Some simple, straightforward ways that wine can punch up a meal:
1. Red wine left over from the night before? Use it for poaching eggs.
2. When steaming mussels, use 1/2 cup of good wine — red, white or especially bubbles.
3. Sparkling wine with a dash of butter might be the best method for steaming or poaching oysters quickly (no more than a minute).
4. Not all vegetables are meant for braising, but try the technique with red wine and root vegetables, such as turnips, parsnips and rutabagas (or all of them together).
5. The mushroom was made to be sautéed first in butter, then cooked with the addition of a little red or white wine, and possibly finished with a tiny bit of fortified wine.
6. Thanksgiving gravy brings out the perfectionist in all of us, and some Madeira or a hearty white can get us there.
7. For a simple roast, put down a layer of root vegetables, place the meat on top and pour 1/2 cup or so of fortified wine onto the meat, then 1/2 cup or so of water onto the vegetables to keep them moist. Later you will have the best gravy ever.
8. Even dessert is better with wine: Try peeled pears poached in simmering wine that has been infused with baking spices.