Have some leftover red wine that you don’t know what to do with? Then why not cook with it! Wine when exposed to air is not going to store well, so if you’ve got half empty bottles lying around, you better use them up fast so you won’t create waste. And there’s no better way to do that than to incorporate red wine in your meals.
Now you might be wondering why the heck you would do that. Well for two reasons. One, wine is healthy—healthy enough to take every day in moderation. It is rich in antioxidants, which is always a plus, and it’s fermented; it will help promote a healthy digestive system. Second reason, it will enhance the flavor and aroma of your meals. And who doesn’t enjoy a hearty meal every now and then?
So you’ve seen chefs and other people cooking with wine but you’ve got no clue where to start. Not to fret, I’ve got just the thing for you. Here are the basics in cooking delicious and flavorful meals with red wine:
- If you can drink it, you can cook with it. What I’m trying to say here is that if you cannot drink it, then best not to cook it. Watch out for wines that are faulty. Immediately return wine bottles that smell funky. The most common you will encounter is cork taint where the wine will smell moldy and musty.
- Stay away from specialty cooking wines. Other than being costly, they have high salt content and if you’re not that skilled in the kitchen, your dish could end up a salty disaster.
- Use wine when there’s plenty of cooking time. It’s not advisable to add the wine at the later part of cooking because its taste will stand out and not blend with the rest of the flavors. It should at least cook for 4 minutes into the dish. Also, the longer you cook the wine, the lesser the alcohol content.
- Basic wine flavors are fruity, spicy, acidic, sweet, earthy and oaky. Use the subtle flavors of your wine to complement the food you’re cooking. If you want a sweet dish, go with sweet wine, so on and so forth. As a rule, red wine goes best with dark-colored meats and highly seasoned dishes.
- There’s a fun saying that goes “If it grows together, it goes together”. If your ingredients are locally grown, it is better use local wines, too.
- Use red wines in marinades, sauces and in simmering. This will keep your meat moist as it cooks. For sauces, let the wine cook down until the red fades. Simmering with wine is another great way to instantly add both flavor and moisture.
That’s it for the most important things to remember when you’re adding wine into your meals. I will post some great sample recipes that use red wine real soon. Do watch out for that!
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Top photo credit: Great British Chefs Team (Flickr.com)