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Three Tips for Cooking with Wine

“I enjoy cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food I’m cooking.” –Julia Child

Oh, Julia, how well you understood. I, too, prefer to consume wine while cooking. I keep a glass next to the stovetop as I stir, and the opened bottle is always at the ready to add a dose to the pot.

Recently, it’s become trendy to “bake with booze” too – hello Fernet cupcakes! But there’s a reason why wine is such an enduring ingredient: It adds layers of complex flavor without overwhelming a dish.

One caveat: Don’t use any wine you wouldn’t want to drink. That nasty bottle of “cooking sherry” that’s been sitting opened in the back of your spice cupboard? Pour it down the drain. NOW. I’ll wait.

Some of my favorite ways to cook with wine:

Mix up a marinade.  I’ll add perhaps a quarter cup of Chardonnay and fresh rosemary sprigs to orange juice to marinate a quartered chicken before roasting it. Or add a few tablespoons of Cabernet to thyme and soy sauce for a steak cut destined for the grill.

Deglaze a pan. After removing fish from the pan for a Trout Almandine, a swirl of Sauvignon Blanc and a little more butter (Julia would approve!) is all I need to coax the tasty browned bits from the pan to create a sauce to dress the dish.

Add flavor to stewed dishes. Since, apparently, I have Julia on the brain today, it seems fitting that her succulent Coq au Vin comes to mind. In her original 1979 recipe, Julia simmered her bird in Pinot Noir, Burgundy or Côtes du Rhône, but I’d bet any good French red would do her proud.

And the best part of cooking with wine is there’s no need to fuss over pairings. Just serve a glass of whatever is already in the dish.

You know what Julia would say, don’t you? Trill it with me: Bon appétit!

What are your favorite tips and recipes for incorporating wine into cooking?

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