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Sep 5, 2009 10:21 AM

Non-alcoholic wine?

I have to cook for a person who has liver disease. This, obviously, eliminates the ability to use wine in my cooking. I'm looking for recommendations for the best non-alcoholic wines to use for cooking. I've tried a couple of the supermarket variety and neither of us like the taste. Is there anything out there that anyone's used that they really like?

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  1. I'm no chemistry expert, but I'm not sure cooking with non-alcoholic wine would "work". Part of the magic of using wine in cooking is that certain fats and flavors are soluble in alcohol, but not in other liquids. Non-alcoholic wine just wouldn't impart the same properties to a dish, no matter how tasty.

    Can anyone with a better understanding of food chemistry add to this?

    One idea: you could try cooking with a low-alcohol wine and simmering the dish for a long time to make sure all the alcohol burns off.

    1. If you post your menu/recipe on the home cooking board I'm sure you'll get tons of recs for acceptable substitutes. IMHO nothing non-alcoholic will work in coq au vin, but for deglazing or building sauces there are options.

      1. I'm not clear why liver disease "obviously eliminates the ability to use wine" in cooking. Completely eliminating alcohol is impossible; not only are there small amounts in myriad ingredients, the human digestive system produces a few grams every day even in the absence of any alcohol intake. Given that only a negligible amount of alcohol is left in a long-simmered dish that contains wine, why not just use wine?

        That said, if you can't use wine for cooking, you're probably better off using another type of liquid entirely. Saba, verjus, stock, tomato juice, barley tea, water, and various combinations of ingredients can give tasty results. It won't be the same, but it can be good.

        2 Replies
        1. re: alanbarnes

          alanbarnes - here's a link to an explanation - (the start of this person's disease was non-alcoholic fatty liver) -
          We've been going to MDs since the diagnosis of cirrhosis over 4 years ago. Alcohol consumption is strictly forbidden - unless, of course, you're contemplating suicide! Our biggest disappointment comes with braising liquids that we had always used wine with - pot roasts, chickens, tangines, etc. I've used my stock, but we don't like it. I've tried some of the supermarket stuff and, quite frankly, it's garbage. We've also turned thumbs down on apple juice, grape juice, and apple cider. At this point, we've just be staying away from anything that requires wine in the braising. I do use wine when the instructions are to boil until the wine is evaporated. I was hoping some folks on this board might have some suggestions about non-supermarket non-alcoholic wines that we might try.

          1. re: bucksguy14

            I have yet to hear of a non-alcoholic wine that's worth a damn, and as others have said, without the alcohol to dissolve some flavor compounds, that's another strike against you. One thing that has always sounded like a good idea to me (albeit admittedly untested in my own kitchen) is substituting black currant juice for red wine. At least it has some tannin to contribute the finished dish, and if it's unadulterated and used in moderation, it's not too sweet. Added to your stock that already has some tasty, tasty glutamates, it might form a reasonable approximation...