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Culinary Corner - June/July 2011

Cooking with Wine

If you've never used wine in a recipe, don't be intimidated. In many ways wine is like any liquid you normally add to a recipe. As the dish cooks, the liquid evaporates and the flavors become more concentrated.

If you're thinking of adding wine to your culinary tool kit, start simple. Try replacing some of the liquid in your favorite sauce recipe with wine or add it to soup in place of some of the broth. You'll find the dish tastes similar to what you're used to, but the flavors have become more intense and layered.

Here are a few more tips:

  • The most important thing to remember: Only cook with wine you'd drink. If you don't like the flavors in the glass, you'll like them even less when they're more concentrated after cooking down.
  • White wine will bring a touch of acidity to a dish and will often add a bright, citrusy flavor. Because of that, whites work well with seafood dishes and cream sauces.
  • Red wine will add depth to the flavors already present in your dish. Keep in mind reds will also add color, which makes them best for enhancing red sauces and dark meats.
  • While it's true that most of the alcohol will evaporate in the cooking process, the amount that remains varies. Baking and roasting at lower temperatures will cook off less alcohol than boiling. The amount of time is also a factor.

Because he grew up near the border of France and Spain, our Executive Chef François Sanchez learned how to cook with wine at an early age. Today he is sharing  his recipe for Steamed West-Coast Mussels and Basil in Spanish Verdejo Wine.

Click here for a down-loadable PDF of the recipe.

Verdejo wine (also called Verdejo Palido) is made mostly from grapes grown in the Rueda region of Spain, northwest of Madrid. It is typically very aromatic, smelling of green apples or citrus. Its crisp acidity makes it very food-friendly, although it's great for drinking on its own, too.  Besides the mussels in Chef Sanchez' recipe, try it with garlic shrimp or some Serrano ham.

If you try the recipe or have some suggestions, leave a comment and let us know what you think!


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