Does Cooking Burn Off Alcohol? Lab tests reviewed.

Wine is used in many dishes to add flavour, deglaze pans and add a richness to sauces. We think that the alcohol is burnt off in the cooking process but is it actually?

Does cooking burn off alcohol? I’m going to look at the evidence and investigate if alcohol free wines are a good alternative for cooking.

Most cooking processes don’t fully burn off the alcohol added. Only 25% of alcohol is burned off in a flambé. Baking a dish for an hour removes 75% and 95% is removed in 2 hours. Depending on the amount of alcohol added this may leave a significant amount, especially for religious requirements.

Does cooking burn off the alcohol from wine?

Lots of recipes use wine in the main dish, in the sauce or deglaze. Spirits can be used to flambé at the table. Conventional wisdom is that any alcohol used will be burnt off in whatever the cooking process is.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Nutrient Data Laboratory undertook a study to look exactly at how long it does take to burn off alcohol in cooking and what is removed for the various techniques used currently.

The Nutrient Data Lab had some interesting findings. It can take longer than 2.5hrs of cooking/baking to remove all the alcohol, which has been add, to a dish.

5% of alcohol remains after 2hrs, 30% after 1hr cooking and the dramatic flambé only gets rid of 25% of alcohol!

Cooking techniqueAlcohol % remaining
Cooking for >2.5hrs0%
Cooking for 2hrs5%
Cooking for 1hr25%
Cooking/simmering for 15mins40%
Flambé once flames die down75%
Alcohol remaining after cooking

How much alcohol is left over post cooking?

I suppose your next question is, if some alcohol is burnt off, how much is left and why should i care? If you are avoiding alcohol for any reason, then you’d want to know what alcohol is left.

This may be for religious reasons, medical reasons or giving the finished food to your young children.

If we take 2 glasses of wine as example. At 12% ABV and 5 fl oz each glass, that would represent 2 Standard Drinks in America.

If you are worried about the amount of drinks you can have and drive, I’ve researched a blog looking at alcohol and alcohol free limits when driving.

Cooking techniqueAlcohol % remainingEquivalent % ABV remaining from 2 glasses of wine
Cooking for >2.5hrs0%0% ABV
Cooking for 2hrs5%0.6% ABV
Cooking for 1hr25%3% ABV
Cooking/simmering for 15mins40%4.8% ABV
Cooking and ABV of wine remaining

As you can see from the table above, if you are cooking a dish for 2 or more hours, most of the alcohol is burnt off.

If however you add 2 glasses of wine and only do a quick simmer, the equivalent left over alcohol ABV is around a can of beer in the dish. If you are giving this entire dish to a you child or 2 children then this may represent more than you want.

Certainly if you are abstaining from alcohol for medical or religious reasons then this will likely be more alcohol that you want to ingest.

Do the antioxidants survive cooking?

Wine has some particular antioxidants called polyphenols. In particular, one called resveratrol, has lots of heart benefits. Ive written a separate blog on the benefits of wine from resveratrol, including cutting coronary artery disease by 30%+

You ideally want the antioxidants to remain as you cook off the alcohol and the good news is they do!

It turns out they are pretty heat stable and most make it through the cooking process. The lower the temp the better for them and the less cooking time the better.

Can you cook with alcohol free wine?

Alcohol free wine is made from grapes that have been fermented just like alcoholic wine but then the alcohol is removed by vacuum distillation or filtration.

This means that it is basically the same wine sans alcohol. As such if you want to cook with it you get the same flavourings but with the alcohol starting at 0.0% meaning there is none to get burned off and you always end up with 0.0% alcohol in the finished dish.

As we found out above, the beneficial resveratrol antioxidant, is heat stable and makes it through the cooking process.

This means that alcohol free wine will provide you with all the flavours of wine and the health benefits but with no retained alcohol in the finished dish.

Is cooking with wine Halal?

Observant Muslims must not drink alcoholic drinks, these are considered Haram. Are the new breed of non alcoholic drinks allowed under Islamic Law?

As a general rule, cooking with non alcoholic wines, labelled as “alcohol free” can be Halal. The wine needs to be 0.0% ABV for the strict Islamic Law to deem it Halal. Certain wine brands have gone as far as to get specific Halal Certifications. The cooking process alone will probably not remove all the alcohol from regular wine to allow it to become Halal.

I have dedicated a full blog to Halal wine, its a complex issue with Halal Certified products and well worth a separate read.

I am clearly not an Islamic Scholar but from my research, i think it would still be Haram to cook with alcoholic wine given the risk you will not cook off all the alcohol as i have shown.

The best plan is to start with a completely alcohol free wine to begin with. It can be considered Halal as they have 0.0% alcohol. Indeed, some vineyards have gone as far as to get Halal Certification that their wine really does contain 0.0% alcohol.

How Halal wine is made

The above video shows how a Halal wine is made. It can then be drank or used in cooking to stick to the recipe and have the same delicious meal at the end.

How to check your wine is halal for cooking

The most sure fire way to make sure you are using a Halal wine is to fine one with a ready made Halal Certification.

Pierre Zero from Pierre Chavin is one of the market leaders in alcohol free wine. It provides a full range of exclusively alcohol free red, white and sparkling wines along with a prestige merlot and chardonnay.

These are wines that have undergone fermentation and ageing like their regular counterparts. Before they are bottled the undergo an additional process to remove the alcohol. 

The Pierre Chavin Zero range has a Halal certification which can be viewed here. The London Central Mosque also issued a Fatwa proclaiming the sale and resale of this range as Halal.

Outside of this, the wine needs to be labelled “alcohol free” AND display 0.0% ABV either on the bottle or on their website/product literature.

There are lots of terms in the low and no alcohol world that can be confusing and they all have specific meaning.

Low alcohol wine has an alcohol by content percentage of 1.2% ABV or below. Dealcoholised wine is wine that has went through the fermentation process and then had the alcohol extracted either by vacuum distillation or filtration.

Dealcoholised wine must not contain more than 0.5% ABV.

Description on labelMaximum ABV content
Low alcohol1.2%
Alcohol free0.0%
Legal alcohol content

Caveat Emptor

Buyer beware as they say. From my research it seems 0.0% alcohol free wine can be considered Halal but if you are in any way in doubt then you should follow your normal processes and discuss it with your local religious leader.

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