1. Red or white wine can be used to effectively deglaze a pan and get the rich flavour of those brown bits from seared meat into your dish. This is a great technique for braises, stews and other one-pot meals that beg for richer flavour.
2. Take the above tip one step further and make a red wine reduction. It’s not only easy and delicious but looks gourmet, too. For simple step-by-step instructions for steak with red wine sauce see my previous post Fake it ‘til you make it: Gourmet cheffery 101.
3. Iron Chef did a whole episode on beer, and they rocked it in everything from a pineapple dessert made with black chocolate stout to popcorn-encrusted chicken breast with wheat beer. Beer is not only versatile but also adds a unique depth of flavour to meat-based dishes. Case in point: my big batch of homemade Superbowl chili was made even tastier thanks to a whole bottle of a nice dark brew.
4. You can make Beer Can Chicken—or, more crudely (and cottage-esque), Beer Butt Chicken—a barbecue favourite that is sure to get people talking.
5. Having wine or beer in your mise en place means that you always have a refreshing swig of something on hand if you get thirsty. Try this fun trick when making your chicken and beer marinade or lentils simmered in red wine: One for me, one for you.
6. Three words: red wine risotto. Simply add a splash or two of good-quality red wine in place of some of the water or chicken stock.
7. As a wine-loving Canadian I really appreciate this next idea: drizzle some syrupy sweet icewine over ice cream for a decadent dessert. Sure, it’s quite a bit pricier than other more conventional wines. But icewine is one of those rare treats that comes in handy for the perfect locavore dinner party or upscale foodie feast. Your American friends will surely be impressed.