“If you do not have a a good wine to use, it is far better to omit it, for a poor one can spoil a good dish and utterly debase a noble one.” Julia Child
My good friend, Rebecca, is a wine savant. She’s one of those types who can sniff a glass and tell you the mineral content of the soil used to produce the grapes. She is always my go-to person when I need a wine to complement a particular dish.
I was discussing this pork, pear and German-style mustard recipe idea with her which sounded really tasty for this time of year. She suggested I use a good Riesling to cook and serve with the dish. She said the Riesling would be an appropriate counterpoint to the German mustard in the dish. “The wines and foods of a country just go together,” she noted.
“Many people assume Riesling’s are syrupy sweet. Actually a good Riesling is complex with hints of almond, honey and spice. It can be challenging, for instance, pairing hot and spicy dishes with wine but Rieslings are the perfect foil,” says Rebecca.
One tight truism is to use wines in your cooking that you would enjoy drinking. Would you decant those little bottles of “cooking wine” found in your grocer’s spice aisles and serve them to your guests? Don’t think so? Then, likewise, don’t cook with them. If you do not like the taste of a wine, you will not like the dish you choose to use it in. There are some great and delicious bargain wines to be had these days. For the same price as a “cooking wine”, you can select a wine that would be delicious to cook with as well as to enjoy with the meal.
I’ll share one of the best tips Rebecca ever gave me: Freeze leftover wine for cooking. Do you have a big red that must be consumed that evening? Not necessarily. Freeze that last 1/2 cup and use it next week’s Coq au Vin. Certainly freezing wine inhibits the wine’s complexity but it is wonderful to thaw and cook with.