Take Your Cooking to the Next Level (aka Gourmet Cooking)!

For religious and health reasons, I avoid drinking alcohol. So I’ve been wondering about something in terms of cooking: Why do some recipes call for wine, and what are the benefits of cooking with this stuff?

The answer in a nutshell: cooking with wine can enhance flavor, minimize the amount of fat needed (in some recipes, you can substitute wine for all or part of the specified quantity of oil), and can take your cooking to the next level (aka gourmet cooking).

Flavor and health are good, but I still wondered, WHAT HAPPENS TO THE ALCOHOL in the cooking process? Conventional information says that after a few minutes of cooking, the alcohol in wine evaporates. Not exactly. Research from the USDA shows that 85% of the alcohol remains after wine is added to a boiling liquid and then removed from the heat.

The longer a dish is cooked, however, the less alcohol remains. If a food is baked or simmered 15 minutes, 40% of the alcohol will remain; after one hour, only 25% remains; after 2 ½ hours, just 5%. But since wine does not have a large amount of alcohol to begin with (generally 12% to 14%), the final amount of alcohol in a dish is not a problem for most people.

Hmmm, I dunno. I think if there’s even a trace of alcohol, I will skip the adventure and find a substitute for the wine. So guess what I found when I went looking for this very thing? HAH! On About.com I found an entire table of substitutes for 9 common wines. Now I can have the flavor without the alcohol!

But for those that do want to cook with the real McCoy, the COOKING LIGHT website has great information on what specific wines should be used for: http://www.cookinglight.com/entertaining/wine/cooking-with-wine-00400000001386/.

Meanwhile, if you, too, would prefer to avoid alcohol but do want to take your cooking to the next level, here’s a list of wine substitutions that you may find very helpful:

BRANDY (liqueur made of distilled wine or fruit juice): substitute apple, apricot, cherry, peach, raspberry or grape juice. Corresponding flavored extracts can also be substituted for small amounts of the recommended brandy.

CLARET (red wine or Bordeaux): substitute non-alcoholic wine, diluted currant or grape juice, and cherry cider syrup.

COGNAC (aged double-distilled wine or fermented fruit juice): substitute peach, apricot, or pear juice.

RED BURGUNDY (dry French wine): substitute non-alcoholic wine, red wine vinegar, or grape juice.

RED WINE (sweet or dry wine): substitute non-alcoholic wine, beef or chicken stock or broth, diluted red wine vinegar, grape juice diluted with red wine vinegar or rice vinegar, tomato juice, liquid from canned mushrooms or plain water.

SHERRY (fortified dessert wine, sweet or dry, some with a slightly nutty flavor): substitute orange or pineapple juice.

VERMOUTH (wine-based drink infused with herbs, sweet or dry): for sweet, substitute non-alcoholic sweet wine, apple or grape juice or balsamic vinegar. For dry, use non-alcoholic white wine, white grape juice or white wine vinegar.

WHITE BURGUNDY (dry French wine): substitute non-alcoholic wine, or white grape juice diluted with white wine vinegar.

WHITE WINE (sweet or dry wine): substitute non-alcoholic wine, chicken broth or stock, diluted white wine vinegar or cider vinegar, white grape juice diluted with white wine vinegar or ginger ale, canned mushroom liquid, or water. For marinades, substitute 1/4 C vinegar plus 1 tablespoon sugar plus ¼ cup water.

  •   www.vinepair.com
  •   www.dish.allrecipes.com
  •   www.learn.winecoolerdirect.com
  •   www.specsonline.com
  •   www.totalwine.com
  •   www.telegraph.co.uk

    Alice Osborne
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2006
    Email the author! alice@dvo.com

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