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Cooking with Wine


In order to cook with wine you need to know what wine is made of and what will be the effect on certain dishes when wine is used in the cooking process.

Wine is made up of water, grape acids, tannins and alcohol. All of these players, individually and together, affect the final result. Alcohol itself is tasteless, but it affects the release of flavour and fragrance molecules from the other components. It helps fats to dissolve and penetrate the food, bringing out hidden flavours. This is a chemical reaction that “ordinary” liquids, like water or stock, or even fats such as butter or oil cannot achieve. For this reason, when wine is added to the pot it should be allowed to simmer, uncovered, so that the alcohol and some of the volume evaporate. Never add wine at the end of cooking.

When red wine is made, the seeds and the skins are in prolonged contact with the grape juice, so red wine is rich in tannins. White wine is low in tannins because the juice does not come into contact with the skin and seeds during fermentation. Thick-skinned grapes (such as cabernet sauvignon) will result in tannin-rich wine, in contrast to thin-skinned varieties (like merlot).

White wine is low in tannins because the juice does not come into contact with the skin and seeds during fermentation. Thick-skinned grapes (such as cabernet sauvignon) will result in tannin-rich wine, in contrast to thin-skinned varieties (like merlot).

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