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7 Secrets of Cooking With Wine

Raise a glass to this low-fat, high-flavor ingredient

WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Expert Column

You know those bottles of wine you picked up because they were on sale, and now you're wondering what you are going to do with them? I've got your answer: Cook and bake with the wine. You probably wouldn't want to cook with a special bottle of wine but those wild-card bottles collecting dust in the pantry -- why not?

When I think of wine, I think of a great fat substitute in recipes. I'm probably unusual in this regard, but I actually use wine more often in cooking than I do as a beverage with dinner.

When you take some of the fat out of dishes, you usually need to add another ingredient to replace the lost moisture. Here are some examples of how wine can do just that:

  • Instead of sautéing veggies in heaps of butter or oil, you can sauté them in a smaller amount of oil plus some wine for flavor and moisture.
  • Instead of making a marinade with 1/2 cup of oil, decrease the oil to 1/4 cup and add 1/4 cup wine.
  • Instead of adding 3/4 cup of oil to a cake mix recipe, add 3/4 cup of white or dessert wine to the batter.

Here are my favorite ways to use wine in light cooking:

  • Wine helps cook and add flavor to fish. Deep-fried fish dipped in tartar sauce, albeit tasty, defeats the nutritional purpose of eating fish. One way to add flavor and moisture to fish without adding fat is to cook it with wine. You can add wine to the pan while the fish is simmering, 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.
  • Wine is a great ingredient in marinades. Wine is basically an acid ingredient (which helps tenderize the outside of the meat) and it has a lot of flavor. The wine-based marinade helps keep meat, poultry, or seafood moist while it cooks, too.
  • Wine can help cook and simmer foods. Add wine to dishes you're cooking in a skillet on the stove, in a slow cooker, or in the oven. Simmered along with the food, it adds flavor and moisture to whatever dish you're making.
  • Wine can be used in baking, too! For certain types of cakes, using wine or sherry in place of some of the fat not only lightens up the cake but adds complimentary flavors.

7 Secrets of Cooking With Wine

Ready to start experimenting with wine cookery? Here are seven basics you should know.

1. Play off the subtle flavors in wine.

Here are some of the subtle food-like flavors that can come through in wine -- which you may want to capitalize on by adding some to dishes containing these foods:

  • White wine: melon, apple, pineapple, pear, citrus, vanilla, caramel, olives, and mushrooms
  • Red wine: berries, peaches, currants, plums, cherries, oranges, chocolate, and coffee

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