You’re finally home after a busy day at work. You want to take a bottle of your favorite vino out of the wine fridge and enjoy a couple of glasses with your significant other. You might even light some candles… but how safe is that? Can you set a glass of wine near an open flame?
Is wine flammable?
While spirits like rum, brandy, and cognac can easily be set on fire, the alcohol content in wine is just too low to be ignited. Most wines contain around 12% alcohol by volume which is well below the percentage that will burst into flames.
Now that I’ve assured you that wine won’t suddenly combust even if you set your glass near a lit candle, does that mean you’re in the clear? What about cooking wine? Is that something you should be concerned about?
Will Cooking Wine Catch Fire When It Hits the Pan?
If you’ve ever eaten at an upscale restaurant, you’ve probably caught a glimpse of the chef igniting the food in a sauté pan. This is a culinary technique called flambé. Flambé is a French word meaning “flaming” or “to flame”.
Will cooking wine ignite when you pour it into a pan?
Like other wines, the alcohol content in cooking wine is too low to catch fire under normal circumstances. Cooking wine averages around 16% alcohol by volume, which is higher than the wine most people drink, but it’s far below the 40% ABV recommended to flambé food.
Cooking with wine adds flavor and complexity to a variety of dishes. Be adventurous in the kitchen and don’t worry. Your cooking wine won’t ignite!
What Percentage of Alcohol Is Flammable?
If you’ve ever been at a restaurant and witnessed a gourmet dessert like Bananas Foster ignited while patrons look on with great amusement, you know how exciting it can be to have a dish flambéed served at your table.
Liquor that contains 40% ABV will catch fire if heated to about 79°F (26°C). Spirits like brandy, cognac, or rum are all popular with chefs for setting food ablaze!
If you’re evaluating whether a specific type of liquor can be used to flambé, there are two factors you need to be aware of. You need to know the spirit’s flashpoint and the percentage of alcohol it contains.
Flashpoint is the minimum temperature a liquid must achieve to ignite. Alcohol content is measured as a percentage of total volume. According to the University of California San Diego, only liquids with a flash point lower than 100°F are considered flammable.
Wine is not flammable. The flashpoint of wine is 126°F (52°C) and most wines are around 12% ABV so they’re no where near the danger zone!
Learn to Flambé Like Chef Michael Smith
I hope this article has put your mind at ease. Wine isn’t flammable.
You can safely enjoy a glass of wine by candlelight or in front of a fireplace. You can use wine when you cook, and you don’t need to worry about your kitchen bursting into flames.
If all of this talk about wine and gourmet foods has inspired you to cook a gourmet dinner, maybe it’s time to close your web browser and head for the kitchen!
If you want even more inspiration, here’s a video of chef Michael Smith demonstrating how to flambé food like a pro.