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Ask Niki: Wine in cooking

Q: "I'm ready to use wine in cooking – after 25 years off the bottle! But for newly recovering alcoholics, this may not be the case. Are there any substitutes for red and white wine in recipes?"

Kathy, Timaru

A: If you can't drink alcohol, you don't have any wine on you, or you don't want to open a bottle for just one recipe, here are some options:

  • Leave the wine out. Wine adds depth and flavour, but bump up the other seasonings in your dish and it will probably be okay.
  • Instead of white wine, try apple juice diluted with water with a squirt of lemon juice. For red wine, try grape juice with a splash of red wine vinegar. It's not the same, but it's not bad.
  • Try the alcohol-free wines available at the supermarket.
  • Prenzel makes Vincon – a wine concentrate without alcohol. It keeps in the pantry and has good winey flavour.
  • Choose your dishes carefully. Don't opt for a recipe with wine as a major ingredient such as coq au vin.
First published: Apr 2010



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