How to Fix a Spaghetti Sauce That I Put Too Much Wine In

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Just because you put too much wine into your spaghetti sauce doesn't mean you'll have to start from scratch. Fix a spaghetti sauce that you put too much wine into with help from a published cookbook author and food expert in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Understanding Taste for Better Cooking
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Video Transcript

Hi. I'm Barb Stuckey, author of Taste, and today we're going to talk about how to fix a pasta sauce into which you've put too much wine. The easiest way to avoid putting too much wine into a pasta sauce is to avoid putting too much wine in to the cook who's making the pasta sauce. So the best way to fix your sauce is to simply make a second batch. Make it exactly the same way you made the first batch but avoid putting any wine into it at all. Then when you're finished, combine the two batches and voila, you've solved your problem. But you might not have enough ingredients on hand to do that. So let's talk about what else you can do to fix it. We first want to diagnose what the problem is, whether the problem is smell or taste. Because you don't want to fix something with the wrong tool. If it's a screw you don't want to use a hammer. So if the problem is smell, we'll want to simmer the sauce for a little bit longer to get rid of some of that winey, alcoholy smell. Now you might think that you can get rid of alcohol by simply simmering something on the stove for a few minutes. And that's not entirely true. Alcohol can take up to three hours to burn out of a sauce. If the problem is taste, we'll want to step back for a minute and understand the mechanics of taste. Because we can really only detect five things using our sense of taste, sweet, sour, bitter, salt and umami. And the only two of those that are present in red wine are sour and bitter. So in order to correct the taste of sour and bitter, we want to use other tastes to balance them out. And the first one that's maybe not so intuitive is using just a little bit of sweetness. Sometimes I just use regular sugar, just a little bit. Now you don't want your pasta sauce to taste sweet. That would taste out of balance. Just a tiny bit will offset the bitterness and or the sourness. The other thing you could do is of course our friend in the kitchen, salt. And I call salt the super hero of taste. Because it does this amazing thing where it knocks down the bitterness of taste and red wine has bitterness in it, and allows the good taste to come forward, like the sweetness of the tomatoes that you're using for example. So salt can really be a great thing to use to balance out bitterness. Now the thing is if it's too sour, if your sauce is too sour, you may not want to use salt because salt and sourness can actually enhance each other. So make sure you're using the right tool for the problem. Lastly we're going to use a little bit of fat which helps everything. Let's be honest. And some chefs like to use a little bit of dairy, like some heavy cream for example. And just a dash of heavy cream in the sauce gives it a nice rich mouth feel as well as balancing out the bitterness or the sourness. It's the same principle as when you add dairy to your bitter coffee. You could also choose to add something like olive oil if you wanted. You could add a little bit of that green freshness that you get from olive oil. But what happens is that the bitter compounds in the wine will attach to the dairy and then when you taste it you won't get as much of the bitterness on your tongue. So it really can help to mitigate the bitterness in a sauce. The best way to avoid putting too much wine or anything in your sauce is to taste it between everything you add. So add a little bit of wine, stir taste, a little bit more, stir and taste. That way you're less likely to have this problem in the first place. I'm Barb Stuckey, author of Taste, and for more information on how taste works, go to my website, Cheers.


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