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Alcohol free Beef Bourguignon?

I know this is probably ridiculous, (please no "why would you cook a wine based dish without wine" comments, I get it, it's weird) but is there a good substitute for wine in beef Bourguignon? I've been asked to make this but I cook alcohol free and am looking for any kind of substitution. Would extra stock with some red wine vinegar work? Any ideas would be very helpful.

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  1. If I were you I'd purchase a dealcoholized red wine. Definitely don't use red wine vinegar or grape juice which will make your braised meat too sweet.
    Use the dealcoholized wine the same measurement as a normal wine. Make sure your stock is rich...in your case I would make my own to make sure it's deep and rich.
    Your request is not ridiculous, nor weird....I'm very confidant your results will be phenomenal.
    Good luck and enjoy!

    1 Reply
    1. re: latindancer

      as a career sommelier, i'll offer that alcohol free wines taste ghastly. it will utterly ruin the dish.

      i have never had one even remotely palatable.

    2. Dealcoholized wines are foul and will give your stew a foul flavor.

      If it were a recipe that called for a tablespoon or two of wine, I'd say no problem, leave it out -- but wine is such a central support of the entire flavor profile of bourgignon, that my frank advice is to find another recipe.

      It would be like wanting to make fudge brownies but refusing to use chocolate.

      Red wine vinegar will be far too sour, and there really is nothing else that will give you even a similar flavor.

      Here's a link to a recent discussion on the same question: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8355...

      That poster opted to just use a different recipe.

      14 Replies
      1. re: sunshine842

        "Dealcoholized wines are foul and will give your stew a foul flavor"

        Yikes....excuse me.
        I know there's been discussion before and, based on the link you sent on the subject, I don't think anyone came to any definitive conclusion. it's a very, very good question and one that apparently needs some researching.
        I braise dishes all the time and there's got to be a wine company out there that offers a dealcoholized wine offered for this purpose.
        I'm very selective when it comes to the wine I use in my bourgignon, I won't use just any.

        So, perhaps, not all dealcoholized wines are the same?

        1. re: latindancer

          I was questioning dealcoholized wines -- not your parentage!

          If you have found one that tastes like anything even remotely resembling wine, please post the brand -- I tried every brand on the shelf when I was pregnant, and poured every last one of them down the drain. They taste foul and are not worth even pretending that they are wine.

          Looks like hotoynoodle agrees with me.

          1. re: sunshine842

            I've never found one because it never dawned on me to go looking for one.

            CH is a place for people to come looking for suggestions and answers on many different topics.
            I agree with everyone here who's familiar with braising. Of course what the OP's requesting requires a burgundy. I think everyone knows that who cooks.
            With all the people out there who can't tolerate alcohol, for one reason or another, I find it remarkable someone hasn't figured this out.

              1. re: hotoynoodle

                but they don't try to make a dish for which the key, flagship ingredient is alcohol in some form.

                Folks allergic to peanuts don't try to make peanut-butter cookies (they might make almond-butter cookies, and they might be killer good, but they're not peanut-butter cookies, and folks who have a religious restriction against pork don't make ham salad.

            1. re: sunshine842

              We're not talking about a wine for drinking.
              The OP's asked for a wine for cooking.

              You'll find all kinds of people agreeing with you...however, there are people out there who cannot drink alcohol. Does that mean they have to avoid every single braised pot roast that calls for wine?

              1. re: latindancer

                No, they don't. As many have suggested, they can have a braised pot roast without wine. But then it's not boeuf Bourguignon.

                1. re: linguafood

                  Well, for me I guess they're one in the same...

                  I wouldn't consider making my braised pot roast without wine.

                2. re: latindancer

                  If you can't drink it, you can't cook with it.

                  1. re: sunshine842

                    This is commonly misunderstood. This admonition was meant to apply to *cooking* wine, which has salt and sometimes sugar added to it to make it undrinkable, so it can be sold in supermarkets. It was never meant to mean "Don't use a cheap wine that isn't the best in cooking."

                    Somehow it has evolved to mean you can't cook with a wine that costs under $40. But the people who believe this are the same ones who would throw a fit if you served a Bordeaux at 57F rather than 55, screaming that you've killed the wine.

                    Imagine what four hours at over 200F does to it.

                    1. re: acgold7

                      Nope -- I cook with and drink inexpensive (inexpensive, not cheap) wine **all the time** -- less than $10 a bottle. Even in the US, I had a wine shop who regularly featured a French red for $5 a bottle -- and it was a very respectable wine.

                      I don't even own a wine thermometer.

                      But if you use a foul-tasting wine, you will get a foul-tasting dish.

                      1. re: acgold7

                        Somehow it has evolved to mean you can't cook with a wine that costs under $40.


                        you move in far loftier circles than do i, apparently.

                        i don't believe anybody on this board is suggesting a bottle of nuits-st-georges needs to go in the pot.

                    2. re: latindancer

                      yes, and it needn't be a hardship because there are millions of ways to make braised beef without wine, and many that although they call for wine it is not the MAIN ingredient.

              2. Per other posters, you may be able to find another dish using beef that is to your liking, but making this dish without the wine constitutes this no longer being the dish in question. It is essential.

                1. The alcohol will evaporate out of the stew pot as you cook it....or so I think. The finished dish has no alcohol.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: zzDan

                    Nope. Numerous studies have shown that at least some of the alcohol remains.

                    1. re: sunshine842

                      sunshine842 is correct; proof will remain in the pot. One option might be to use beef broth with a tot of decent brandy flavoring, just for a mildly alcoholic taste without the wine - but be aware most flavorings are alcohol-distillates, so might not be a great option if you want to keep it completely Eah-free. No matter what you do end up doing though, (and no offense meant) if you leave out the wine, it won't be beef......bourgignonne. You can call it Brasato instead. : ) Or you could make a carbonnade with lots of onions and alcohol-free beer, which IMO is of better quality and flavor than any alcohol-free wine I've tasted.

                      1. re: sunshine842

                        thx .... still it must be that 90% on up of the alcohol is evaporated out during such a stewing. Though I recognize the OP wants zero alcohol in the dish and nothing wrong with that. You just ain't gonna to get beef Bourguignon

                        1. re: sunshine842

                          Yes it will, if added to the entire pot. But why not add the wine to a part of the dish where it can be cooked down separately. Like mushrooms and onions after they have been sauteed. Put in the wine, cook it down to half or less, and virtually all the alcohol is truly gone.

                          1. re: kcender

                            but "virtually all" is not "none" -- and as I specified Here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8454...

                            there are lots of folks, who for their own reasons, cannot or will not accept "virtually all". They must have "none."

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              Fine, as religious or other reasons may not make it possible for even theoretical traces to be tolerated. However reducing to half volume gets something like 99% out. That's how distillation can work to bring a 5% alcoholic mash up to the 90 proof or so of raw whiskey. It is up to the consumer to determine if this is good enough.

                      2. You were asked to make this dish? Is it for a party? Someone else to eat? Did the person that asked know you cook alcohol-free? Are they expecting it to be the traditional dish?

                        1. You could make a good beef stew with the other ingredients, adjusting the liquid (as needed) with water or more stock. A bit of vinegar or other acid might copy the acidity of the wine, but that's not the only quality the wine brings to the dish. A skilled cook might be able to duplicate the taste, especially if they have real Bourguignon for comparison. But I would just focus on making the stew taste good, and not worry about replicating the dish.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: paulj

                            me too, there are so many ways to make a wonderful beef stew, why make fake anything?

                          2. I can offer a suggestion based upon my tastings of non-alcoholic wine--the Cabernet by Ariel. Would I want to drink a lot of it, no. But I believe it would be fine when cooked into the stew--much like the discovery that cheap reds do better in stews than expensive ones. I would make sure to brown everything well and maybe add a little balsamic to kind of round out the flavor. Not the best solution, but I think it could work.

                            1. Don't let the wine snobs and recipe purists get to you. What you want is perfectly possible.

                              If the issue is that you don't even want alcohol in the house, then the dealcoholized wine solution is fine. While wine snobs look down their noses at these, and I don't love them to drink straight up, they're fine for cooking purposes. Any subtleties and nuances in any wine will be long lost in the simmering process and the high temps the wine will be subjected to.

                              If your only concern is that you don't want to *consume* alcohol, then if you follow the classic procedure using regular wine -- which is to boil the wine and reduce it by half before adding the stock -- most but not all of the alcohol will burn away. As others have noted, some alcohol will remain, but it's only about as much as is in a typical glass of supermarket orange juice -- well under .5%.


                              Don't get discouraged by the naysayers.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: acgold7

                                Good points and I agree with everything you're saying.

                                The truth is there are people who cannot tolerate the mere taste of the wine in cooking. It's something they avoid altogether...regardless of whether or not the alcohol content is still there.

                                1. re: acgold7

                                  the OP said she doesn't cook with alcohol -- so we skipped on to whether it's possible to cook a bourgignon with *no* alcohol.

                                  And as above, the de-alcoholized wines are foul, and fall under the "if you can't drink it, don't cook with it" category. I've consumed a lot of great wines, and I've tolerated a lot of pretty crummy cheap plonk, and even crummy cheap plonk is better than the de-alcoholized stuff.

                                  If someone wanted to try it, and was comfortable parting with the price for a wine that isn't drinkable, it might be an okay trial, you would be okay with the possibility/probability of wasting an entire batch of expensive ingredients.

                                  But if it's for a dinner club and there will be repercussions if the dish comes out tasting as lousy as the wine? Maybe not.

                                  1. re: acgold7

                                    "Any subtleties and nuances in any wine will be long lost in the simmering process and the high temps the wine will be subjected to."

                                    However flavors that you might not want might get concentrated such as residual sugar. Choose the wine carefully I say.

                                    1. re: Chinon00

                                      Agreed, but RS is usually not an issue with dry red Burgundy-style wines. You sure wouldn't want to use Peach Riunite.

                                  2. In your situation I would keep Verjus around the house. Red and White, it can be hard to find, just order it on line. It works great for braises, I have used it in this manner.

                                    I have used this one: http://www.amazon.com/Red-Verjus-Fusi...

                                    Good luck!

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: AAQjr

                                      Interesting. Thanks.

                                      I just knew, somewhere, there'd have to be something the OP could use for her purposes.
                                      There's a large population out there who're asking for the same thing and it's unimaginable there's nothing there for them to use.

                                      1. re: latindancer

                                        I have to admit, I originally thought the same as most of the other posters.. because I love wine and it is a wine dish It is tough to sub for. I do use a lot of verjus, because it is a good product in its own right. I have used it for braises before and it works fine. I thought it might be helpful to suggest.

                                        Verjus is really just tart (acidic) grape juice made from wine grapes. The white is easier to find and great in vinaigrettes, for brightening soups (in place of lemon juice) ect..

                                        1. re: AAQjr

                                          The white is also the best sub for wine in making risotto.

                                          1. re: Karl S

                                            good call, yeah I have used it for that as well.. I like to use it to de-glaze sauteed or seared mushrooms or other veg as well

                                    2. There are plenty of things that you can do to add flavor and get a good result. mushrooms, stock, tomato paste and anchovies are a good start.
                                      I'm sure it will turn out delicious. Please don't be deterred.

                                      1. I want to underscore the value of verjus for alcohol-free cooking. Unfortunately, it can be hard to get and relatively pricy in the States (I wish American vintners began to realize this would be a useful addition to their product lines....), but it is the only product that provides the right kind of acid-fruit profile of the grape without the alcohol.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: latindancer

                                          Verjus is not the same thing dealcoholized wine; it's an ancient product, the juice of wine grapes pre-fermentation - it's just that, in the days before artificial refrigeration and freezing, it was not something you could keep around for long, shall we say, though verjus could also be made from rehydrated raisins. (Catholic priests who are alcoholic can consecrate and consume mustum, a form of verjus that has been allowed to nominally ferment, but that's another discussion....)

                                          Verjus is better known in cultures with long-standing cuisines built around wine grapes - as in Europe. It's not well known in the US, and that's part of the problem with creating the demand that would produce more supply that would increase familiarity. I suspect it may take a recovering-alcoholic-chef-vinter to become the champion of this product....

                                          1. re: Karl S

                                            Very interesting. I've never known about this product in all the years...

                                            The only thing I'd heard about was the dealcoholized wine and, obviously, with people from all over the world posting here I would have thought someone would have mentioned this wonderful product.
                                            I've learned something new and valuable. Thanks.

                                          2. re: Karl S

                                            i'm well aware of it, as most of my chefs have used it. however most americans don't know about it, and it's difficult to find, other than on-line.

                                            we don't work in a vaccuum. a huge part of my job is pairing wine with food. i need to know every ingredient in every dish and taste everything on the menu. jeebus.

                                            1. re: Karl S

                                              Actually, verjus is lovely splashed over ice or mixed with still or sparkling water. I have a good friend who doesn't drink alcohol and this is his drink of choice when most of the rest of us may be drinking wine. Only problem is that it's not easy to find and when you do, it's usually every bit as expensive as a decent wine.

                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                Verjus is really more of a vinegar-alternative than a wine-alternative.

                                                1. re: benbenberi

                                                  Yes, Madeline Kamman uses verjus in a vinaigrette.

                                              2. I'm always amazed at the creative thoughts expressed by many who contribute to this forum and how, even though there is no method for achieving the goal expressed in a post, there is typically someone (or many) who seem to believe their solution will work.
                                                Fact: Wine is included in a recipe for a specific purpose, usually flavor profile.
                                                Fact: There is no substitute for wine in a recipe. That is, nothing that will produce the wonderful flavors that wine offers to the dish. You might, sometimes, get away with substituting one wine for another - but substituting anything in place of wine is an exercise in futility.
                                                My advice; either cook with wine or just leave it out of the recipe and enjoy the result.
                                                Non-alcohol wines are unworthy of using in any recipe. IMO, they're not worthy of the energy it might require to pour them down a drain. If you used them to prepare Beef Bourguignon you would, IMO, be wasting a lot of otherwise good ingredients.

                                                1. From what I've read, this is for a cooking group.
                                                  If it's the one I'm thinking about, then you are not bound by the recipe.
                                                  The recipe is only used to illustrate a technique, like braising.
                                                  The end goal is to learn something new, not following a recipe exactly.

                                                  11 Replies
                                                  1. re: dave_c

                                                    it all depends on the confines of the group itself -- some of them go pretty far out of their way to source imported ingredients and to duplicate recipes traditional to the region or theme.

                                                    1. re: dave_c

                                                      I don't want to speculate about what group it is but I think it's a highly valuable 'end goal' , as you say, for groups of people who don't have alcohol in their homes and want to learn about dishes that they could duplicate without it.
                                                      I think the OP came into the forum, asking a very legitimate question, looking for answers. I only hope she's lurked a bit after leaving to learn about verjus.

                                                      1. re: latindancer

                                                        the OP said not a word about anyone else avoiding alcohol; she in fact said "I cook alcohol-free" and "I don't have any alcohol in my house" -- it certainly leaves open the possibility that the rest of the group do, in fact, consume alcohol.

                                                        It might be a much better result if, before championing ingredients with which you're not familiar, you give them a taste. You're obviously convinced with d-a wines...and the same sentiment follows with verjus.

                                                        Verjus tastes like grape juice that has been sitting around on the counter for too long -- not fermenting yet, just tart and starting to go off. A glug or two as a substitute for vinegar or to deglaze a pan, fine -- but certainly not the 2 cups or so that you'd use in a standard bourgignon recipe.

                                                        It would set your teeth on edge in that sort of quantity.

                                                        (Yes, I tried it -- straight up out of a glass in a cooking class.)

                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                          I disagree with your assessment of the taste of verjus and I've both drunk and served it on several occasions. As I said above, I have one friend who prefers it to other options when he's choosing not to drink at one of my dinner parties. I can only think that you must have had a different brand of verjus than the one I buy, or else the one you tried in class had been sitting around too long. I find the taste very pleasant and quite refreshing, especially with a splash of soda.

                                                          1. re: JoanN

                                                            I was trying not to namedrop -- but it was at the Ritz cooking school in Paris -- they neither buy cheap shit nor do they use old shit that's been sitting around.

                                                            And the instructor uncorked the bottle as she led the class -- so it hadn't been open more than 15-20 minutes when I tried it.

                                                            It wasn't a "spit-it-out and choke" experience, but it definitely wasn't a "hey, fill my glass I want some more of that" either. It was pretty much as I described -- tasting as though it had just begun to go off -- and that was the consensus amongst the other students, as well, who were all French.

                                                          2. re: sunshine842

                                                            Have you ever used verjus to braise meat? I have, several times. It will work fine, in fact it tastes lighter and closer to light pinot from burgandy than the big bodied merlot's most people use.

                                                            just call it 'boeuf bourguignon aux verjus rouge'. Problem solved. It's easier and lazier to just say no it cant be done. I'd rather help give her (the OP) a workable solution.

                                                            1. re: AAQjr


                                                              I've found 3 different varieties of Verjus in LA... Burgundy, oak aged and clear. I've been advised the clear, based on the demand from various chefs, is the most commonly used for vinaigrettes. The market I'm going to purchase it from also offers it from 2 different companies. Do you have a preference?

                                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                                Sorry I missed your post earlier.

                                                                I usually use the fusion linked to above because i can get it at a good price from my purveyor. For me cost is most important because I use both Red and White and I don't like to dole it out in tea spoons. A clear will be the most versatile IME, but the Red or Burgundy is fun to play with if you have the pantry space.

                                                                It would be nice if there were more options out there!!

                                                                1. re: AAQjr

                                                                  Thank you, AAQjr...

                                                                  I purchased the clear Verjus and made a salad using bibb lettuce, fresh herbs with a simple vinaigrette using this product. I like it. It's very fresh tasting and I look forward to experimenting with the rest of them.
                                                                  I appreciate you introducing this to me :).

                                                                  1. re: latindancer

                                                                    I'm glad you like it! Verjus has a lot of uses in the kitchen

                                                          3. re: latindancer

                                                            Then maybe, a theme for another time could be "alternatives to the traditional ingredients" type of meal.

                                                        2. Hi all, please pardon the interruption.

                                                          We've removed a number of increasingly heated responses from this thread. If you have constructive recipe suggestions for the OP, please do offer them. But please keep the focus on the chow, and not on other chowhounds. And as always, please keep the discussion civil.

                                                          1. Doesn't the heat of cooking make the alcohol cook off? We need a professional chef to answer this. I thought it did but I don't really know. If the problem is that someone eating this dish is a recovering alcoholic who may react to the flavor, why make the dish at all? Cook the beef some other way, maybe as a curry.

                                                            5 Replies
                                                              1. re: wekick

                                                                In most recipes, you're right. But if you reduce the wine to something like 10th of its volume, rehydrate that with water, and then use that rehydrated wine as the basis for your braise, you'll effectively burn off enough of the alcohol that you can consider it non-alcoholic (I mentioned this in a post that was rather bizarrely deleted - even fruit juice contains some insignificant amount of alcohol via natural fermentation, and wine that has been reduced to a very small fraction of its original volume contains a similar amount of alcohol). You do change the flavor a bit by using wine in this way though.

                                                                1. re: wekick

                                                                  While those numbers are undoubtedly technically correct, like everything else from the USDA it almost appears as if it was designed to be as misleading as possible in order to scare people. Who would ever just pour wine into a pot of liquid and then remove the pot from the heat? The chart notes that long simmering dishes, like the one in question here, result in 5% or less of the original alcohol remaining. And if you reduce the wine properly, by deglazing the pan in which you have browned the meat, and bring the wine to a furious boil, reduce by at least half and *then* add any other liquid, the amount remaining will be significantly less than even that paltry 5% of the original 12% or so.

                                                                  You really are getting more booze in your morning OJ.

                                                                  1. re: acgold7

                                                                    but for those who avoid alcohol entirely for any of a number of reasons....any alcohol is too much.

                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                      and for those same people even wine with 0.0% alcohol might be too much. The best we can do is make suggestions and let the OP decide what can work for her.

                                                              2. Not sure as to why you can't use wine. Done properly there will be no alchohol in the dish. Only if you add wine at the very end of the cooking process will you be left with any alchohol in your dish. This is a no-no anyway, since you don't want a "raw" wine taste. Alchohol boils away much faster than the other flavorful essences in wine so you'll end up with a dish flavored with non-alchoholic wine anyway. AA safe! Just as long as you don't drink any while cooking!

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: stiritup

                                                                  No, as above, even after cooking, there is measurable alcohol content in the dish, albeit very low.

                                                                  Not only do recovering alcoholics sometimes avoid any alcohol whatsoever, there are several religions in which alcohol is forbidden, as well.

                                                                  Religion is above question -- and having seen the devastation that substance abuse wreaks on people and careers and families -- the folks who have battled their way out of that particular hell deserve to follow whatever rules they need to have to set for themselves in order to keep their lives happy and healthy.

                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                    Agree with this. We have a recovering alcoholic in the family and absolutely no EtOH can be used.
                                                                    I used to work at a place that made extracts for commercial application that were EtOH free. They used isopropyl alcohol which was acceptable for certain religions where EtOH was not. For some none means none. The OP did not use vanilla extract for that reason.

                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                      Judging from her blog, the reason for not using wine in this dish is purely religious. Discussion of whether any alcohol remains is as useful as discussing whether there's any caffeine in a particular brand of decaff. Some religious communities just don't use certain classes of beverages or foods.

                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                        You're right. I guess I should muddle through the entire dicussion before adding a comment to the original entry. Kinda new to this. Please forgive.