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Any effect from cooking with wine to an alcoholic?

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
I've started to use a small amount of wine or beer in a few of the homestyle comfort food meals I make (for my store) which as we all know brings a wonderful, mild flavour to food.

While I know the effects of the alcohol itself are eliminated with cooking, deglazing etc, what I don't know is if just having the flavour of the wine would be a concern to a recovering alcoholic?

I am asked this question on occassion and I don't have an answer. I fully support the customer's decision to err on the side of caution but hate loosing the sale IF there would be no ill effect.

While I don't plan to stop adding white wine to my deep dish chicken pot pie or Guiness to my Irish stew, and I do state all my ingredients on the label, I would hate for someone to overlook the addition of spirits. Should I be concerned?

Could you please share your thoughts with me about this?

doodle
Life is too short to eat bad food!
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post #2 of 26
I had the same thoughts when I started hosting more folks at my home, so I asked two folks I'm close with, both of whom are in recovery. Their answers were identical: they asked for a heads-up if a recipe contained alcohol, and left it at that. Different recipes elicited different reactions ; both agreed that 1/2 a cup of Guinness in the beef stew didn't matter so much, but the coq au vin was a different story.

My suggestion might be to label your dishes clearly, like "Irish stew with Guinness." Anyone in recovery should know their limitations, and anyone who just wants to eat it can eat it.
post #3 of 26
Generally in dealing with recovering alcoholics in terms of the restaurant and hotel context, my policy has been leave it completely out, no ifs ands or buts. Some warning that there is alcohol in any particular food should be given as I've heard that any slight amount could cause problems for the person. No amount of cooking will completely remove the alcohol content in a sauce or stew so it's really best to be careful.
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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post #4 of 26
As an ex-drunk, I would say it's completely up to the individual. For me, it's not a problem. In my pastry work, I use alcohol a lot and mostly it is not cooked off. The trace amounts are so small and insignificant that I'd probably get more of a "hit" off a shot of NyQuil. I am fairly certain that vanilla extract has a higher alcohol content than many of the liquors I use.

I would not adjust recipes on the off chance that an alcoholic would have a reaction to my food. As long as you've noted that it has booze in it, you're covered and the rest is up to the individual.
post #5 of 26
There are two very different issues here. One is the physiological effect of the alcohol; the other is the psychological effect.

Other posters have commented primarily on the former issue, which is fine.

As to the psychological, however, the matter is very personal. It depends on what sort of recovery approach one is taking, and how one thinks about one's current condition. For some, the explicit presence of alcohol is a very serious matter: it's as though the dish were saying, "hey, alcohol tastes great, and it can't be replaced, you need it," and for some people that is about the worst message to receive. One recovered alcoholic I know feels this way so strongly that he refuses to drink alcohol-free beer, e.g. O'Doul's. And there are lots of other ways people approach their recovery and stability.

Thus, if you ask me, it is simply not appropriate to make any decisions about this question yourself. Make your dishes the way you want to make them, and clearly label anything that has beer, wine, or spirits in it. If someone requests alcohol-free and you accept the request, avoid anything that you would in any remote way consider alcohol, in any quantity. Don't give advice or comment, such as, "well, all the alcohol cooks off anyway," which first of all isn't true, and second is quite likely not the point.

A great many recovering alcoholics think of their condition as a chronic disease that requires constant prophylactic treatment. If someone were allergic to strawberries or peanuts, you would not be thinking, "well, would just a little bit hurt?" From your point of view, treat alcohol precisely the same way. The rest is up to the customer, and is not your business.
post #6 of 26
Not to mention some peoples invisible sky god requires they don't drink alcohol or bad things happen to them.

Label it clearly.
post #7 of 26
Another issue can be hepatitis. My Dad got it from a blood transfusion during surgery and he can't have even a trace of alcohol.
post #8 of 26
If you go to AA they tell you :NO alcohol on the premise whatsoever. why tempt fate?
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post #9 of 26
Thread Starter 
That is precisly why I asked my question. I do include all of my ingredients (except for lumping spices and herbs if there are quite a few) but b/c I have no personal experience to draw from I would never want to mislead anyone by giving them incorrect information.

So far I have always said I do not know the answer to that question and left it up to the customer but as I stated I just wanted to see if there was any additional knowledge for me to guide them in their decission. I have a number of food sensitivites as well as allergies myself so I DO know how crutial full disclosure is. But as you all have pointed out this is not one question I should be involved in helping my customers decide. Advice noted and taken and as I suspected, continue to err on the side of caution.

As a humourous aside I once had an aquaintance tell me there were no nuts in the cookies, just peanut butter -- I swear, I am not kidding -- so I also know the degree of ignorance or lack of thought process that many consumers have.

doodle
Life is too short to eat bad food!
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Life is too short to eat bad food!
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post #10 of 26
following up on what Bubba mentioned...

once upon a time I was prescribed some super duper antibiotic - the name of which I've long forgotten.

but I was cautioned that any trace of alcohol would make me violently ill - and the Dr. specifically mentioned stuff like wine sauces and fermented foodstuffs.

alcohol does not 100% 'cook out' under the usual and customary circumstances. and for example alcohol free beer is actually not 0% - it's like transfats and calories, less than x per serving = zero, for labeling purposes.

I would think some "indication" of an alcohol ingredient is wise.
post #11 of 26
Well, technically a peanut isn't really a nut... it's a legume ;)
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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post #12 of 26
For what it is worth, a peanut is actually a legume, not a tree nut. However, for people allergic to tree nuts, most authorities recommend staying away from peanuts as well.
Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #13 of 26
Ah !!!! Nuts!!.............:D
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post #14 of 26
Thread Starter 
OK OK you're right, I forgot how specific I should have been, sorry :p but this forum is far more aware of this fact than the "average" person and I have found that most people group peanuts in the same category as "nuts"

trust me this individual did not answer that way because she knew the technicallity about tree nuts vs legumes - I could smell peanuts in the room and asked her if she had used any in her cookies, you had to be there - :lol:

you see I am deathly allergic to peanuts, even the smell can require me to use my epi pen from time to time - but the point I was getting at was that I do understand how the slightest amount of an ingregient that one is sensitive to can be a terrible thing

doodle
Life is too short to eat bad food!
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Life is too short to eat bad food!
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post #15 of 26
This is a really excellent question and something I think anyone who cooks should be aware of... one of the previous posters mentioned the physiological effects vs. the psychological... and yes, they are two different things. Here is the basic facts:

Physiologically: Some (not many) people who are recovering alcoholics actually have a physical withdrawl response from detoxification, and in some rare instances that process can even be fatal. (that is very rare though)... But for people who had a physical addiction to alcolhol, even slight amounts, even if they cannot taste it, can effect their body chemistry.

Psychologically: This really only has to do with flavor... If a recovering alcoholic can "taste" the alcohol it can put their mind in a relapse state that may make them crave more... Again there isn't an absolute for this, but I do know some people who taste aged pizza crust (with that slight beerish flavor) that usually crave/want a beer or something alcoholic afterward... I find that cooking with wine is usually a little less risky for this side of things because typically the wine's flavor blends well with the dish you are making, however, just remember that for this type of recovering alchoholic even the slightest taste and instigate a relapse.

On the flip side... If you make your ingredients known, then you shouldn't have to worry about your concience... Most recovering alchoholics who are serious about their recovery are very very aware of what they eat, and will avoid foods with such ingredients. (In fact in most recovery programs diet is part of the program!)

Hope this helps...
post #16 of 26
One thing that has been said a couple of times, but is well worth repeating is the fact that not all alcohol is eliminated through the cooking process. There will always be some left behind.

From a CYA (cover your A**) standpoint, if you are listing your ingredients on the package I would list the alcohol (ie beer, wine, vodka, etc.) just like you would list peanuts, onions, wheat, eggs, etc. If you don't someone is going to come along sue you someday because they didn't bother to ask, it wasn't on the label, and they got sick. Sad as it is, people here can't and won't take responsibility for themselves so you need to protect yourself. In my opinion, if you can't have something either because of allergies, religious reasons, moral reasons or medical reasons then it is your responsibility to ask and make sure you don't end up with those taboo items. As for people asking you about the effects of food containing alcohol your best response would be to let them know that all individuals in recovery are different, all the dishes use alcohol in different ways and it gets cooked out to varying degrees, though never completely cooked out, and if they are at all concerned then they should find an alternative or offer to produce the item without the booze
post #17 of 26
I hope this is still felt to be on topic.

As I've seen this discussed here once or twice, can I ask what the alternatives might be from the chef's point of view? Is it reasonable to start looking in the direction of grape juices, apple juice that kind of thing when wine or cider for example are suggested ingredients? Is there an established understanding of what workarounds exist to cover a variety of commonly met challenges.
post #18 of 26

cooking and alcohol

For substitutions I would look for a salt/sugar/acid balance and depth of flavor. Perhaps stock+wine vinegar+gastrique, a touch of Vegemite, a dash of Nuoc Mam? Something to give complexity of body with a slight acidity. Would there be anything to exactly replicate let's say the Burgundy in Coq au Vin? I wouldn't think so but you could bring elements that the wine gives with acceptable results.
post #19 of 26
For me, the bottom line is that if someone takes the time to present themselves with a problem with a certain ingredient (whether imagined or not), One should respect the fact that they respect you as a chef enough to tell you this, rather than spit the meal and then have a moan and a whine and try to score a free meal.

I have to admit, that with alcoholics, that Im rather curious with reactions to vinegars and soys. Not so much with regards to what the end product is, as to the processes involved in making these products (the science of the process).

But anyway.
"Nothing quite like the feeling of something newl"
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post #20 of 26
Thanks chefjohnpaul. :)
post #21 of 26

I appreciate your comment. What you said was well appreciated.. You shared with great compassion and concern regarding the minimization of alcoholism struggles. I am glad that you were considerate ebough to pause and address this serious situation. I am wanting to learn how to cook healthy meals with flavor but I am not willing to jeoprdize my 17 years of sobriety for anything. Thank you so much. I am ever so grateful for your comment. Be blessed, peace love and joy

post #22 of 26

Cooks and alcohol  !!!!!When I started in this business a lot of the chefs used to drink in their offices,like fish In fact many could not cook if sober .Many of the cooks used to drink the cooking wines stored under the table of the line. It got to a point where a lot of places used to salt the bottles of wine before giving to the kitchen. Everyone knew it was salted so when they were cooking did not add much or any salt to the food. The chef did not drink the cooking  wine he usually had better.  Today however  drugs replaced alcohol, they can't salt that.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #23 of 26

My late brother in law was a recovering alcoholic and I wouldn't ever use alcohol  in any dish I brought to family get togethers out of respect for him.  I didn't know how it would affect him in his recovery so I always made sure I brought something that didn't contain any just to be on the safe side.  A former neighbour of ours  was also a recovering alcoholic and I made sure that anything I brought over or gave to them had no alcohol in it, just out of respect to her. 

 

On the topic of drunk cooks... we had a cook work for us who wasn't the best at all when he was sober but if he was even slightly tipsy he did pretty well.  I don't know how they can work like that... I would be off in a corner napping if I had any drink in me at all at work. 

OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
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OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
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post #24 of 26

Why would you think that by leaving out the alcohol that, the food might be "bad tasting!?!"  I feel that, the more important issue for is that, "NO ONE!" has an ill-affect from eating your cooking due too, something you used??????  That, should be your main concern!  If, wine or, spirits has to be left out of a dish then, consider they have already eaten this dish without the wine or, spirits in it!

post #25 of 26

I just want to put my foot in the door here... what about the supermarmarket so-called  "non-alcoholic" wines.  They have flavour, to a certain extent, as do the "non-alcoholic" beers on the the market.

 

Question:  Is this going to be an issue to said discussion?  I know that most aslcohol is cooked off through the cooking process.  Would using the "non-alcoholic" wines cook off to the same degree?

 

As far as I know, any amount of alcohol to a recovering alcoholic is not a good thing and can set them back.  I truly think that if you are aware aware that someone you are cooking for has in issue, I would just leave it out.  Use sauces,juices, spices - worcestershire, soy, tabasco, lemon, lime, paprika, oregano, mint, rosemary, thyme,: the list is endless.  Alcohol in cooking is not the be all and end all.  Make your dishes shine in other directions :)

 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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post #26 of 26

You could just make two versions of your dishes.. One with, and one without alcohol. Then people can choose for them selves. - Just an idea.

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