Stop Whining and Start with Wine
OK. So, you jumped on the “5-Cent” sale at your local BevMo, and some of those bottles were slightly less spectacular than what the descriptions read, not providing what you wanted in a “good” wine. You’ve most likely wondered what the heck you are going to do with those bottles filling up cabinet space, or worse, your wine refrigerator.
Cook using wine!
You most likely do not want to us those special bottles of Artesa Private Reserve Chardonnay, but feel free to dust off those “everyday” bottles of wine that are not getting younger, and use them before they are on their journey to becoming bad vinegar.
Using wine is an excellent way to take some of the fat out of dishes while adding flavor and moisture. Instead of sautéing veggies in heaps of butter or oil, you can sauté them in a smaller amount of oil plus some wine for flavor and moisture. Instead of making a marinade with 1/2 cup of oil, decrease the oil to 1/4 cup and add 1/4 cup wine. Instead of adding 3/4 cup of oil to a cake mix recipe, add 3/4 cup of white or dessert wine to the batter.
Those who have taken my Culinary Boot Camps will tell you that very last thing I add to any of my soups is water. Instead, my hearty flavor-packed soups start with a base of wine (after sautéing any aromatic vegetables) and quality stock (chicken, beef, vegetable or fish), then building on that foundation with the proteins, seasonings and spices.
Here are some general tips to using wine in cooking:
Add wine to the pan shortly after fish has browned on one side to turn a frying process into a poaching process.
Marinade your meats using wine (combined with citrus and a little oil). Wine is basically an acidic ingredient that contain a lot of flavor. Wine-based marinades facilitate keeping meat, poultry or seafood moist while it cooks. My braising solutions usually include wine, such as that contained in Beef Bourguignon.
Add wine to dishes you’re cooking in a skillet on the stove, in a slow cooker, or in the oven. Simmered along with the food, it adds flavor and moisture to whatever dish you’re making.
For those with convictions of not consuming alcohol, remember the vast majority of alcohol is “cooked-off” during the cooking process. You absorb more alcohol from alcohol-based mouthwashes than you will from wine cooked in a dish.
Also, there have been some Gluten-free controversies of consuming wine aged in barrels supposedly sealed with a flour paste. After speaking personally with many vintners and wine producers, I have learned most quality coopered wine kegs do not require any additional sealing components other than the silicone rubber bung (or plug) at the side (or top) of the barrels. After barrels are assembled and toasted, they are floated in water causing the wood to swell and seal. Kegs are then pressure-tested to determine if they are fit to store hundreds or thousands of dollars of wine in them for the next few years.
Remember, glutenin (actually the prolamin and glutelin from wheat), is water-insoluble. If flour might be employed as a fining (or clarifying) agent, it settles to the bottom of the barrel. When the wine is “racked” (or siphoned off) any residual proteins would be left behind. However, most American, Spanish, and Australian wine use NO flour in any of their processing. If someone on a Gluten-free diet suffers from consuming wine, it is usually due to the nitrates in the wine, and all wines contain some level of nitrates, whether natural or added. If in doubt, call the vintner and ask.
Check back next week for some specific guidelines for using wine.
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Chef David Hall