“I cook with wine; sometimes I even add it to the food.” – W.C. Fields
At a wine and jazz festival I was attending they offered a course entitled “Cooking With Wine.” The chef prepared three courses: salad (with a vinaigrette), entrée (with a pan sauce for chicken), and dessert (with berries over ice cream). Each of the dishes contained a reduction of the wine that was selected to accompany the dish, and the result was a perfect wine/food pairing for each course.
It seemed like such a novel idea at the time, and so unbelievably simple. To get the perfect wine/dish pairing, use the wine you will be serving as one of the ingredients of the dish and voilà.
You will find this concept is applicable in composing your own renditions or your own original recipes. I think this will get your creative juices flowing. The featured recipe is a vinaigrette dressing from that cooking course.
Chardonnay Vinaigrette Dressing
1/2 cupWhite wine (Chardonnay is preferable)
1/3 cupVinegar white wine
1 tspDijon mustard
1/8 tspBlack pepper (ground)
1 cupVegetable oil
Fresh greensType can vary as can amount
The salad dressing reduction below concentrates the flavor of the chosen wine (in this case a Chardonnay) which is added to a classic vinaigrette (one part vinegar to three parts oil). I encourage you to personalize the dressing to your own tastes.
Prepare ahead of time and refrigerate.
Time: Make ahead and refrigerate.
In a skillet saute shallot in a small amount of EVOO over medium heat until soft.
Add the Chardonnay and reduce to about one half.
Add the white wine vinegar and reduce a bit more.
Stir in the sugar, honey, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper until incorporated.
Let cool, and then add one cup of vegetable oil.
Shake well before serving.
Cooking with an expensive wine is not necessary; however, it also should be noted that cooking with a cheap wine will certainly not enhance your dish. What’s important is to use a medium-priced wine that is the same varietal of the wine you will be serving your guests, so if you will be serving a Cabernet Sauvignon, you should cook with a Cabernet Sauvignon.
Be careful. Adding too much wine can unbalance a dish. Another point to remember is wine needs some time to release its flavor, so wait at least 10 minutes, then taste before deciding if you need to add more wine. Be sure the wine has been warmed. It is generally best not to boil wine.