If you’re looking to start cooking with wine, marinades are a great place to start; both reds and whites can be used to add depth, flavour and texture to a whole variety of ingredients, (if you’re feeling up for a little forward planning in preparation for dinner).
As a general rule of thumb, about ¼ cup of wine for these marinades if they’re for an individual cut like steak, chicken breast of a pork chop; which conveniently leaves you free to drink the remaining ¾! If you’re marinating something bigger, just try to up the amount of wine as proportionally as you can.
Red Wine & Rosemary
This combination is perfect for rich cuts of slow cooked beef or, perhaps counterintuitively, a whole roast chicken. It requires a dry red; think a Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. A bonus of this combination is that it requires little more than it’s core ingredients; beyond the wine and sprigs of fresh rosemary, you need add little more than olive oil, salt, black pepper or garlic to make it a delicious boost to your steaks.
Marinate for… 2 to 4 hours for steaks, 4 to 5 hours for a whole chicken, overnight for large beef roasts
White Wine & Lemon
The mixture of dry white wine with fresh lemon juice and zest creates a lightly sweet, citrus-infused marinade that perfectly complements chicken. A base of a white wine, ¼ cup olive oil, a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice and grated zest to taste works well. From there you can beef it up with flavor enhancing crushed garlic, or a range of herbs like oregano, parsley, rosemary and thyme.
Marinade for… 2 to 3 hours for a chicken breast, 4 to 5 hours for a whole chicken
Wine & Mustard
For a tangier and more bluntly savory marinade wine and mustard works a treat; particularly if you like your marinades to have a bit of a kick. As ever, crushed garlic is a worthwhile addition, and you can bolster the dry spiciness with a generous addition of black pepper. Mustard is relatively versatile when it comes to wine marinades; it can suit either red or white, so you can just adjust that for which meat you’re preparing, (red for lamb and beef, white for pork, as if you didn’t know).
Marinade for… 2 to 4 hours for steaks or chops, overnight for large roasts
Red Wine & Balsamic Vinegar
Another red wine based marinade that’s ideal for steaks, and another one that is refreshingly simple. All that you really need to do is match the dry red with a ¼ cup of mustard, salt, pepper and what seems to be the magical ingredient for marinades, garlic. Of course, you can add more if you feel like it; extra herbs like oregano, or even spices like cumin or turmeric work if you’re feeling adventurous. Bringing our list full circle, a dash of rosemary works well in this one too.
Marinate for… 2 to 3 hours for steaks or chops, overnight for large roasts
*Vegetarians take note; while all of these ideas mention the meats that are best suited, it isn’t only carnivores that can enjoy wine marinades. The same ideas can easily be applied to firm tofu, (which you can marinate for one to two hours), or sturdier vegetables like eggplant and mushrooms, (which can stand to be marinated a little longer at two to three).
So there you have it. Remember, marinades are something that you can play fast and loose with, and we encourage anyone to throw in their own tweaks and personal twists. But as a starting point, these simple combinations should get you off to a decent start next time you feel like putting a couple extra hours in to your meal.