Fruit of the Vine


RS from Australia writes:

“Dear Kurma, would you please tell me what could be used as a substitute for alchohol because I can’t use it in my cooking and there are so many recipies that contain wine? help me and thank you very much.”

My reply:

I can appreciate your question as I too do not take alcohol, or use it in my cooking. A number of ‘classic’ French dishes, as you know, contain wine. Despite the fact that the alcohol is driven off during cooking, I, like yourself, find the concept of adding wine to my cooking objectionable on spiritual/religious grounds.

Furthermore, many of these traditional wine-doused recipes are meat-based dishes. My cooking, as you probably have gathered, is purely vegetarian. So I have never felt the need to substitute wine in any recipe I cook.

However, with the aim of duplicating some classic dishes I have been intrigued by a number of grape-based ingredients that would work well as replacements for wine in cooking, such as Vincotto, which is made from fresh grapes before fermentation, and is thus non-alcoholic.

You can read about Vincotto here:

It is not really cooked wine as its name literally translates, but rather is reduced grape ‘must’, which is the freshly pressed grape juice that contains the skins, seeds, and stems of the fruit. ‘Must’ is explained here:

So I would suggest experimenting with Vincotto, which should be available at well-stocked Italian grocers or supermarkets, or gourmet food shops. You would have to use less than the original quantity of wine since it is concentrated.

Life and Travel

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