Getting through self-isolation with wine!

Why not experiment with wines and food during self-isolation?

Why not experiment with wines and food during self-isolation? - Credit: Archant

With time on our hands due to the restrictions placed on us by Covid-19 it’s time to find new pleasures or to develop our skills to fruitfully spend our time.

Enjoying and matching food and wine has always been a pleasurable hobby of mine and easy one to develop.

Independent wine merchants are now deemed to be essential businesses and thus still trading online though most have closed their doors to customers except on a click and collect basis for pre-paid orders. We’re always happy to help our customers choose wines to match their expectations – it doesn’t have to break the bank either – there are many good value wines to choose.

It’s important to remember that cooking with wine is a great way to use up bottles of wine but not to get rid of unwanted poor quality ones as the flavours are directly transferred to the food, sp off flavours

become much more noticeable once heated.

There are a few rules of thumb for cooking with wine based on basic chemistry and common sense. For dishes with milk, cream, eggs and butter it is better to add the wine first to prevent curdling and when

adding wine as a main ingredient in a sauce it is best to add it at the start so the alcohol evaporates over time and a subtle taste from the wine is developed.

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As you can imagine creamy sauces will require a soft rounded style of wine such as a New World unoaked Chardonnay whose pure fruit flavour will enhance those of the sauce as would a similar wine from the South of France such as the les Volets Chardonnay.

Fortified wines should be added at the end of the recipe such as when adding a dash of sherry to soup; try a palo cortado which in style terms is half way between dry and medium sherry in spinach or courgette soup or a dry Oloroso richer style in a vegetable broth.

Marinating meat in wine before cooking will tenderise and add flavour to meat and fish. Try leaving braising steak in a New World Cabernet or Carmenere such as a Chilean Los Tres Curas Carmenere or the Rolleston Vale Shiraz Cabernet from Australia at the same price for a few hours before casseroling with a little more of the same wine. Matching a wine to drink with it is then very easy as the same wine will be a perfect complement or another more expensive version such as the Pugilist Cabernet or a Chilean Merlot.

There are some obvious wines to use in Italian dishes as that country’s wines are a great match for dishes using tomatoes and garlic as the native grape varieties use din Chianti such as the Sangiovese or the Nero d’Avola in Sicily have much fruit and fresh acidity to easily complement the tomatoes and garlic in many dishes so you could add a Barbera or a Nero d’Avola to enhance and support the flavours.

In chicken dishes where wine is a key ingredient in a marinade forming the basis of a sauce then a white wine of your choice with fresh but not concentrated flavours will be ideal. Try a Touraine Sauvignon from the Loire Valley or a traditional Italian Pecorino or Sicilian Catarratto with light lemony overtones.

Shiraz or Grenache based red wine sauces are great robustly flavoured red wines to add to casseroles though if you want to be traditional then a French Pinot Noir is the wine for Boeuf Bourguignon.

However, the wine for cooking doesn’t have to break the bank – try a Pinot Noir from the South of France, it’s great to drink with it too. If it’s a special meal then a wine from the same grape from Burgundy such as the Latour Mercurey or New Zealand such as the Escarpment Pinot Noir from Martinborough will be a treat!

Bon appetit!