TIPS FOR CHOOSING A WINE TO COOK
By Pamela Echemunor
Cooking with wine is very uncommon, but wine adds a certain zing to food with the right cheat sheet. Wine is rich and goes well with almost everything, so here are a few tips to consider on your way to mouthwatering heaven.
Know what you are planning to cook
If you are planning a meaty menu, then you need to buy it like you drink it, the more the better. You’ll be needing wine for the deglazing process of cooking. Deglazing essentially means you need a little liquid to help steam off the bits of food that are starting to stick to the bottom of a pot or pan. You can achieve deglazing with water, but wine adds a layer of flavor and complexity, and is just plain more fun to cook with. Either way the wine should be palatable.
Read the recipe
Recipes are important, even professional chefs still work with recipes to remind them of measurements and so on. Sometimes recipes may be vague i.e. “dry white wine” or it simply may read “1 cup wine”. Either way, ensure you read and follow recipe instructions carefully to avoid mistakes.
What is Cooking Wine
When you walk into a grocery store there are products “Cooking Wine” or it may read “Sherry Cooking Wine”. They can legally be in a grocery store because they contain little or no alcohol. They also contain salt and other additives that can add chemical nuances to your dish. So skip this option all together.
Dry vs. Sweet
Wine is in various categories and so is food. Depending on what you are cooking, for instance a spicy dish will require dry wine; For dry reds, you have more to choose from: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Pinot Noir and in some cases if a label describes its wine as fruity, that just means it has a concentrated fruit flavour, it has nothing to do with sugar. For sweeter whites wines , look for Riesling, Semillon and Muscat.
Only cook with something you like to drink
It has been said that you shouldn’t cook with a pricy bottle of wine, especially if it’s one you like to drink. When cooking wine, the characteristics change. Alcohol burns off and usually it reduces to concentrate the flavors. So concentrate a flavor you desire, don’t make an offensive sip worse by strengthening it in a dish. And always remember when in doubt ask your wine shop owner/ manager.