from Herbed-Wine Cuisine by Janice Mancuso
Creating & Cooking with Herb-Infused Wines
Author Janice Mancuso's simple method turns ordinary wine into a magical cooking ingredient with herbs, flowers, fruits, and spices. More than 100 easy-to-make recipes using the wines are included -- many low-salt, low-fat, or fat-free!
Buy This Book
There are many kinds of wine available on the market, and each has a unique taste, based on the type of grapes and the fermentation process used.
The following guidelines will give you the basics on choosing wine for flavoring and cooking. Keep in mind that within each varietal, the wines range in taste from sweet to dry and in body from light to heavy. The characteristics of the wine will determine how it will be flavored and how it can be used when cooking.
White wines tend to be the most versatile for flavoring and cooking. They are generally light in body with a delicate nature, are easily flavored, and, since they do not add color, can be used in just about any recipe.
Some white wines used for flavored mixtures are Chardonnay (dry and fruity), Chablis Blanc (very dry and woodsy), and Rhine (sweet and crisp). Although these wines have different characteristics, they can be used interchangeably. The Rhine imparts a sweeter taste than the Chablis Blanc, yet both are suitable for many recipes.
The adage "white with fish, red with meat" does hold true to a certain degree when cooking with wine, simply because white wine will not color food. Chicken, fish, pasta, and light-colored vegetables are good candidates for white-wine mixtures. There are exceptions, though, and depending on the other ingredients, the cooking technique, and the final appearance of the food, a rosé or a red may be used.
Red wines are hearty and flavorful, imparting a mellow richness, especially to meat, beans, tomatoes, and berries. The wines used to prepare the flavored mixtures are Burgundy (robust), Pinot Noir (tart and mildly fruity), Merlot (dense, smooth and woodsy), and Cabernet Sauvignon (semidry and fruity).
Once again, depending on the ingredients and the cooking methods, the wines are interchangeable, and each will impart a slightly different flavor.
Since red wine does add color, it's best not to use these flavored wine mixtures when preparing light-colored foods. There are exceptions, however. So feel free to experiment, keeping in mind that anything you cook in red wine will take on a deep mauve hue.
Rosé wines are sweet and slightly sparkling, a good alternative to the subtle white wines and the heavier red wines. They work well with all foods but will add a delicate lavender pink to light-colored foods.
As with other mixtures, flavored rosé can also be used in different recipes. Once again, the slight variations in seasonings will result in some very tasty dishes.
In addition to the "basic rosé," you can experiment with Grenache Rosé and White Zinfandel.