Cooking with wine can be a challenge because it’s hard for any chef to keep the wine in the pot and not in their mouth! If you have enough self control to keep at least some of the wine in your dish, there are a few things to remember.
Wine acts as a moisturizer for food. With this in mind, remember that the acids in wine helps to tenderize meat and it can also help to refresh your palate if you’re cooking a richer, fattier dish.
Pro-Tip - acid to acid! If you’re cooking a dish with a good amount of acid (think salads with vinaigrette dressings and tomato based dishes), your best bet is to add a wine with a good amount of acid to its structure, like a Sauvignon Blanc or virtually any Italian red wine (Sangiovese is the acid grape!).
On the flip side, some people like to use a high acid wine in rich and fatty dishes to help cleanse the palate and act as a refreshing break to the buttery and thicker textured foods.
Another good tip is consider what kind of dish you’re cooking, be it Italian, Spanish, Mediterranean, French - use wines from these areas, as they were made to pair with local fare!
Pinot Noir is at the heart of many classic French recipes, and the most famous area for this grape is Burgundy. Also from the same region is Chardonnay, both oaked and unoaked, and this is a great wine to cook with mushroom risotto, chicken, and fish dishes.
Most salads do well with Sauvignon Blanc, a dry Riesling, and unoaked Chardonnay. If you're feeling adventurous, try Gavi from Italy or Athiri from Greece, a great pair with a Mediterranean salad.
For heartier dishes with red meats or stews try a tannic Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Nebbiolo, or Shiraz. And if BBQ is on the menu, a Zinfandel is great for braised meats and BBQ sauces.
And of course, desserts call for dessert wine, the sweetness of your dish requires an equally sweet wine. Look for Icewine or even a port!
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