In both Eastern and Western cultures, incorporating alcohol into the kitchen is nothing new. People have experimented with red wine reductions for steak, beer battered fish, marinating chicken with rice wine, and more, and it’s been determined that alcohol brings the flavors of many proteins to higher levels. But there’s an actual science behind this and we’re here to tell you what that is.

Alcohol actually enhances the flavor of foods in two ways: it carries aromas from the plate to the nose and bonds fat and water molecules together. Although smell utilizes a different sense than taste, the perception of food and how it will taste is directly affected by smell. Alcohol also penetrates proteins better than other liquids, so when used as a marinating agent, it brings clarity to particular herbs and seasonings. Whether it’s wine, beer, whisky or sake, alcohol can be used during both food preparation and execution. For example, red wine reductions are often made to accompany a steak. After a steak is cooked, red wine is used to deglaze the pan, which helps capture the steak’s proteins that remain. These proteins contain a lot of rich and complex flavors and this sauce is used to enhance the overall taste of the steak.

Alcohol, when used in moderation, can add an extra layer of complexity to most dishes – both savory and sweet. So the next time you’re in the kitchen, experiment with your favorite libation and let us know your favorite ways of cooking with alcohol in the comments section below!

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