Cooking with Wine
Chefs who successfully cook with wine stick to a simple philosophy. “Cook with a wine you want to drink. If you don’t like the way it tastes, why would you put it in a recipe?” says Chef John Sarich, Culinary Director of Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville, WA.
A second rule is to always cook with the wine that will be served alongside the dish. For instance, Chef Sarich advises to use a rich Merlot or big Cabernet when preparing a braising liquid for lamb shanks, and drink the same wine with the finished dish.
Once chefs have selected a dish and a wine, they often play up the wine’s specific flavors by adding ingredients that match them. If a wine is jammy, for example, Chef Sarich might slip a spoonful of jam into his wine-based sauce; if he’s cooking with a Cabernet with subtle coffee notes, he might add a pinch of espresso powder to heighten that desirable flavor in the finished dish.
Lastly, Chef Sarich always adds wine in the early steps of a recipe, to cook out the alcohol and to encourage a soft, not boozy, flavor. If a dish needs additional liquid during the cooking process, he adds stock or water. If you add wine later, he
says, “instead of having the subtle flavors of cooked wine in the dish, you will get the taste of wine in a glass, which is not what you want.”
By Ashley Gartland and Lizzy Caston
Photos by David Lanthan Reamer
Try our recipe for Grilled Sirloin Steak with Blackberry Cabernet Sauce. Courtesy of Chef John Sarich, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Woodinville, WA.