Wine is important in cuisine not just for its value as a drink, but as a flavor agent, primarily in stocks and braising, since its acidity lends balance to rich savory or sweet dishes.[106] Wine sauce is an example of a culinary sauce that uses wine as a primary ingredient.[107] Natural wines may exhibit a broad range of alcohol content, from below 9% to above 16% ABV, with most wines being in the 12.5–14.5% range.[108] Fortified wines (usually with brandy) may contain 20% alcohol or more.
Cooking often involves water, frequently present in other liquids, which is both added in order to immerse the substances being cooked (typically water, stock or wine), and released from the foods themselves. A favorite method of adding flavor to dishes is to save the liquid for use in other recipes. Liquids are so important to cooking that the name of the cooking method used is often based on how the liquid is combined with the food, as in steaming, simmering, boiling, braising and blanching. Heating liquid in an open container results in rapidly increased evaporation, which concentrates the remaining flavor and ingredients – this is a critical component of both stewing and sauce making.
Wine has been produced for thousands of years. The earliest known traces of wine are from Georgia (c. 6000 BC),[2][3][4][5] Iran (c. 5000 BC),[6][7] and Sicily (c. 4000 BC)[8] although there is evidence of a similar alcoholic drink being consumed earlier in China (c. 7000 BC).[9][10][11] The earliest known winery is the 6,100-year-old Areni-1 winery in Armenia.[12][13] Wine reached the Balkans by 4500 BC and was consumed and celebrated in ancient Greece, Thrace and Rome. Throughout history, wine has been consumed for its intoxicating effects.[14][15][16]
Foods that spoil easily, such as meats, dairy, and seafood, must be prepared a certain way to avoid contaminating the people for whom they are prepared. As such, the rule of thumb is that cold foods (such as dairy products) should be kept cold and hot foods (such as soup) should be kept hot until storage. Cold meats, such as chicken, that are to be cooked should not be placed at room temperature for thawing, at the risk of dangerous bacterial growth, such as Salmonella or E. coli.[139]
Most food has its origin in plants. Some food is obtained directly from plants; but even animals that are used as food sources are raised by feeding them food derived from plants. Cereal grain is a staple food that provides more food energy worldwide than any other type of crop.[2] Corn (maize), wheat, and rice – in all of their varieties – account for 87% of all grain production worldwide.[3][4][5] Most of the grain that is produced worldwide is fed to livestock.