Wine can add colour, richness, acidity and body to sauces, stews, soups, and casseroles. It is also an ingredient in many marinades. To be successful, a wine should not be completely devoid of fruit or, even worse, faulty, Neither does it have to be the best bottle in the cellar. Research shows however, that the better the wine, the better the final result.
If you are looking for a successful match between the wine in your glass and the wine in a dish, it makes sense to use a wine with similar characteristics. A good cook will consider the individual facets of a wine before incorporating it into a dish. Alcohol will be boiled off when added to a hot pan but care should be taken when making iced desserts as, if too much wine is added, alcohol will lower the freezing point and the dessert may not set.
When using sweet wines, or any wine with an element of sweetmess, the flavour will intensify as the sauce cooks and reduces. Taste, to make sure that the wine you are about to drink has the same degree of sweetness as the sauce.
Remenber too, that fruit and vegetables such as tomatoes, carrots, onions and garlic, will reveal sweetness when cooked. Tomatoes also contain acidity, so look for complementary characteristics in a wine. If cooking with a white wine which has fairly crisp acidity, remember that the acidity also intensifies as it cooks. If you sauce becomes too acidic, adjust by adding cream or butter.
Some dishes rely very much on wine as an ingredient, for example boeuf bourgignon and coq au vin. The wine adds a richness and intensity of flavour to the dish.
However, highly flavoured or aromatic and oaked wines are often best avoided. Aromatics are lost very quickly once the wine begins to boil, while oak does not evapoarte, but the oak flavour concentrates as it reduces, rendering a sauce possibly too powerful for the food.
If you keep leftover wine, or have a separate supply for cooking purposes, use a wine preserver to keep it in good condition. Keeping bottles in the refrigerator will also help to retain an element of freshness.