Her 20+ years at Food & Wine have taught Test Kitchen Supervisor Marcia Kiesel exactly how to cook with wine. Here, she shares her best tips:
1. Dilute wine marinades and braises
"I love wine-based stews, but I think they need to be cut with chicken or beef stock; otherwise, they're too astringent. I prefer to use a ratio of half or one-third wine to stock. If I'm braising an exceptionally flavorful cut of meat for several hours, like lamb shanks, I have no problem adding water instead of stock. When marinating meat, I never use straight wineagain, it's just too harsh. For marinades, I cut the wine with oil."
2. Save nice wines for drinking
"Some people say that it's best to cook with the wine you're drinking. That's fine if it's an everyday $10 bottle, but not if it's something much more expensive. For the most part, wine's nuances are killed by heat, so I usually cook with an inexpensive dry white or red, even if I plan to drink a nicer bottle. If a recipe calls for a wine that's more expensive, like a Châteauneuf-du-Pape, I downgrade to a similar but less complex wine, like a Côtes-du-Rhône."