Can you cook with alcohol-free wine?
Are you trying to lower your alcohol consumption? Does the idea of cooking without wine fill you with dread? We take a look at the age-old question, can you cook with alcohol-free wine? If it's not putting wine into the food that worries you but enjoying a tipple while you cook, we can help with that as well. We take a look at some of the best luxury non-alcoholic wines available. Whether you choose to pour them into your food or savour every sip is up to you.
Can you cook with alcohol-free wine?
The short answer is yes. Wine is often described as adding depth to a dish. I would agree with that sentiment, since wine really does accentuate the flavour of your dish as well as bringing on taste sensations of its own. Luckily, you don't have to miss out on that certain something if you'd rather avoid alcohol.
What you have to remember about cooking with non-alcoholic wine is that the luxury varieties retain all the qualities of their alcoholic counterparts. They are equally tasty, with a flavour profile that is close to identical. However, they have already been de-alcoholised. As you are probably aware, when cooking, much of the alcohol in wine evaporates due to the heat. Therefore, using alcohol-free wine opens up new possibilities.
Avoid adding your non-alcoholic wine too early or using temperatures that are too high. In doing so, you would risk losing too much of the liquid and that delicious flavour. If you stick to that simple rule, your dish will be as tasty as you would expect when adding a good-quality standard wine.
What is a non-alcoholic substitute for cooking wine?
If you are in possession of a delicious bottle of luxury alcohol-free wine, you would be forgiven for being a little reluctant to slosh it into your crockpot. Of course, the sensible solution would be to stock up on a few bottles so you can both drink it and cook with it. But if you find yourself with a solitary carafe to hand, our top tip is to keep it for your glass. Here are a few non-alcoholic substitutes for cooking wine:
Alcohol-free replacement for white wine in cooking
- White wine vinegar: You may be surprised that in most recipes, white wine vinegar can replace white wine. Unsurprisingly, vinegar is more acidic. So, dilute it with one part vinegar to one part water and use that mixture in the same volume as your recipe recommends wine.
- Stock: As noted above, the purpose of adding wine to food is to bring extra depth of flavour. This can also be achieved with stock. When it comes to dishes that would usually contain white wine, you're going to want to go for either vegetable or chicken stock. Beef stock would be too rich and likely take on an unpleasant flavour in a light dish.
- White grape or apple juice: This is very sweet, so add a little at a time. You may not want to use as large a volume as you would if using wine, so consider adding one-part grape or apple juice to one-part stock.
- Diluted lemon juice: Use equal parts lemon juice and water. Add to taste rather than following the volume guide for white wine. The volume can be made up in stock.
Alcohol-free replacement for red wine in cooking
- Red wine vinegar: As with its white counterpart, red wine vinegar can be used instead of red wine. Remember to dilute it with one part vinegar to one part water and use that mixture in the same volume as your recipe recommends red wine.
- Stock: Vegetable, chicken and beef stock can all be used to mimic the depth of flavour red wine can bring to a dish. If you're using vegetable stock and looking for something a little richer, try adding the juice of some sautéed mushrooms.
- Mushrooms: This may seem like an odd one, since they are not liquid. However, frying or sautéing mushrooms with a little salt releases a rich flavour. Their juice will add a degree of depth to your dish, but for the full impact, add the mushrooms themselves too.
- Red grape, cranberry or pomegranate juice: These red liquids all boast deep fruit flavours that will capture a little of the depth you lack without wine. However, they are also extremely sweet so use with caution, adding a little at a time to taste. Make up the rest of the liquid volume with stock.
Can off wine be used for cooking?
So, you've got some wine left in the bottom of the bottle from a week ago and it needs using up. Is it ok to just pour it liberally into your dinner? Not quite.
If a wine is corked or has gone off due to sitting around for too long, it will develop an unpleasant taste. Unfortunately, cooking the wine won't get rid of that taste, so you're going to ruin your dish. So, be sensible. Give it the sniff test. If it smells ok, pour a little into a glass and try it. If it tastes off, throw it away. Wasting wine is upsetting, but wasting a whole meal will be worse.
The same principle applies whether you are using red, white or rosé, alcoholic, alcohol-free or dealcoholized.
Best non-alcoholic wine
Whether you intend to cook with alcohol-free wine or simply sip a glass while you relax, you're going to want to make sure that it's delicious. So, let's get the elephant in the room out of the way here and now. Yes, some non-alcoholic wine is below par. However, if you've tried wine without alcohol and decided it's not for you, it's time to think again. To find something truly delicious, you're going to need to look at the luxury end of the market. Take Thomson & Scott's Noughty wine selection for example.
Thomson & Scott Noughty Organic Vegan Alcohol-Free Sparkling Chardonnay
This sparkling Chardonnay can be used in place of white wine when cooking. However, don't be too hasty to pour it into your dish. Make sure you save some for your glass! Dealcoholisation of this delicious Chardonnay has removed none of its rich flavour. Having just 14 calories per glass and 2.9g sugar per 100ml, it's the healthy option as well as the best way to avoid a hangover.
Thomson & Scott Noughty Organic Vegan Alcohol-Free Sparkling Rosé
Like its white counterpart, this sparkling rosé has all of the flavour and none of the alcohol. If, like me, you love a glass of rosé with a curry but end up regretting it the next day, this is the answer. You will never know the alcohol is missing when you're drinking it. Wake up the next morning and it's a different story. You will be ready to get on with your day with a clear head.
Thomson & Scott Noughty Alcohol-Free Rouge
We are often asked whether there is really a viable alcohol-free alternative to red wine. Meet Noughty Alcohol-Free Rouge. This one has been dealcoholized to less than 0.5% ABV but the full, rich flavour of such a beautifully crafted bottle has been retained. A deep, ruby red wine with hints of ripe red fruit, crushed black pepper, dried rose petal and candied cherries integrated with French oak tannins. You're not going to miss the alcohol at all.