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From Cellar to Saucepan; Cooking with Wine 101

It's no surprise that we think good food and good wine just makes life...well, better. So when it comes to blending two things we love dearly, of course we're going to be big supporters.

Today we're talking about cooking with wine. Uncork your fav bottle of red, and peruse our tips and tricks below to unlock a new level of cooking.

How to choose a wine to cook with

The most important rule of cooking with wine: only use wines in your cooking that you would drink in a glass. This probably goes without being said, but if you don't like the taste of a certain wine, you won't like the dish you choose to use it in. Simple as that.

An expensive wine is not necessary, although a cheap wine will not bring out the best characteristics of your dish. A good quality wine, that you enjoy, will provide the same flavor to a dish as a premium wine.

Save the "good" wine to serve with your meal!

How to cook with wine

Wine has three main uses in the kitchen: as a marinade ingredient, as a cooking liquid, and as a flavoring in a finished dish.

The function of wine in cooking is to intensify, enhance, and accent the flavor and aroma of food – not to mask the flavor of what you are cooking but rather to fortify it.

As with any seasoning used in cooking, care should be taken in the amount of wine used – too little is inconsequential and too much will be overpowering. Neither extreme is desirable. A small quantity of wine will enhance the flavor of the dish.

For best results, wine should not be added to a dish just before serving. The wine should simmer with the food, or sauce, to enhance the flavor of the dish. If added late in the preparation, it could impart a harsh quality. It should simmer with the food or in the sauce while it is being cooked; as the wine cooks, it reduces and becomes an extract which flavors. Wine added too late in the preparation will give a harsh quality to the dish. A wine needs time to impart its flavor in your dish. Wait 10 minutes or more to taste before adding more wine.

Remember that wine does not belong in every dish. More than one wine-based sauce in a single meal can be monotonous. Use wine is cooking only when it has something to contribute to the finished dish.

Does cooking with wine "cook off" the alcohol?

The alcohol in the wine evaporates while the food is cooking, and only the flavor remains. Boiling down wine concentrates the flavor, including acidity and sweetness. Be careful not to use too much wine as the flavor could overpower your dish.

Suggested amounts of wine to use for cooking:

  • Soups – 2 tablespoons per cup

  • Sauces – 1 tablespoon per cup

  • Gravies – 2 tablespoons per cup

  • Stews & Meats – 1/4 cup per pound

  • Poaching liquid for fish – 1/2 cup per quart


In person and online cooking classes.

Online or in person private classes are available and fully customizable.

Whether it's a birthday celebration, a work retreat, or a date night, let us set up a private cooking class for you with any chef around the world. 

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