10 ways to use wine when cooking, according to chefs

Cooking wineKondor83/ iStockCooking with red wine.
  • Wine is great on its own, but it also pairs well with many different dishes.
  • Beyond wine and food pairing, there is a myriad of cooking techniques that involve wine, which can enhance the flavours of and transform many of your favourite recipes.
  • INSIDER spoke to several chefs to find out how to put your wine to good use in the kitchen.

Wine is a very important ingredient to chefs and for good reason. But because wine is often used in gourmet dishes, you might assume that it’s an ingredient you should leave to the professionals.

Yet you too can incorporate wine into your dishes when cooking at home without a gourmet chef’s expertise. INSIDER asked a couple of chefs to give us their best tips on using wine in the kitchen to transform simple dishes into something truly spectacular.

Wine can be used for marinating meat

A marinade is designed to both tenderize and impart flavour to the meat you are working with. A marinade is typically made of oil, herbs, spices, and acid. When using wine in your marinade recipe, it’s important to add the right amount of wine and to leave enough time for marinating, according to Lorenzo Boni, the executive chef at Barilla America.

“Add a good amount – enough to cover a mix of meat, veggies, and aromatic herbs – and let sit overnight. However, in the case of seafood, the marinating time should be limited to minutes,” Lorenzo told INSIDER.

Use wine to make both types of ‘gravy’

There are a couple of definitions of gravy in the United States, but both allow for and prosper with the addition of wine. For some on the East coast, “gravy” is a term for a red sauce and/or a meat sauce, according to Lorenzo.

Cooking your tomato sauce for too longKalitAntye/ ShutterstockRed sauce gets an extra kick from wine.

“In that case, I add wine after the meat is thoroughly browned well, just before adding tomato sauce. I make sure to reduce the wine well before adding the tomato sauce, otherwise, the flavour of alcohol and raw wine will carry to the end. I can’t stress that enough.”

Others will be more familiar with “gravy” as a brown sauce that accompanies roasted turkey and biscuits. In that case, you would add the wine to the pan after adding flour to your recipe. Let the wine reduce until the flour mixture thickens, then add stock and/or water, according to Mark Hennessey, the executive chef at Le Marais Restaurant.

Finish cooking your pasta with a red wine reduction

A red-wine reduction is basically a sauce that’s typically comprised of butter, flour, vegetables, herbs, and wine. It’s fairly simple to make and you can use it on a variety of dishes.

“I really love using a reduction of red wine to finish pasta. I keep my pasta halfway cooked and then finish it over high heat, right inside the wine reduction. The pasta turns a beautiful, deep red. I then finish it with aged Parmigiano, crispy pancetta and some aromatic herbs. It’s spaghetti heaven,” Lorenzo told INSIDER.

Deglaze your pan with wine to make a flavorful sauce

Wine can also be used to deglaze a pan, or moisten it, to make a sauce, according to Hennessey.

After sauteing your protein and removing it from the pan, slowly add wine to the pan to deglaze it and begin scraping off the browned bits on the bottom of the pan leftover from your protein. This creates a fast and flavorful pan sauce that’s pretty simple to do.

“Reduce the wine, add a fresh herb, and then finish with a pat a butter. Pan sauce is ready to go,” Hennessey told INSIDER.

Wine can be a great base for braising

Braised chickenPhilDarby/ iStockBraised chicken.

Braising is merely the act of simmering meat and vegetables in liquid in a covered pot. And in classic French cookery, braises are all generally wine based, Hennessey said. The wine is reduced down in the same pan that the protein has been browned in as a base for the braising liquid, he explained.

“Brown the meat and vegetables, and stir in wine from a marinade. Then, braise at low temperature for a long period of time for best results,” Lorenzo told INSIDER.

You can poach your vegetables or protein in wine

Poaching is a cooking technique that involves the submersion of food in a liquid kept over a constant simmer. Poaching liquids are made in advance to ensure that the flavours, acids and/or tannins are balanced before the protein enters the liquid, according to Hennessey. Basic poaching liquids are reduced wine, water, stock, aromatics, and fresh herbs.

I typically use 70% broth and 30% of whatever I am cooking. For instance: To poach seafood, I use 70% fish stock and 30% Pinot Grigio. To poach veggies, I use 70% veggie stock and 30% Chardonnay,” Lorenzo said. “And, no matter what I’m poaching, I always like to add aromatic herbs, spices, sea salt and so on.”

Desserts can benefit from wine too

Beyond savoury dishes, wine can also be used in desserts. Wines are commonly used in poaching fruits for desserts, according to Hennessey.

“Once the fruit is finished with its poach, the wine liquid can then be reduced down to a syrup and used as a sauce,” he told INSIDER. “Also, wines are used in the making of adult gummies, a great little party trick if you have the time and inclination to do so.”

Wine in risotto cuts the richness of the butter and cheese

You can make a risotto recipe even better with the addition of a glass of white wine. The acidity of the wine cuts the richness of the butter and cheese, according to Lorenzo, which gives it a deeper flavour. To incorporate the wine into your risotto, it’s important to add it at the right time to pull out the best flavours.

“You should let the wine simmer with the broth or stock for a few minutes (do not bring to a boil). The flavours need some time to get to know each other before they meld with the rice in the pan,” he said.

A surprising way to use wine is for pickling veggies

Many people know that vinegar is commonly used for pickling, but you can also use wine as the pickling liquid. Red or white wine can be used, but just be aware that red wine will turn all of your vegetables pink.

Wine is also great for making homemade charcuterie

Wine pairs perfectly with a plate of charcuterie. In the same vein, wine also is perfectly suited for the making of cured meats. Wine with a lot of tannins and structure give balance and weight to charcuterie and gives it an extra rich flavour.

“I will often grind up fresh meat at home for sausage and wine is always a part of that, especially in the Italian sausage – a little white wine always makes it better,” Hennessey told INSIDER.

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