Wednesday, February 18, 2009

cooking with wine

chocolate wine cake

Due to an unfortunate incident in college, I don't like the taste of red wine. The mouth feel of the alcohol, the astringent taste of the tannins, the smell all make my stomach turn a little. That being said, when i saw a recipe for this mushroom bourguignon from Smitten Kitchen, I was inspired to learn to cook with red wine.

Cooking with wine itself isn't necessarily complex, but what happens to the taste of a dish when you add wine to a dish is. The tannins in the wine are attracted to the protein and fat in the food instead of your tongue, which reduces the astringent flavor, while allowing the fruity flavors to concentrate as you cook the wine. The alcohol is generally reduced to nothing, or at least practically nothing.

The rules of cooking with wine are pretty simple, the most important, the one that every single site emphasizes before anything else is that you should never ever ever cook with wine that you don't want to drink. For this reason, you should never use cooking wine, which is subpar wine with salt added to keep people from drinking it and to "enhance flavor". For me choosing a wine was difficult, because I don't like to drink red wine. So instead of going by taste, I read the labels at the Wine Emporium until I found a red with a delicious sounding description. The wine I chose, Bodega Septima Tempranillo, has "sweet aromas of fruits, marmalade and citrus." which all sounded very appealing.

The type of wine depends on the recipes you use. For a recipe that specifies the type of wine, you should find out it's main characteristics and either choose that kind of wine, or a wine with similar qualities. If it just says "red wine" it is generally ok to use whatever red wine you like that has some characteristics you think would go well with your food. Certain recipes will call for a fortified wine such as sherry or vermouth, these wines have more intense flavors than normal reds or whites.

For my first try, I cooked the Mushroom bourguignon recipe, and it was unbelievably delicious! It had this really rich layered flavor that was incredibly delicious. I would have taken pictures, but brown mushrooms in a brown sauce is kind of ugly. The recipe takes some time, and assumes that you've cooked mushrooms enough to know how long to brown them so that they are brown, but before they begin giving off liquid. But you should try it because it's definitely worth it!

I still had a bunch of wine left, and since I couldn't drink it, I started scrounging for recipes. I came across all kinds of things, sauces, marinades, even wine sorbet (you can also buy wine sorbet online or in certain stores via wine cellar sorbet). This rissotto rosso with sage sounded great, but the real winner was this red wine cake. It seemed kind of romantic, because wine and chocolate are such staples of Valentine's day.

It was only my second cake, and I did pretty well, except that i took it out of the pan too early and some of it stuck. A tip for new cake makers, let the cake cool before messing with it! I also used jello with sugar, so it's a little extra sweet. But it's a beautiful color and it's tender and soft and pretty great.

All in all, cooking with wine was a success.

For more information, see the links below

An incredibly detailed article on coq au vin, with the Good Eats episode and Julia Child's famous recipe, as well as a bunch of interesting facts about wine and coq au vin

An intro to cooking with wine

a more detailed introduction with interesting facts about tannins via

a very detailed set of articles about cooking with wine

advice from webmd wine can be used to reduce the calories in many foods. It can either add flavor so you don't need butter or in certain places it can replace ingredients that are high in calories!
The NPR story about the guys who sell what sounds like totally delicious wine sorbet (I really want to try the champagne flavor!) listen to the creator talk

1 comment:

  1. Would you make the cake again?



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