General Question

Cupcake's avatar

Do fancy restaurants use alcohol in pasta dishes?

Asked by Cupcake (15570points) April 20th, 2012

I never drink/cook with alcohol, and don’t eat at “fancy” restaurants. I just pre-ordered a pasta dish for a work dinner and am wondering about the chances of it being prepared with alcohol.

I don’t know what the pasta dish will be… just “pasta dish with vegetables”.

Responses like “just ask” and “it’ll cook off” are not helpful.


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20 Answers

thorninmud's avatar

Some sauces may have a slosh of wine. If veggies are the star ingredient, though, that’s unlikely.

Cupcake's avatar

Thanks @thorninmud. Why more likely with meat? Deglazing the pan??

Qingu's avatar

Even vegetable pasta dishes like primavera often use white wine.

Some red sauces use red wine, too.

thorninmud's avatar

Yep, deglazing. Qingu’s right that this is not an absolute by any means.

JLeslie's avatar

Possibly. Depends on the dish. If it is a concern you should state you want a dish prepared without alcohol. For recovering alcoholics some of them will not eat anything with alcohol, even if it is “cooked off” as you mentioned in your original post. So, if it is important be very specific with the restaurant.

wundayatta's avatar

Yes. They cook with alcohol. That does not mean there is any left in the dish by the time you eat it.

Keep_on_running's avatar

None of us here can know for sure what’s going to be in your pasta dish, can you ask the chef about it? There is really no other answer to your question, because it’s all just speculating.

nikipedia's avatar

Sorry if this is obnoxious, but why can’t you ask the restaurant/caterer? It is very possible it is cooked with alcohol, but unless the name of the dish is, for instance, “penne in vodka sauce,” I don’t see any other way to know for certain? I am not even a fancy restaurant, but pretty much any time I cook with tomatoes I add some wine—I have no idea if this is true, but someone once told me there are things in tomatoes that are alcohol-soluble, so that’s the best way to get all the flavors to come out.

Thammuz's avatar

Usually not with vegetables. If there is meat it could probably be cooked with a slpash of winei n the mix, but that’s it. Assuming it’s an Italian cook, that is.

gambitking's avatar

Marsala wine sauce is one of the most common additives to pasta and lean meat dishes at Italian restaurants… fancy or not

Soooo…. yep

Cupcake's avatar

@Keep_on_running and @nikipedia Obviously you cannot know the specifics about my dish… I am looking for approximate odds here. If contacting the restaurant/caterer was a possibility, I would not have asked the question.

Thanks everyone!

Interesting mix of responses between “not with vegetables” and “yes”.

marinelife's avatar

It could. Usually wine. Why can’t you ask or specify on your order that no alcohol is to be used?

john65pennington's avatar

Even if some form of alcohol were used in preparing a meal, most of the alcohol would evaporate by the heat used to cook the meal. Only the taste of alcohol would remain, especially if wine is used.

Note:if alcohol were added at the end of preparing the meal, then the alcohol would maintaiin its orginal strength and taste.

I know of no foods that are prepared this way on purpose. If so, they would be selling alcohol to children.

SmashTheState's avatar

All fruits and vegetables contain ethanol in varying quantities as a breakdown product of fruit sugars. It’s admirable that you are concerned about serving alcohol to someone who may be a recovering alcoholic or have religious dietary restrictions, but the amount of alcohol you’re likely to get in a pasta dish is probably going to be less than that in a medium-sized apple. If the concern is large enough, state specifically that either no wine or de-alcoholized wine is to be used.

GladysMensch's avatar

Is this a hypothetical question, or is this really a problem for you? If it’s really an issue, and you want to eliminate the possibility of alcohol, then I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to contact the restaurant. If this is a hypothetical, then I must ask: Really? Will a random pasta dish ordered from a random “fancy” restaurant contain alcohol? I don’t know. How many cats live in that house down the street? And don’t tell me to “go look” or “ask the homeowner”, because that’s not helpful.

Sunny2's avatar

Before you order, ask the waitperson if the dish contains alcohol. If ze doesn’t know, ze will ask. That’s the only way to be absolutely sure. Same with desserts. Many contain alcohol and you can’t tell from the name of the dish.
(I love using ze for s/he. Hope it catches on)

Ponderer983's avatar

Not for nothing here peeps, but we are forgetting that the actual pasta dough can be made with alcohol in it. I’ve had ones made with a touch of white wine or vodka. There is no way to know without asking (and you’ve stated you can’t), so the only thing to do is always make your own food. And by the way, it’s not just “fancy” restaurants, as you put it, that use alcohol in their pasta dishes.

downtide's avatar

Some places will use alcohol in the sauce and some won’t. The only way to know is to ask. If asking is not possible, and you do not want to eat food that has the possibility of having alcohol in it, you will have to simply stop eating pasta in any restaurant.

Cupcake's avatar

I’m just going to clear up a couple of things before I unfollow this question.

I never cook with alcohol. My family does not cook with alcohol. My friends do not cook with alcohol.

I’ve never worked in a restaurant.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that other people and restaurants cook with alcohol. This was a mind-blowing revelation.

I literally did not know that pasta dishes were prepared with alcohol (or other dishes, for that matter). Unless the description named some wine… I would be blissfully unaware that alcohol was in any dish.

I am not a recovering alcoholic. I am breastfeeding and also adhere to religious teachings to not drink alcohol, but I don’t have a moral or health reason for avoiding every drop of alcohol ever (other than the fact that I sometimes get sick afterward and I don’t like the taste).

So to the people who explained to me that alcohol is indeed used in restaurant dishes (even though it is not mentioned in the description), I thank you. I did not know.

To the rest of you, perhaps I should have worded my question differently.

wundayatta's avatar

Just so you know, when alcohol is used in the cooking of a dish, there is almost never any alcohol left in the dish that is served. It all gets converted to something else in the cooking process. So much so that you can be positive there was no alcohol in any cooked dish you ate.

Of course, if you cook meat over a grill, cancer-causing materials end up there that weren’t in the meat before. There are chemical changes that happen to food when you apply heat. Some might eliminate harmful things and other chemical reactions might create undesirable things in our food.

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