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I was watching Bruno Albouze's video on Beef Bourguignon, and I noticed that in order to get rid of the alcohol, he flambés the wine (https://youtu.be/DPB4jvHiVec?t=38) . I always thought that wine couldn't be flambé'd, so how does he do that ?

I'm curious about this method because last time I made Beef Bourguignon, I found the sauce to be a bit too "alcoholy" to my taste.

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  • It certainly looks like flames rising from the saucepan, but he doesn't say so, so I wonder if it's a trick of the light. – Chris H Dec 10 '20 at 17:03
  • I'm not certain if it matches the actual definition of 'flambé' but you can easily set fire to wine as you deglaze a pan on any gas hob, if you're not careful. – Tetsujin Dec 10 '20 at 17:15
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    Note that flambeeing doesn't remove alcohol from a liquid any better than simmering it does. – Sneftel Dec 10 '20 at 17:28
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    tbh, I hate video recipes - 7 minutes to find out what you could read in 30 seconds, but I bounced through it to find he recommends 2.5 hours. I'd have given it longer. – Tetsujin Dec 10 '20 at 17:37
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    @Sneftel good point - by the time it can ignite, it's vapour, and going to drift away anyway. The only possible effects are minor ones regarding vapour pressure and convection, and airflow would be a better way of achieving both – Chris H Dec 10 '20 at 17:39
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I am from Burgundy and I have never heard of flambéing the beef bourguignon! But after all why not. It is definitely possible to flambé wine, and it does make the process of "burning" the alcohol faster, and it will give it a stronger taste. Regarding your last beef bourguignon you made, if it was too "alcoholy", how long did you let it cook? Maybe it was not long enough. I see that the chef recommends 2.5 hours, but I have never known anyone cooking a bourguignon so quickly, even with marinated meat, we generally leave it from 3 to 4 hours (you can actually let it cook for a couple of hours, let it rest, and then finish the cooking process later, or the day after). I also depends of course of the type of wine you used, some are stronger than others. Did you use for example a light Pinot noir, or a stronger syrah or cabernet sauvignon ? You can add a pinch of sugar in your sauce to balance the acidity of your wine sauce if you feel that the alcohol hasn't evaporated correctly.

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You can flambé wine when it's hot enough. We use this method for making a red wine reduction sauce (a slow boil for a while until the gas burner ignites the vapors, then continue to reduce). The majority of the alcohol burns off but there will still be a small amount present once the flame dies. After this point, the alcohol taste will not be clearly identifiable.

A long simmer will also reduce the alcohol (since alcohol is lighter than water) but it will also reduce the liquid content as well. It depends on what you are going for in your final product. For a reduced wine sauce (or other type of reduction), it doesn't really matter which method you use. If you are cooking something within (or around) the wine/alcohol, then a quick flambé can be advantageous to avoid the long simmer time - think flambéd ice cream - you can't reduce that while keeping the ice cream in the same state

Once you pot of wine is at a boil, you can simply take a lighter to the top of the pot. Be careful - depending on the rate of boil and the alcohol content of the wine, it will create different sized flames.

Hope this helps!

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    Nothing will reduce the alcohol content without also reducing the liquid content. Flambeing does not have the power to pull alcohol out, only to burn alcohol vapors which have already left the liquid. That leads to some minor heating and further evaporation, which could also be achieved by simmering. – Sneftel Dec 11 '20 at 7:44

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