Experienced cooks will laugh at me when I reveal that I have only recently discovered the reason for and method of including alcohol in certain things.
But amateur cooks will appreciate it so everyone else can just take a long cool drink of shut the hell up.
I've always chucked a glass of red wine here or there into things that seem like they might benefit from it (stews, bologneses etc) but I now see I've been putting it in way too late.
The thing to do, I now see, is to add the alcohol at a much earlier stage and let it reduce until the alcohol has burned off and you're left with a kind of sticky and rich saucy thing. I've been doing this with a lot of things recently and it really works and helps a lot.
So, for example, if you're making a bolognese-type-thing, add a large glass of red wine to your mince after it has done its browning and let it bubble for a few minutes - (try not to wander off at this stage - the doorbell will only be a young offender selling J-Cloths anyway and you don't need to be distracted by his handsome young rascally ways) - until it fizzles down to a faintly glossy halo around your beef. Then continue as normal, add your sauteed onions and whatever other veg you're using. You'll find the wine adds a real richness and darkness to it that you won't get from throwing it in after you've added chopped tomatoes, as I've been doing, like a complete penis.
In stews, you can do the same thing, although I tend to add the booze, (you can use beer), to the sauteed vegetables, rather than to the meat. Don't know why, it's just a gut feeling. And the Lord knows I didn't get here without listening to my gut. *burp*