We all love wine, maybe not every kind, but everyone has their favorites. You drink wine with brunch, lunch, and dinner! But do you cook with it?
Cooking with wine is a great way to spice up your kitchen skills (and it doesn’t hurt to pour yourself a glass while you’re cooking). But is it healthy? Do you still get the antioxidants from the wine? When do you use red or white?
Let’s talk about the basics of cooking with wine, and talk a little wine health too.
The antioxidants in red wine are called polyphenols. These polyphenols have been shown to prevent degenerative diseases, such as heart disease. Thanks to these properties, we know that wine can be part of a healthy diet. Resveratrol is one of the more studied polyphenols found in red wine, and most likely you have heard about it somewhere….
Resveratrol improves heart health by lowering LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff) and prevents blood clot formation. LDL cholesterol is the culprit of plaque buildup in the arteries and eventually could result in heart disease.
Resveratrol has other benefits beyond the heart. These benefits may be the result of resveratrol’s ability to cross the blood-brain barrier. With this unique ability, resveratrol has shown the ability to increase cerebral blood flow.
Studies have yet to prove improved cognitive function with the administration of resveratrol supplementation, but future research will help better understand the brain benefits of this awesome antioxidant. While you won’t find yourself cooking with champagne, it’s also important to note that the antioxidant properties aren’t exclusive to red wine. Just because champagne isn’t red, doesn’t mean it doesn’t also have some of the same heart-healthy benefits (red wine grapes are most commonly used to make champagne). The polyphenols in these grapes have been shown to remove nitric oxide from the blood, thus improving blood pressure and overall circulation
But if you cook with the wine, does it lose the antioxidants?
We know that we lose many of the nutrients in our vegetables when we cook them, so we can assume that we lose the antioxidants in red wine when we heat is right? Wrong. According to one study published in 2011, when wine is heated to make mulled wine (or did not reach temperatures higher than 257 fahrenheit), the wine was still effective at lowering blood pressure. This may not be true for all wines and all recipes, but it is still possible to get the benefits of wine by just cooking with it.
I will go ahead and keep supplementing with wine in my glass too…
Which wines go with what?
Since you now know that you can still get the health benefits of wine, even when cooked with, let’s talk about how to use the different wines!
Dry Red and White Wines
Dishes: beef stews, cream soups, mussels, clams and wine-based sauces
You want to use a dry red wine when you are making a reduction or working with something meaty (preferably red meat). Dry white wines can be used in cream sauces and deglazing a pan to be added to a sauce.
Dry red wines: cabernets, merlots, malbec
Dry white wines: pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc, unoaked chardonnay
Sweet White Wine
Dishes: Great for deserts and for light, sweet sauces for flakey fish
These wines are very very flavorful and highly acidic, making it an easy flavorful addition to a dessert. You can make a fruit compote or just lighten up a butter sauce.
Sweet White Wines: moscato, riesling
Sweet Red Wine
Dishes: chocolatey desserts and sweet sauces for rich meats and cheeses.
Sweet red wines are not as commonly used in cooking like its other wine counterparts due to its heavy, rich flavors and strong sweetness. But this doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Sweet reds can be used to make delicious dessert sauces, rich marinades for meats, or steam some shellfish.
Sweet Red Wines: Ports (ruby is a common one), sherry, madeira, marsala
Rice Wine (Sake)
Dishes: Not great for a stir fry, but better for simmer-type dishes. Great for glazes, marinades, and other sauces.
While this isn’t your typical wine you think of when we talk about cooking with wine, cooking with sake definitely has some benefits.
Like grape-based wines, sake has many health benefits. Daily sake drinkers have been found to have a lower cancer risk than non-sake drinkers. This finding has been linked to the amino acid content of sake. Sake contains 9 different peptides shown to inhibit some of the enzymes shown to cause high blood pressure when in high concentrations.
Unlike other alcohols, sake has a moisturizing effect that is most likely due to its protein and vitamin/mineral content. And lastly, the ferulic acid content found in sake has been shown to absorb UV light, preventing the premature aging of skin.
Rice Wines: Sake (dry), Mirin (sweet), Shao hsing (drier than sake)
You ready to get cooking?
You don’t have to be a wine expert to enjoy the flavor and benefits of wine. But how can you make healthier dishes utilizing wine?
Here are some easy swaps to make a meal both healthier and more delicious thanks to wine:
- Instead of sautéing veggies in all that butter or oil, you can sauté them in less oil plus some wine for flavor and moisture (for steaming).
- Cut your oil by replacing half of it with wine (i.e. ¼ cup oil and ¼ wine instead of ½ cup oil). This not only cuts the fat but add more flavor!
- Use white or dessert wine in a cake to replace some of the oil. This is healthier as well as makes you seem very sophisticated!
- Worried you are going to dry out your meat (you chose a leaner meat to be healthier)? Wine can be added to the pan to help seal in the juices of your lean ground turkey or chicken breasts.
Author Bio: Kaitlin Cushman has her Master’s Degree in Nutrition and is the co-founder of Nutrition Gone Wild: realistic nutrition advice for finding the balance between eating healthy and living happy.