We cook | With Wine

Wining and dining in the kitchen

If you're like us, a bottle with a few inches of wine still left in it gets recorked and returned to the fridge. But instead of letting that lonely bottle hide behind the week's groceries, we retrieve it within a couple of days. As a cooking ingredient, that bit of wine adds aroma and luxury to ordinary weeknight fare.

Sophisticated cooks take great pains to match the wine to the cooking; we take a more haphazard approach. The wine we drank earlier in the week with roast cod might find its way into the stewed chicken a couple of days later. The simmering bird, with onion and tomato wedges, absorbs the intensity of a single glass of white wine, and the natural juices in the chicken, along with the wine, produce a mellow and savory broth.

Spanish clams, steamed with white wine and onions, are in the pot only for minutes. Still, the clams make an intense sauce mixed with briny juices. To use up leftover red, we stir some into an Italian risotto, which turns the Arborio rice an unexpected dark brown with a surprisingly deep taste.

When to use red and when to add a little white can be a dilemma -- if you're fussy. For everyday fare, we pour what we have. You can add dark wine to light dishes, as long as you don't mind how the color turns out. Add white wine to something like lamb shanks and the dish may be more interesting than if you had used red.

You can pour the last glass of red into the gravy at Thanksgiving, stir it into a simmering tomato sauce, or use it to thin beef stew juices, cooking each for two to three minutes so the alcohol boils off. You'll love the results.