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Cooking with white wine

One of my customers featured a mussel recipe on a recent email piece. As I formatted the recipe with bullets and colors I was overcome with a craving for seafood in a broth of white wine. The idea of sopping up the garlic and herb infused white wine reduction with some fresh baked bread was irresistible. White wine escalates the flavor of clam, scallop, and mussel broth to gastronomic greatness. A splash makes any sautéed chicken dish elegant with a hint of perfume. I find adding white wine to any dish much easier than adding red. There are recipes that demand a splash of red, such as tomato based sauces and reductions used with red meat, but the flavor of white wine is more subtle flavor than red. When cooking with wine, beer, or spirits, all the alcohol must be evaporated before the dish is served; its flavor can ruin the dish. This is process is often called a reduction. Alcohol boils at a lower temperature than water, therefore adding wine, beer, or spirits to a dish near the end can be enough time to accomplish the evaporation need. Oak flavors are wonderful in our libations, but not in the chicken piccata. Oak can be bitter in a reduction, especially those beverages made with oak chips, beans, or staves. Heavily hopped beer should be avoided too. To deter curdling when making a dairy based sauce, reduce the wine and then slowly add the dairy product. While the alcohol is evaporating you will find the aroma slightly unpleasant; when the odd smell is gone the alcohol will be too. One word of warning, once you discover the pizzazz of adding a splash of sherry or pinot gris to your culinary masterpiece, you wonder how you ever managed with out it.

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