Classic ways to cook with wine

Some of us cook with wine all the time. Others start thinking about it in the cooler months, if at all. I fall into the former category.

Recently, I explored recommendations from chefs, accomplished home cooks, bloggers and cookbook authors to see if their take on the topic intersects with mine. In some cases, it does; in others, not at all.

All agree that we shouldn't cook with a wine we find unpleasant to drink, which eliminates all those "cooking wines" you see in supermarkets.

What we don't agree on is how to choose a wine for a specific dish. Most use color as a rule, pairing seafood, chicken and most vegetables with white wine and meats with red wine. But sometimes seafood is delicious cooked in red wine or finished with a red-wine-based sauce. And if you want the subtle flavors of red meat to shine, your best choice for, say, braising may be a white wine.

Some cooks also recommend using the same wine in the recipe as the one you will drink with the meal, which I don't find so important. Most subtleties of aroma and flavor vanish during lengthy cooking and it can be a waste to use a great wine, especially a pricey one, in cooking. Instead, choose a less expensive wine that is similar in body.

Today's recipes demonstrate two classic ways to use wine in cooking. For more recipes that feature wine as a significant component, visit Seasonal Pantry's blog, Eat This Now, at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.

Beurre blanc is one of the world's mother sauces, a simple emulsion of butter suspended in a small amount of acidic liquid that forms the foundation of many other sauces. It is not at all difficult to make but you must be certain to keep the heat low — no higher than 130 degrees — or the emulsion will break down.

Classic Beurre Blanc, with Variations

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