Do You Know Nutrition: Cooking with wine

By Phylis Canion
July 2, 2013 at 2:02 a.m.

I am trying to prepare tastier and healthier meals, and I'm wondering how easy is it to cook with wine? I read a recipe that called for fortified wine - is that a special wine? Are there certain wines that do better with certain foods and certain foods that do better with different wines? Thanks for your help.

Wine is fermented grape juice and can also be produced from a number of fruits, herbs, berries and flowers. While wine is composed of water, alcohol, various pigments, esters, vitamins, minerals, acids and tannins, it never remains in a constant state. Because of the constant changes, these suggestions may help you when cooking with wine.

Wine has a tendency to cause curdling in recipes that contain dairy products, so it is best to add the wine and blend it in before you add the dairy product.

Another secret is to keep the dish warm until it is served as this will also prevent the curdling. Foods that have a high acid content do not get along well with wine. These include salad dressings with a vinegar base and citrus fruits.

Egg yolks do not blend well with wine because of their sulfur content. While the health benefits of asparagus, onions, tomatoes, pineapples and artichokes are enormous, they do not combine well with wine. However, if you have a recipe that calls for onions and wine, saute the onions first until they are transparent before adding any wine. Fortified wines, sherry, port and Madeira, are recommended for soups, stews, soups and sauces, and should be added to foods just before serving.

As a rule of thumb, two tablespoons of fortified wine is equal to a half cup of table wine. Red wines will have a better flavor if used in marinades, meat sauces, stews and meat-based gravies. Because of the stronger, richer flavor of red wine, it is best with chicken, beef, lamb and pork entrees. Brandy is best in desserts while zinfandels and Chablis compliment chicken and seafood dishes.

And for a few final wine tip; when wine is heated, it will reduce from one cup to one quarter cup in about eight minutes, so it is best to add wine close to the end of the cooking time.

Leftover wine (is there such a thing?) is best stored in a small bottle and refrigerated if its remainder is intended for cooking. The reason? The less space between the wine and the top of the bottle, the longer the wine will retain its flavor and aroma.

Thought for the week: Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success.

Next free nutrition class is July 8 at Organic Emporium.

Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant, email her at This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.



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