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California Wine, All the Time | Poppy & Quail Blog

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Cooking With Wine

May 16, 2018


It’s well known that wine can be enjoyed with a delicious meal, but it also serves another purpose! Wine can be used within a dish to intensify, enhance and accent flavor and aroma. Its three main uses in the kitchen include as a marinade ingredient, as a cooking liquid and as a flavoring in a finished dish.

The wine’s alcohol will evaporate while the food is cooking, leaving only the flavor. Boiling wine helps concentrate the flavor, including acidity and sweetness. Like other seasoning and ingredients used when cooking, it is important to be cognizant of the amount of wine used. Too little barely makes a difference while too much can be overwhelming. An adequate quantity will enhance the flavor of the dish.

wine and cooking

Wine's Best Uses in Dishes

It is best not to add wine to your dish just before serving. This leads to a harsh taste. Try to simmer the wine with the food or sauce for enhanced flavor.

Keep in mind that wine is not necessary for every dish. Be picky; wine should contribute something to the food. Here are some great examples of cooking with wine:

  • Enhance the flavor of your fish. Add flavor without adding fat by simmering your fish with wine. Poach the fish over a saucepan of boiling wine, or drizzle fish with a tablespoon or two of wine and bake it in a foil package.
  • Use wine in marinades. Wine can be used as an acid ingredient, which helps tenderize the outside of meat. It also has a lot of flavor. When used as a marinade, wine helps keep meat, poultry and seafood moist while it cooks.
  • Don’t forget dessert! Use wine instead of fat to add some additional tasty flavors.

Tips for Cooking with Wine

Step up your game with these tips for cooking with wine:

  1. Recognize wine’s subtle flavors when deciding what to use for your dish. For reference, here are some foods in certain dishes that work exquisitely well with wine.
    • White wine: melon, apple, pineapple, pear, citrus, vanilla, caramel, olives and mushrooms
    • Red wine: berries, peaches, currants, plums, cherries, oranges, chocolate and coffee
  2. Keep in mind the differences between dry and sweet wine. A very dry wine has minimal sugar remaining and is usually higher in alcohol. Sweeter wines, on the other hand, contain a larger amount of natural sugar. Base your choice off of the flavor of the dish you are making.
  3. Think about your pairing. Don't be afraid to do your own thing, but typically, light-colored meats, such as chicken and fish, pair nicely with light-colored wines (white) while dark-colored meats, like beef, pair nicely with dark-colored wines (red).

Cooking is about experimentation and creativity, and cooking with wine is no different. Have fun!


Here are some California Wines we think you’ll love: 

The McNab

Sauvignon Blanc

Sanctuary Cabernet Sauvignon