Cooking with Wine: 101

Just as there is a lot of confusion about what types of wines to serve with a meal, there is an equally large cloud of confusion that surrounds the idea of cooking with wine. Here’s what I want you to do. Take a deep breath, exhale, pour wine into your dish and into your glass and enjoy.

There is no need to stress out. We all know that having wine with a meal can take it from good to great or from amazing to astonishing. That’s because the components of wine, primarily the flavor profile and acidity, work well with particular dishes. The same concept can be applied to using wine in your dish to allow those components to really accentuate the meal, regardless of if you are preparing a marinade, making vinaigrette, sautéing, boiling or even baking.

These aren't hard and fast rules, just some guidelines to consider. Trust your palate because ultimately it's your enjoyment of the meal and experience that really matters. Here are some initial Do's and Don'ts to consider when cooking with wine:

* Don't cook with wine you wouldn't want to drink (exceptions are rich sauces, stews and roasts); while most of the alcohol burns off while cooking, the flavor remains. Therefore, make sure the flavor will complement your dish

* Do buy a quality wine costing $15 and under to cook with, plus enjoy with the meal

* Don't use expensive wines to cook with. Save that bottle to have with the meal

* Do use slightly older wines or box wines for cooking rather than buying new bottles if you cook on a regular or daily basis

* Don't use cooking wines from the grocery store. These wines typically have a lot of sodium added to them