Chef Wendy

Cooking With Wine, And How To Substitute

When I was working overseas, adding wine to food during the cooking or marinating process was common practice. 
Whether we were roasting quail, marinating rabbit or making a country-style French chicken or beef stew, the bottle of wine was easyily within reach and a good splash of red or white was unquestionable. Upon returning to home shores, I realised that cooking with wine was the exception rather than the rule, and wine is only used if specifically mentioned in the recipe or dish name, except of course in risotto.

Cooking with wine is a great way to subtly enhance the flavour of your food and even though adding wine to your dishes won’t make you tipsy, as alcohol would have simmered or evaporated away. But at Whatsfordinner we understand that many of our fans would like to omit the wine from the recipe for a number of reasons but are unsure how to substitute. 

The first step would be to look at the recipe in its entirety and decide what the purpose of the wine in the dish is and what it will bring to the recipe – is it being used to deglaze a pan and make a gravy? Is it being used to tenderise and marinade meat or is adding a particular depth of flavour or sweetness?
Often, when making a pan-sauce the recipe will call for you to deglaze the pan with either red or white wine – this combination of the added liquid and the bits of cooked meat that are stuck on the pan and get scraped off are a quick way to make a sauce, hence the name “pan sauce”. In this instance, I would substitute wine with either a beef or chicken stock of equal quantity to the wine. If the recipe calls for red wine to be used you can substitute with beef stock, and if the recipe calls for white wine then substitute with chicken stock. Avoid using any acidic substitute as you would not want your sauce to end up with a sour taste. Use either a Knorr Chicken or Beef Stock Pot to quickly and easily make up your stock – simply add one stock pot to 800ml of boiling water and stir until dissolved.

If you are making a tomato based pasta sauce or bolognaise sauce, a traditional recipe will call for a good splash of red wine. But, no need to panic, in this instance you can simply use an equal amount of water and add some extra concentrated tomato paste to boost the flavour and colour. In a recipe like that red wine would add a little acidity to the dish as well as fruitiness and flavour – you can simply ‘not add it in’ as it would be hardly noticeable in a well seasoned dish. Another option is to substitute with verjuice which is an un-fermented grape juice, however it is quite pricey and often difficult to find in the shops. 
When it comes to using wine in savoury dishes, its function is usually to impart a unique taste to the dish – the best example would be risotto. The acidity of the wine in the risotto provides the rich, creamy, buttery taste of the risotto and brings about a balance of flavour. However, if you wish you can simply omit the wine and add a little extra vegetable stock and your recipe will turn out 100% too.

And then, of course, what about a hearty slow-cooked winter dish such as lamb shanks? My tip here would be to substitute with a beef stock made using a Knorr Beef Stock Pot and then towards the end of cooking, adding a little dash of lemon juice for acidity and a dash of soy sauce for depth of flavour.
People are often afraid to substitute ingredients when cooking – the key is to taste your dish every step of the way and record any adjustments you have made on your recipe. Within no time you would have perfected it, and will end up with a flavour that is very close, if not the same as if you had added wine.  Why notice practice your substituting skills with one of these easy recipes –