Cooking with Wine

I have found that wine, sherry and cognac add a lot of flavor to recipes.  I never cooked with these ingredients until I lived in the South for awhile – probably because of our tee-totaling Grandmother.  But once I discovered the complex flavors you can get with less fat and seasoning I was a convert.  Wine is a good ingredient in sauces, gravies and marinades, ramping up the flavor without adding fat.  I use a tablespoon or two of sherry in almost any cooked chicken, mushroom or seafood dish for a richer flavor, it is perfect for deglazing a pan.  I use sherry or white wine in poultry gravies and cognac or red wine in beef gravies for extra flavor.  
Many of the ladies I met when I lived in Texas and Georgia used plenty of sherry, brandy, bourbon and rum in baking as well as chicken dishes and the like.  I’ve had pecan pie at Southern church dinners with so much rum in it you almost staggered, not to mention rum or bourbon balls and Lane cake filling.
When we lived in Germany, many of our German and French friends drank liqueurs, like cointreau, especially around the holidays; even the children got a little taste of Peppermint Schnapps.  We found that many desserts and chocolates, that looked sweet, weren’t; they were infused with liqueurs instead of sugar, as they would have been in America.  The area around Heidleberg and Mannheim, where we lived, was in German wine country - we learned to really enjoy Riesling.Even where we live now, in the heart of the Midwest, there are good wineries nearby, like those at the Amana Colonies, Summerset Wineries in Indianola, and Tassel Ridge Winery in Leighton, a few miles away. The Stone Cliff Winery is in Dubuque - this bottle was a Christmas gift from our children. Our farmers have found that the climate here is good for more than corn and beans. 
Myrna and I always keep sherry and cognac (brandy) on hand).  Sherry is a fortified wine with added alcohol and keeps much longer than other wines in your pantry, just like brandy.  I usually buy wine in those little bottles for recipes so I don't have leftovers if it isn't one of our favorites to drink. 
Never buy wines or sherry you wouldn’t drink.  Cooking sherry and cooking wine are made of thin, cheap bases with lots of added salt and food coloring.  Both Myrna and I have found that liquor store clerks in this area don’t even know what sherry is – but be persistent,  good sherry costs as little as $5-10 per bottle and lasts a long time.  Cognac like Hennesey costs about $35 a bottle at places like Sam’s or Costco, but a bottle lasts me about a year if I don’t can beef with it too much. 

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