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The question

I want to use wine in a recipe that I'm making for guests who are Muslim and don't drink. Will the alcohol burn off in cooking?

The answer

In a word, no. At least not all of it.

Alcohol has a lower boiling point than water. That's how it got the reputation for burning off during cooking. But varying amounts of alcohol invariably remain.

A study published many years ago in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics put six alcohol-containing recipes to the test. It found that foods retained between 4 per cent and 85 per cent of their alcohol depending on the preparation methods.

As you might suspect, techniques that involved high evaporation, notably long-simmered dishes such as pot roast, retained less alcohol than those that were either uncooked or briefly heated. And the larger or wider the pan, the more efficient it was at getting rid of alcohol, presumably because of the increased surface area of the liquid.

If you're going to respect any guest who as a rule abstains from alcohol, cooking with wine (or beer or spirits) is not an option. Consider adding stock or water instead, assuming the recipe can tolerate it. If you're thinking of coq au vin or some other wine-heavy dish, don't even bother.

E-mail your wine and spirits questions to Beppi Crosariol. Look for answers to select questions to appear in the Wine & Spirits newsletter and on The Globe and Mail website.

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