So you popped the cork on too many bottles this holiday season (who didn't?) -- here's what to do with all that wine when it's no longer good enough to drink.
Image Credit: James Ransom
Baking with Wine
In the Montalcino hill town of Tuscany, I came across the opportunity to bake with wine. White wine, even, in an area that’s famous for its Brunello red wine. The recipe is called Taralli al Vino Blanco, or Tarallo with white wine, and it’s a type of cookie that traditionally comes from Puglia and other southern Italian regions. This is a recipe that embraces the light, aromatic characteristics of white wine.
Any leftovers from a bottle of good-quality wine would work in the recipe, though. These cookies have a distinctive oval shape, and recipes vary from sweet to savory. This version leans slightly sweet, and the cookies are especially good with a glass of Il Poggione Vin Santo after dinner. And for breakfast or a snack the next day!
To braise is to simmer in a little bit of liquid. Do as the northern Italians do with any fatty meat, and add a small glass of Merlot-based grappa throughout the cooking time; try Nonino Il Merlot for a very distinct, very savory bolt of flavor. Or, braise in what you’re drinking for dinner that night.
Image Credit: James Ransom
Annalisa Franco, who operates Villa Barberina in the Prosecco hills of northern Italy, always has a bottle of her family's Nino Franco Prosecco close at hand. One of her favorite uses for it is in risotto that she makes at home. After the onions have browned, she adds water and simmers it down for 15 to 20 minutes. Then she adds the rice, followed by Prosecco and leaves it for five minutes to absorb. Only then does she add stock and continue with the cooking. Another tip? To keep it light, Annalisa uses milk to finish, instead of butter or cream.
White wine goes with seafood -- like these Drunken Clams with Sausage -- so says the general rule of thumb. But there are plenty of opportunities to break that rule, too, like when the recipe involves hearty flavors like olives and capers. In situations like that, experiment with a versatile medium-bodied red wine such as Kim Crawford Pinot Noir from New Zealand's South Island.
It has become a minor obsession when I travel to ask home cooks how they use wine in the kitchen. Fortunately, my questions have mostly been answered in the form of a dish set in front of me.
Pour an entire bottle of sparkling wine into the roasting pan for each chicken, was the somewhat boozy answer from the Champagne region of France. Add wine to risotto, was the similarly enthusiastic answer from the Prosecco region of northern Italy. Baste gamey meats with red wine, I heard there, too. Douse ice cream with a splash of grappa, I heard (and tasted) in Friuli. (Interested in those recipes? Just say the word in the comments section below!)
Yes. Yes. And, um, yes. Check out the slideshow above for some more ways to make your wine do double duty.