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Now You Can Drink Your Wine and Eat it Too!

Cabernet Sauvignon Wine Flour Pizza Dough

When I recently came across Finger Lakes Wine Flour on social media, I thought, “Wait, what?” which I’m sure is a common reaction to those not familiar with this product. After delving into information on the Sustainable Viticulture Systems Wine Flour web site, I became intrigued. I contacted the proprietor, Hilary Niver-Johnson, to request samples for testing. She promptly shipped an 8 oz. bag of Cabernet Sauvignon wine flour and an 8 oz. bag of Chardonnay wine flour along with some recipes to try.

Let’s tackle the obvious first: What is wine flour? It’s not flour made from grain but rather from the skins (80%) and seeds (20%) of grapes that wineries have already pressed for their juice. This pomace is sorted, separated, dried and milled into wine flour that is intended to act as a supplement instead of a substitute for recipes that call for flour.

Why would a professional or home chef want to incorporate wine flour into their recipes? There are several key reasons:

  • To impart flavor, color and complexity to your dishes. When you open a bag of wine flour, you can smell the rich essence of the particular grape varietal used in making the flour. While the flour adds beautiful color to doughs, dips, soups, gravies and more, it also adds an interesting level of complexity to food. The flavors are robust and, like wine tasting, you get different notes of the wine flour on the fore-palate than you do on the back of the palate. Food tasting just got taken up a few notches.
  • To add nutrients like antioxidants, vitamins & minerals (calcium, magnesium and potassium), protein and fiber to your diet. According to the company website, www.flxgrapeflour.com, each tablespoon of wine flour adds two grams of protein and three grams of fiber. This gluten-free product can be used as a supplement with both traditional and gluten-free flours.
  • To be innovative with your cooking while promoting sustainability. In three harvest seasons, Finger Lakes Wine Flour diverted approximately 60 tons of grape pomace from the waste stream and turned it into a unique nutritional food additive. Passive solar dehydration is utilized to process the grape pomace and virtually every aspect of operations is sensitive to sustainability. If this isn’t forward thinking, I don’t know what is.

Finger Lakes Wine Flour is available in 10 varieties: Riesling, Gewürtztraminer, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Blend, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Syrah. It is sold in 8 oz. resealable bags on etsy.com (link on Finger Lakes Wine Flour web site) as well as at a large number of retailers in the Finger Lakes region of New York state (which are also listed on the web site). Wholesale orders can also be placed on the Finger Lakes Wine Flour web site.

Things to know about wine flour use: wine flour is more water absorbing so take this into account when incorporating it into a recipe. Wine flour should be stored in a cool, dry, dark environment for the longest shelf life (up to 5 yrs).

We did two tests with Cabernet Sauvignon wine flour for pizza. The first was a homemade dough which was a little stiff and difficult to roll out. The ratio of wine flour to traditional flour is 1:16 or 1:8 depending on the recipe. The recipe provided suggested a range of 4-8 tbsp of wine flour for 32 tbsp (2 cups) of all-purpose flour. We were a little over-zealous and went with the 8 tbsp of wine flour which affected the flexibility of the dough. Our mistake!

We also used some of the Cabernet Sauvignon flour in the pizza sauce which gave it a whole new dimension. The wine flour gave the sauce some decent legs with incredible flavor. The dough was a vibrant purple and with the fresh mozzarella, basil and grape tomatoes, the pizza itself was a beautiful canvas.

Our second pizza test started with store-bought dough where we sprinkled the Cabernet Sauvignon wine flour onto the dough and folded it in before kneading and rolling it out. This technique worked beautifully! The dough had a nice, marbled color and there was a clear, rich, earthy aroma during baking. 

Next, we used Chardonnay wine flour to thicken the roux for our chicken pot pie stew. It did the trick while imparting a sweet aroma reminiscent of fresh grapes at the vineyard. We also used the Chardonnay flour as a supplement in the pie dough. I am a firm believer in giving pie dough flavor to make it taste more like a pastry. I hate seeing the ends of the crust left behind on a plate after the pie and filling have been consumed. Typically with fruit pies, I add a little sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg to the dough but any baker knows that pie dough can be tricky. Too many additives to the flour/butter/water mixture makes it difficult to roll out and hold together.

Although the golden color was beautiful, the wine flour dough was a bit tricky to work with. Getting the rolled out dough into the pie plate intact was a bit of a chore but the end result was well worth the effort. 

The crust was silky and decadent. The Chardonnay flour in the crust and the stew added a richness and complexity to the dish that was phenomenal. Perhaps next time I will use the wine flour either in smaller proportions in the overall dough or use it only in the top portion of the dough to make a lattice. The trial and error phase to get the proportions right will yield a recipe you'll hold onto forever. I am certain that from now on, I will only make chicken pot pie with Chardonnay wine flour. It’s my secret ingredient. Period.

I also used the Chardonnay wine flour to thicken Broccoli Cheddar soup. It added dimension as well as a deep Chardonnay flavor. Plus, the soup really packed a nutritious punch.

Lastly, I made meatballs comprised of ground beef and hot sausage with bread crumbs, chopped garlic, parsley and some Cabernet wine flour. Wine flour elevated the meatballs to a new level, making them a bold, complex and hearty addition to the sauce. Forget the pasta - we enjoyed these meatballs in a bowl with some crusty Tuscan bread.

Finger Lakes Wine Flour is an ideal way to enhance flavor and add color and nutrients to sweet and savory baked goods, soups, sauces, dips, gravies and just about anything you can concoct in the kitchen. It’s a great secret ingredient for home chefs but there is also huge potential for restaurateurs and commercial bakers to differentiate their businesses by incorporating wine flour in their recipes. Wouldn’t most customers want to check out the pizzeria with the purple dough and partake in its flavor, nutritive value and innovation? What about a bakery turning out purple scones and Riesling wedding cakes? It seems like a no-brainer that could put any food business on the map.

Lastly, we believe that environmental awareness and sustainability are critical but often under-valued initiatives. It’s our planet and we have to live here so let’s do what we can to take care of it. Kudos to all the entrepreneurial, innovative free thinkers like Finger Lakes Wine Flour’s founder, Hilary Niver-Johnson for making a difference. Thanks to her, we can drink our wine and eat it, too.

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