5 Rules for Cooking with Wine

May 28, 2010 § 1 Comment

I read a sign the other day that made me laugh out loud. It said,

“I love cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.”

I laughed because it’s true.

Because even though I consider myself a decent cook, there are only a handful of dishes I know how to make with wine (which must be why I drink it 🙂 ). And those dishes I only know about because I watched my mom and Gram make them for years.

So I set out on a mission to learn a few cooking-with-wine basics I could share with you (and myself) today.

And here they are: 5 rules of thumb when cooking with wine:

1. Never cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink by the glass.

The alcohol in wine burns off when you heat it, but the basic flavors don’t. That said, you don’t need to spend big bucks to create bold flavor. Wine is just one of the many “seasonings” you’ll put into your dish. So don’t go off the deep end and spend $100 on a wine you’re going to dump in a casserole.

2. The amount of alcohol that burns off depends how long and at what temperature you cook it.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking: “duh.” But, this is one I learned the hard way. Sauteing a spicy stir-fry in a sweet white wine like the ’09 Sunset White will burn off all the alcohol, but putting wine, instead of water, in a rice cooker will not. You’ll end up eating alcohol by the fork-full. (Trust me; I know from experience.)

Side note: You CAN cook boil-in-a-bag rice in 2 parts chicken stock and 1 part wine (red or white depending on what you’re serving it with) to spice up plain white rice.

3. Choose the wine you cook with in the same way you’d pair a glass with a finished dish.

So for example, you should marinate your steak in dry red wine, like our ’08 Benevino Cab Franc and saute your scallops in a buttery white, like our ’08 Reserve Chardonnay. And the best way to bring our the flavors in your dish? Serve the wine you cooked with at dinner.

4. In general, don’t add wine right before serving; it will overpower your dish.

You should add wine earlier in the cooking process so you have time to mellow the bite. I have, however, found one exception to this rule: before serving risotto, make a well and pour in about a tablespoon of a dry but fruity red wine (like our ’08 Sunset Red), serve and let your guests mix it in. It makes for pretty presentation and adds a kick of flavor.

5. Wine adds acidity.

Next time you try your dish and think it’s “missing something,” think twice before you reach for the salt. More often than not, what you really need is acidity to balance out the dish. And a wine like our ’08 Unoaked Chardonnay will do just the trick.

And the best advice of all?

Experiment and have fun.

Happy cooking!


Frost Update: A Narrow Escape

May 14, 2010 § Leave a comment

The temperatures that dropped to near freezing earlier this week had us shivering.

No, not from the cold. But from the fear of frost damage to our tender vines.

Luckily, we made a narrow escape.

Only a few of our young non fruit-yielding vines in Vineyard 3 were affected. Which means we didn’t lose any of this year’s crops. This is due mostly to the strategic placement of Vineyard 3, and with just a little extra pruning, our vines should make a full recovery.

Part of the reason we were so fortunate was because of our strategic vineyard site selection, which you can read about here.

Some of our fellow Loudoun County wineries were not as fortunate, however, and we extend our deepest regrets to those who felt the frost.


2010 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition Results

May 10, 2010 § Leave a comment

Just a few days ago the results were announced for the 2010 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition.  We were very excited to see two of our newest wines on the list.

DOUBLE GOLD Sunset Hills Vineyard 2009 Viognier

SILVER Sunset Hills Vineyard 2009 Nettare

Other big winners from Virginia were: Jefferson Vineyards, Keswick Vineyards, Rappahanock Cellars, Sweeley Estate Winery, Barrel Oak Winery, Fox Meadow Winery, and Horton Vineyards.  To see all the awards won click here.

Great job from some wonderful Virginia wineries!  I look forward to trying all these wines.


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