Facts and fiction on cooking with wine

“I always cook with wine,” goes the joke. “Sometimes I even put some in the food.”

Using wine as a cooking liquid goes way back in culinary time. The West’s first “cookbook,” compiled in the first century, “De re coquinaria” (“On Cooking”), included dozens of recipes that used wine.

The Romans so fancied wine for cooking that they prepared a concentrate of grape must (unfermented grape juice) called defrutum, which was kept around the hearth and used both to color and sweeten foods. In the East, centuries of Japanese and Chinese cooks have made wine from fruits or rice and used these liquids in cooking.

The ways of wine in cooking are legion: to marinate, macerate, saute, poach, boil, braise, stew, reduce or deglaze. Some cooks use wine for stir-fries, steaming or blanching. A splash of it straight out of the bottle is an added flavor in many a vinaigrette or other cold sauce.

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