Wine 201 – Cooking with Wine: Steaming

Sheesh…when it comes to wine, there’s no such thing as a little knowledge. My goal here is to provide the bare minimum of information that one needs in order to adequately swim in the culinary world. But with wine, the bare minimum requires a great deal of reading and writing. I can’t get by with simply two posts and then on to the recipes.

Even something as simple as cooking with wine requires different pieces of knowledge. Steaming with wine requires a different mindset than braising with wine or marinating with wine. For me to write a singular post stating “This is what you need to know how to cook with wine” would be doing a disservice to you, your food and the wine. Okay, that sounds a little too serious, but I think it sounds true.

Yes, yes, there are some general rules of thumb that can work with different cooking techniques. But I’m going to repeat them when appropriate.

So, where to start? Well, last night Tara and I did some mussel steaming with wine, so that’s as good of a place to start as any.

Tips for Steaming with wine:

  • - The better the wine, the better the taste of the food. Conversely, the worse the wine, the worse your food will taste. Choose your cooking wine accordingly
  • - Use freshly opened wine. Wines opened two weeks or later should be looked upon with suspicion, as it probably has oxidized to the point of affecting the wine taste.
  • - Steaming is a delicate cooking process, where the aromatic of a wine affects the taste of the food. The better the bouquet, the more it will affect the taste of the food.
  • - Steaming is typically done to what can best be described as “Delicate” foods. These are foods that have subtle tastes (like some types of seafood, vegetables or even chicken). It’s best to avoide robust and hearty wines. The tastes of the aromatics should support the subtle flavors of the food, rather than overpower it.
  • - When steaming, ensure that the pot has a tightly fitted lid as to prevent the steam and aromatics from escaping in great amounts.
  • - Use a pot that is large in size, to allow a good circulation of steam around the food in order to cook it evenly.
  • - Preferred wines for steaming? Sauvignon, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewürztraminer.

I think this is a good of a start as any. More later to be sure.


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