Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
Can you cook with non-alcoholic wine? And if so, what kind of non-alcoholic wine should you cook with?
—Faith, Golden Valley, Minn.
In cooking, wine can make two key contributions: flavor and alcohol, the key benefit of alcohol being that it dissolves and enhances flavors better than just plain water. Remember that fruity wines are better to cook with than overly oaky or tannic ones. While you don’t have to spend a lot of money on a bottle of wine to cook with, I only cook with wine that I would actually drink. I usually use the bottle of wine that I’ll be enjoying with the meal, especially when it’s just a splash for deglazing.
If using alcohol isn’t an option for you, non-alcoholic wine isn’t the first substitute I would reach for. Of course, if you have some already on hand, I don’t think it would hurt. My first choice as a substitute for wine would be broth, or, if it’s for the purpose of deglazing, vinegar (you can also mix the two). Depending on the recipe, you can also consider cream, or fruit juices like grape, apple, cranberry, pomegranate or even tomato. Of course, plain old water works, but it might dilute the flavor of the dish.