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Once I was in an italian restaurant where you could see the chefs cooking. My friend ordered a a pasta whose sauce was made of vegetables red meat and white wine. As far as I could remember he cooked the vegetables and meat in a wok pot and then basically "deglaze" the pot with no more than what I would assume a half cup of white wine then I think he added paste and mixed altogether. In the end it tasted very aromatic as if he boiled away the alcohol from a whole bottle of wine and added the remaining grape essence to the pasta.

I tried the same process I cooked the vegetables, occasionally adding a spoon of white wine then added meat and whenever the pot was hot enough to boil a spoon of wine instantaneously I added a spoonful of wine again. I preferred this method because I did not have a wok pot and strong enough fire. In the end I ended up using a cup of white wine which gave little to no taste to the food at all.

So what am I doing wrong, is it the choice of wine that makes the dish very aromatic or choice of cooking method?

Update: After alot of tries I have seen that Moscato wine gives the most flavor to the food as the wine itself is very aromatic and sweet. For two portions of food I use one glass of it and a spoon of balsamic vinegar to balance the sweetness. In spanish dishes it is also used for bean and meat stews which I have also seen to be very nice.

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    It's possible that he could have been using wine that had already been reduced to some extent. – SourDoh Jan 23 '14 at 20:37
  • What wine did you use? – Mien Mar 12 '14 at 14:33
  • adding 1 spoon at a time will do nothing, you need to have enough wine to let other ingredients be infused by it while cooking down. – Max Mar 13 '14 at 17:44
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There are several things that come together to produce the overall flavor profile of the dish, not all of them having anything to do with the wine. Traditional factors such as good spicing, blooming the spices, browning ingredients and so forth continue to have a huge affect.

Deglazing with some wine adds the following:

  • Acidity. Wine is an acid food product, and this brightness can enhance the overall flavor of the dish.
  • Sweetness. Wine can also be sweet, which acts as a flavor enhancer.
  • Fruitiness. The fruity qualities of the wine may compliment the other flavors of the dish.
  • Alcohol. The alcohol in the wine will not completely evaporate. Some will remain, helping to dissolve and make volatile some flavor components which are ot soluble in either water or fats (this is especially true in tomato based dishes). This can give foods cooked with alcohol an extra depth of flavor.

The first and last of these affects probably have the most profound affect on your dish.


Adding the wine in dribs and drabs probably doesn't help, but in the end you need to use enough wine to have a good effect on your dish. Even though it will be reduced, it is still an ingredient, and you need to have enough to matter.

I do suggest adding it all at once, and letting it boil away; this should work quite well.

The quality of wine you use also matters. You want a wine that tastes decent, even as a beverage. My personal preference for cooking is a Chardonnay, but I don't think that preference is universal.

  • I also used Chardonnay, I will try adding all at once as you suggested however I have some questions. For a "two portions" dish how much wine should be added, is one glass enough? And also should I add it before in the middle or after everything is cooked? If it helps dissolve some aromatic compounds I guess in the middle would be good? Instead of simmering in high heat also is low heat slow cooking better (say 1 hour?). thanks – Sina Jan 23 '14 at 20:24
  • There is a lot of flexibility to when you add it... it depends somewhat on the nature of the specific dish. I use it mostly in amatrcianna sauce, where I add it right after the tomato product, and let it reduce with the whole sauce. Different sauces have different methods. – SAJ14SAJ Jan 23 '14 at 20:51
  • how much do you usually cook after adding the wine? – Sina Jan 23 '14 at 21:14
  • Again, it depends critically on the dish. In a very traditional bolognese, you might start by reducing wine to a syrup; in my amatriciana sauce, the whole things is done in 20-30 minutes so I don't cook it more than a minute or two before adding the wine. – SAJ14SAJ Jan 23 '14 at 21:19
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    Another thing to remember - the idea behind "deglazing" is that you have some "glaze" on the pan to remove. When sauteing with high heat you should get browned, caramelized bits on the bottom of the pan due to the Maillard reaction. You are using the alcohol to release those tasty bits from the pan and into the liquid (and thus onto your food) to increase flavor. If you aren't getting similar caramelization, then you won't be getting similar flavor. – djmadscribbler Jan 23 '14 at 21:56
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As you alluded to in your question, both the type and the quality of the wine will affect how your food ends up tasting. When selecting a wine to cook with, you should still use the rules for pairing as you would when selecting a wine to drink with. You should avoid "cooking wines" as these are very poor quality and usually end up being more expensive (ounce to ounce) than just buying a bottle that you could also drink with your dinner, or even over a couple dinners.

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I keep a bottle of white vermouth for cooking savory dishes. It is a reliable dry wine with herbal tastes. I regard it as an ingredient rather than a wine or beverage.

It avoids the risk of getting a wine which is too sweet or too thin tasting.

It also comes with a screw top and lasts a long time on the kitchen counter.

  • I think this is part of an answer, but it could be a lot better - there's a lot more to the question than just "what's your favorite kind of wine for cooking?" – Cascabel Apr 5 '15 at 16:37
  • The question asked :So what am I doing wrong, is it the choice of wine that makes the dish very aromatic or choice of cooking method?" I answered with a suggestion about which wine to use. I have made no answer about the technique. – piquet Apr 7 '15 at 2:54
  • So we agree: you haven't addressed part of the question. I think it's also a pretty important part; swapping out a random white wine for vermouth might help (if vermouth is more the flavor you want) but it won't work miracles. Like I said, part of an answer, but could be better. – Cascabel Apr 7 '15 at 4:42

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