How Cooking with Wine Works

Wine has been used as a delicous way to flavor food from the earliest days of human history. In Rome, the famous cook Apicius was known to use wine liberally in his dishes. Fast forward to the wide variety of styles today, and you'll find that most of them benefit from the right type of wine.

First, what happens to wine when you cook with it? Like cooking with any other liquid, some parts of it boil off, leaving the remainder behind as a thicker, more concentrated substance. Since water boils at 212F but alcohol boils at 172F, as soon as the dish crosses that 172 mark it has progressively less and less alcohol in it. You're left with the flavor of the wine, perhaps with a small amount of sugar (if it was a sweeter wine) and definitely the acidic sharpness. This is why you want to cook with a relatively good wine - if you start with a nasty wine, you'll end up with "nastiness distilled" being the core flavor of your dish!

The most common uses for wine in cooking are to use it in a sauce, or to marinade in it. Red sauces appear to work best with a red-blend wine in them, or with something not-too-tannic and not-too-acidic, like a pinot noir. Fortified wines go well in sauces - veal marsala and chicken madeira are both classics. For marinades, red wines are often used to soak a steak to give it more flavor.

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All content on the WineIntro website is personally written by author and wine enthusiast Lisa Shea. WineIntro explores the delicious variety and beautiful history which makes up our world of wine! Lisa loves supporting local wineries and encouraging people to drink whatever they like. We all have different taste buds, and that makes our world wonderful. Always drink responsibly.