when sautéing and in marinades without having to compromise flavour. The rich essence of red wines, in particular, can deepen and enhance a wide variety of your culinary masterpieces. Also, adding reds allows you to experiment with your cooking by playing off the natural flavors of some of the ingredients you use.

Choosing which red wine goes with what dish

When choosing which red wine to use, consider the heartiness of the dish. A robust wine would fare well with beef roast or a long-simmered lamb leg, while a less powerful but dry type such as a Shiraz would pair well with a lighter dish.

Red or white?

The dilemma that many cooks find themselves is whether to use red or white wine for their cooking. You’ll discover, though, that as you go through hits and misses (hopefully, more ‘hits’ than ‘misses’), white wine fares better with lighter flavors and for recipes that use cream or cheese. However, for meat and game, red wines should be your choice of beverage when cooking. Whatever wine you’re using, be sure to add it early, like in the sautéing or simmering stages, so that the wine can settle in with the other ingredients you’re using.

Dry or sweet?

This is yet another important factor to take into account when cooking with vino, whether to use dry or sweet wine. The term ‘dry’ of course, especially for those familiar with wine terms, means just the opposite of sweet. This means the grape sugar is converted into alcohol during fermentation. Depending on the residual sugar, a wine can be classified as ‘sweet,’ ‘dry,’ or even ‘semi-dry.’ Depending on the flavour you want to achieve, whether you want more sweetness or less of it, choose the type of wine that will help you get the flavour you want.

Mind the tannins and acids

Tannins (referring to the bitterness in the liquid) are generally found in reds. The term ‘acid,’ on the other hand, refers to the sharp bite in the vino. The latter can help bring out the natural flavors in a mild food, while tannins act like palate cleansers when they are paired with foods that contain a lot of protein such as meat.

Cooking with wine has never been an exact science. As it was mentioned earlier, a lot of experimenting eventually leads to a more successful mixing of wine, red or white, with your favorite dishes. (Try using Shiraz on your next cooking. It’s hard to get wrong with it.)

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