This book could be labeled enchanting. Absolutely enchanting. Cooking with wine is a nice technique for adding flavor to one's dishes. I use it pretty often, from my old dinner party standby, Beef bourguignon, to my wife's family recipe for spaghetti sauce (or, as they refer to it, "gravy"). This book expands my wine cooking horizons considerably.
The book begins with a warning from Julia Child: "If you put rot-gut in, you'll get rut-gut out." Only use wine in a recipe that you would drink yourself! The author notes that (Page 6) ". . .a nice wine will only enhance a dish, such as in a sauce whose flavors are intensified through reduction."
Some of the recipes in here I have made before, such as Beef Bourguignon, Coq au vin, Coquilles Saint Jacques, Chicken Piccata, and so on. But the recipes of these tried and true dishes are different enough from mine that I can experiment.
The book proceeds as follows:
Introduction. Here, we get a brief essay on cooking with wine, a listing of wines that are good for cooking, and how long it takes alcohol from the wine to burn off.
Appetizers and soups. Here are some nice examples of wine with appetizers and soups. Chablis Vichyssoise: An old favorite, Vichyssoise, gets some new life with two cups of Chablis. Or French Onion Soup Chardonnay. I don't much enjoy Chardonnay, but I can see how this would add a nice taste to French Onion Soup. Indeed, this recipe is different from the one that I have used, and "Vive la difference!" Then there is a recipe for a salad dressing, featuring 1/4 cup of sherry (Allison's House Dressing).
The Great European Classics. Here, we see a series of classic recipes and their use of wine. Already mentioned, Beef Bourguignon, Coquilles Saint Jacques, Coq au Vin (with white wine instead of red; an interesting change of pace). Other interesting classics mentioned in this section: Veal Marsala and Veal Oscar.
Beef, Veal, Pork, and Lamb. I enjoy Steak Diane a great deal. I have not made it in the past; I note that there is an array of recipes available. Here is a nice variation. The wine used Madeira. Also, cognac (or brandy). I've tended to use a meatloaf recipe from "Joy of Cooking," but the one in this book will be my next meatloaf effort--Mom's Madeira Meatloaf with Cremini Gravy. The meatloaf has standard ingredients--plus the Madeira. The gravy features cremini or portobello mushrooms with, you guessed it, more Madeira.
There follows sections on Poultry, Seafood, Pasta, Side dishes, and Brunch.
Great pictures of the dishes. The instructions, for the most part, are straightforward. A good concept lies at the heart of this volume and that concept is executed well.