Archive for March 2011

Cooking with wine – Tips and guidelines

March 30, 2011

 

There are certain guidelines when cooking with wine and it is important to know what effect the wine can have on the dish.

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).

During marination the tannins and other acids in the wine penetrate the meat’s fibers and bind to its proteins, leaving the meat much softer and tastier than it was before its wine bath. Adding tannin-rich wine while cooking will improve the flavours of a meat dish beyond recognition, softening and rounding out hidden fragrances. In cooking, the tannins bind to the meat proteins and coax out their best flavours. When the food is eaten only the aroma remains; the tannins do not react adversely with the proteins in saliva to spoil the enjoyment.

But beware – adding red wine to a vegetable dish does exactly the opposite. The tannins will remain, making the dish relatively astringent. For that reason it’s best to use white wine or a low-tannin red wine when cooking vegetarian foods.

Source: haaretz.com

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First post

March 30, 2011