Now we're cooking: How summer wines can brighten your menus

Cooking with wine

Summer sipping calls for crisp whites, light-bodied reds, delicate roses, or bubbles, ideally served on a breezy, sun-splashed patio alongside good friends. But once the mercury rises, wine can go much further than the glass itself. It can also be easily incorporated into summertime cooking in several deliciously creative ways.

Wine has a way of enhancing the flavours of various ingredients, giving dishes added intensity and depth. It’s no wonder French chefs use it liberally, though it has far more uses than in rich, robust stews. Here are a few ways wine can brighten your summer menus.

    1. Deglazing

This is a simple cooking technique where you add a liquid to a pan to dissolve the food particles stuck to the bottom and then use that mixture to make a flavourful sauce.

Try Il Padrino Pinot Grigio for a beautiful plate of fresh, pan-seared shrimp or prawns and scallops.

    1. Marinating

Wine marinades are just the thing for grilled meats, whether it’s beef skewers or top sirloin. Flank steak makes for an easy summer dinner. Combine your favourite spices with brown sugar and two cups of a bold red such as Monte Rosso Tempranillo. Marinate in fridge for five hours. Drain, grill, and serve with a crisp green salad.

    1. In broth


White wine is ideal in a steaming pot of fresh mussels, the shellfish making for a light, memorable meal. Heat olive oil in a heavy pot, then sauté shallots and garlic until soft, about two minutes. Turn heat to high then add one cup of crisp white wine such as Santa Rita Winemaker’s Lot Sauvignon Blanc

and bring to a boil. Add three pounds of mussels, scrubbed and debearded, and cover. Steam until shells open, about five to eight minutes. Discard any mussels that stay closed. Top with parsley and serve with slices of crusty baguette or oven-baked fries.

    1. Poaching

Simmering foods in a wine-based liquid gives them a supercharged flavour and is far more interesting than using water alone.

Poached juicy Okanagan peaches make for an easy, elegant, and impressive dessert. Peel and halve the fruit then simmer in simple syrup with three cups of fruit-forward white wine such as the Shy Pig Traminer Riesling for 10 minutes. Allow to cool then serve peaches with vanilla-bean ice cream or Greek yogurt.

For variations, try pears, apples, strawberries, or any other fruit that’s firm, almost hard. Poaching will soften fruit significantly, so avoid any produce that’s soft to begin with as it will fall apart when cooked.

Fruit can be poached in red wine as well. It’s best to use a variety with ripe berry flavours, such as Vive La Vie Red Blend

To go with so much tasty fare, consider a making a batch of sangria. The colourful, celebratory, and refreshing drink is perfect for patio parties.

    1. Summer Sangria


    • 1 Bottle of Rose – Try La Serrana Rose

    • 1 cup Pineapple juice

    • 1/2 cup Vodka

    • 1/4 cup Triple sec

    • 1/2 cup Simple syrup

    • 1 Lemon, cut into thin rounds

    • 1 Lime, cut into thin rounds

    • 1 Orange, cut into thin rounds

    • 6 oz. Raspberries (1 package)

Serve over ice.

A general rule when it comes to cooking with wine is to have a glass to sip at the same time. Chefs always say to cook only with wine you enjoy drinking: that doesn’t mean you have to purchase a special-occasion wine, but by opting for a bottle that you know you like on its own will yield the best results in the kitchen.

Another tip? Because wine contains alcohol, be sure to add it at the start of cooking so the alcohol has a chance to burn off. If you add it to a dish near the end of cooking, the taste can be unpleasant. Looking for more wine tips? Try these clever hacks at home.

For more ways to use wine in summer cooking, visit Everything Wine, where knowledgeable, friendly staff members can share all sorts of tips and tricks. Its newest shop in Vancouver is now open—the largest private liquor store in the entire province. It’s at 8570 River District Crossing, near Marine and Boundary.

There, you’ll find more than 4,000 varieties from all over the globe, including B.C.’s finest, and a fine-wine selection in the Extensive Vintages Room. The tasting bar is open daily from 2 to 6 p.m., just as at all other Everything Wine locations: 998 Marine Drive in North Vancouver, 112-15735 Croydon Drive in Surrey, or 31 – 2401 Millstream Road in Langford on Vancouver Island.

Visit the store online at for more details.

 This story was created by Content Works. Postmedia's commercial content division, on behalf of Everything Wine.