How to Cook With Wine

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How to Cook With Wine

If you’re a big fan of wine, you most likely already know what your favourite wine to drink is for all occasions.  But do you know which wine to use for cooking in different types of dishes? The answer is probably no, as the options are endless. Here are some guidelines to help you pick.

First things first! Are you making a dish with Red or White wine? Whichever one you choose will make a big difference to what type of dish you’re going to end up with. Rich and wintery dishes, like an Ox-tail stew, a beef bourguignon or a cheeky-spag-bol will need a generous pour of a deep red wine.

Lighter dishes like creamy-risotto, seafood pasta or chicken in a garlic sauce will need a splash of white wine.

Whatever you go with, cooking with wine will certainly add lots more flavour to your dish. The acidity in wine tenderises the meat, and helps to keep the moisture in the dish. It will bring your dish alive and enhance all the natural flavours… but the wrong style, or a cheap one, could have the potential to wreck a beautiful dish.

The Golden Rules

  1. Never cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink! Too many people make the mistake of using an old or cheap wine to cook with. But actually, the flavour of the wine has just as much as importance if you cooking with it. Bitter or sour flavours will only add those flavours to your dish. You don’t need a very expensive wine, but you certainly need one of good quality.
  2. Avoid using cooking wine (for much the same reasons as shown in the first point) but also, these have been made with a very cheap base of wine and then had loads of salt and colouring added to compensate.
  3. Make sure you take the time to ‘cook off’ the alcohol… it needs time to simmer with the other ingredients otherwise it could be quite bitter.
  4. Try to use the type of wine you’d serve with the dinner, to use in the cooking process.

Ready to give it a try? Why not try out these 2 recipes

Cooking With Red Wine

Oxtail Stew with Red Wine and Herbs

  • 1.5kg oxtail pieces
  • 30ml tbsp oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 packet Knorr Hearty Beef Stew with Rosemary Dry Cook-in-Sauce
  • 100ml red wine
  • 30ml plain flour
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 410g tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 400ml cup water
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves


  1. Coat the oxtail in flour. Heat half the oil in a pan and brown the oxtail. Set aside.
  2. Heat the rest of the oil in the same pan.
  3. Sauté the onion and garlic. Put the oxtail back in the pan and add the tinned tomatoes, Knorr Hearty Beef Stew with Rosemary Dry Cook-in-Sauce, wine, thyme, bay leaves and water.
  4. Leave to simmer until oxtail is tender (2-3 hours).
  5. Serve with creamy mashed potatoes.

Cooking with White Wine

Play-it Safe Risotto

  • 1L stock (chicken, fish or veg)
  • 1 small knob of butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion , finely chopped
  • 2cloves garlic , finely chopped
  • ½ head celery , finely chopped
  • 400 g risotto rice
  • 2 wineglasses dry white wine (such as sauvignon blanc)
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 knob of butter
  • 90g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated


  1. Heat the stock. In a separate pan, heat the olive oil and butter, add the onions, garlic and celery, and fry very slowly for about 15 minutes without colouring. When the vegetables have softened, add the rice and turn up the heat.
  2. The rice will now begin to lightly fry, so keep stirring it. After a minute it will look slightly translucent. Add the wine and keep stirring — it will smell fantastic. Any harsh alcohol flavours will evaporate and leave the rice with a tasty essence.
  3. Once the wine has cooked into the rice, add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt. Turn down the heat to a simmer so the rice doesn’t cook too quickly on the outside. Keep adding ladleful’s of stock, stirring and almost massaging the creamy starch out of the rice, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. This will take around 15 minutes. Taste the rice — is it cooked? Carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite. Don’t forget to check the seasoning carefully. If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked, add some boiling water.
  4. Remove from the heat and add the butter and Parmesan. Stir well. Place a lid on the pan and allow to sit for 2 minutes. This is the most important part of making the perfect risotto, as this is when it becomes outrageously creamy and oozy like it should be. Eat it as soon as possible, while the risotto retains its beautiful texture.
  5. If you want to make it even more delicious, throw in a few prawns.

Happy Cooking!

Every Thursday, Norman Goodfellows has amazingly good deals on wine in our Thirsty-Thursdays promotions. So why don’t you buy the wine you need to cook with this Thursday?

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