Cooking with wine

Alcohol in cooking

The amount of alcohol that remains in your dish is dependent on the manner and length of preparation. Typically, the alcohol in the wine evaporates while cooking and only the flavour remains.

The following table of alcohol remaining after food preparation is from the Agricultural Research Services of the USDA (1989).

Alcohol retention

UseAlcohol retained
Immediate consumption100%
Boiling liquid, remove from heat85%
Flamed75%
Overnight storage (Open)70%

Alcohol retention over cooking time

Dishes that have been baked or simmeredAlcohol retained
After 15 minutes40%
After 30 minutes35%
After 1 hour25%
After 1.5 hours20%
After 2 hours10%
After 2.5 hours5%

Wine Reduction for Pan Sauces

As an estimate;

½-¾ cup of wine = 2 tbsp. of wine reduction

For the best flavour, wine should be reduced slowly over low heat. This method takes more time and effort, but it will likely achieve a superior sauce because the flavour compounds present in the wine are better preserved.

Other advice for cooking with wine

  • Keep leftover wine – white and red – in the fridge, and it should be suitable for cooking with for up to a week. Any longer than that and the contents will have oxidised and would probably spoil your meal.
  • Stir in 1-2 tablespoons of a full-bodied red wine into the brown gravy and let it simmer to create rich brown gravy for red meat.
  • Adding cold wine can make the meat tough, while warm wine helps tenderise it.
  • Serve the same wine with dinner that you cooked with, as they will balance each other. If you prefer to use a fine/expensive wine during dinner, then try to stay within the same wine family.

If you have any other questions about cooking with wine please get in touch.

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