Thursday, October 19, 2006

Cooking experiments with wine

Wine is a versatile liquid in the kitchen. Chemical reaction between alcohol and the food under high temperature produces an array of delicious aroma and taste. In western cooking, wine is used to prepare sauces to accompany the dishes or simply apply to simmer with the meat. To understand the chemistry exchange between wine, heat and the meat, I conducted an experiment on cooking with wine.

First, I selected a bottle of St Hallet Shiraz from Barossa Australia which has an alcohol level of about 14%. It uses a blend of Shiraz, Grenache and Touriga with the latter being the grape for Port wine. It is medium-bodied with a youthful cherry palate and hints of black pepper. The Touriga somehow gave it a floral finishing. The taste is rather unique from the traditional GSM blend. In any case, this wine is good enough to be served in a casual dinner. I decided to use the same wine in my cooking. This time, I am doing a pan-fried pork chop, nothing fancy. After the meat is being cooked to my liking with minimal seasoning (marinate with salt, pepper and small amount of soya sauce), I poured a cup full of St Hallet onto the meat when it is still under strong heat.

Wow, the aroma is inviting. It is a complex mixture of fruitiness and nuttiness. As for the taste, it is like having a meat stock added. There is definitely sweetness in new sauce. Unfortunately, the unique floral nose from Touriga has not come through. So, what has happened to the alcohol and meat that gives this extra dimension to our dish? Researching into wine chemistry revealed that the alcohol will react with the acids from the meat under high heat to form a fragrant, fruity compound called esters. In addition, alcohol will also react with oxidizing substances to form aldehyde which is responsible for flavors like almonds and nuts. These new flavors are extra to both the food and alcohol.

It is just a simple experiment which seems to validate the chemistry theory. I am glad to have tried it and dissected the new flavors. Cheers!

Copyright of Wine Treasures Pte Ltd

By Cher Lim
Wine Treasures Pte Ltd



Blogger AnJaka said...

Hi Cher, This is a good article site.
i found many information here.
Good luck, Cher

Fri Nov 17, 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger Cher Lim said...

I am glad you like the information. I will write a little bit about viticulture which is the mother of all winegrape production. Cheers!

Sun Nov 19, 03:43:00 PM  
Blogger AnJaka said...

Hey Cher, Happy merry christmas.
see you soon, Cher

Sun Dec 17, 03:40:00 AM  

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