Reduce wine or not?

I watched one season of America's Test Kitchen a while back and they consistently said to reduce wine before adding to a dish, such as a stew, even if they ended up adding aditional water. i think the theory was to remove some of the alcahol before incorporating in dish but this seemed overly fussy and counter most recipes I see both hear and elsewhere. I wonder about opinions on this. Wothwhile effort: always? sometimes? never?

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8 Comments

AntoniaJames January 12, 2015
I recently made the Tuscan Beef Stew on the Cooks Illustrated site, which involves adding wine to the braising liquid, and then adding more wine after removing the beef once it's braised. Utterly delicious, and no cooking down necessary. (I occasionally cook down wine for specific purposes, but never in a soup or a stew.) I do think that adding some (lots) at the beginning and some toward the end is an excellent idea. The recipe I made called for a whole bottle of Chianti for 4 pounds of meat. One of the best beef stews I've ever made. As good as, if not better than, any Beef Burgundy recipe out there. ;o)
 
ChefJune January 12, 2015
Curious why so many posters think it takes a long time to cook the alcohol off? Many recipes call for flambéing it either before adding, or immediately afterwards. That burns off whatever is leaving at once.
 
Susan W. January 12, 2015
Actually, a quick flambe only burns off 25% of the alcohol. It is done more for show and to create a deeper flavor in the other ingredients because of the high flash of heat. Simmering for an hour removes 75% of the alcohol and simmering for two hours removes 90%. When you reduce the alcohol alone without other liquids, it happens much faster.
 
Andigol January 11, 2015
It depends, if you are adding the wine at the end of cooking .. example for finishing a sauce not a bad idea to reduce to get rid of the alcohol but if you are adding to something that has time to cook alcohol off (say a casserole) do not reduce
 
Uncle J. January 9, 2015
Depends on what you are cooking and what effect you want to end up with. If you are reducing the wine a lot, you will need a lot of heat for a long time, but many dishes work best with a long slow simmer, which would be my guess for why ATK does this. When I do this, and I like the taste of wine, I add a splash of fresh wine at the end to brighten up the flavor.
 
Susan W. January 9, 2015
I think it depends. I prefer to reduce wine  first rather than adding it to a recipe. This method works especially well if you are using it to deglaze a pan. I also feel it's a better method to get rid of the alcohol flavor. I actually can't think of a recipe that calls for adding water after reducing the wine, but maybe I need more coffee. Broth, stock or tomatoes yes.
 
ChefJune January 9, 2015
I think that's overly fussy. Either way, the alcohol will only reduce so much. All of it will never be gone. The liquid will reduce while whatever it is simmers. Have you ever made risotto? The wine is the first addition you make to the rice in the pan, and reduce it until it is gone. The flavor and a bit of alcohol remain.
 
Monita January 9, 2015
It really depends on the recipe/how much wine. You want the wine flavor. but if it's too much then the alcohol does overpower. One approach is to pour in 1/2 the wine and reduce while scraping bottom of pan if it was used for browning meat or sauteing other ingredients. Then add a bit more wine, that;s not reduced, for flavoring. That's what I do for a beef stew
 
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