A reader asked the VineSleuth about wine for cooking:
Hi, I’ve been cooking for years but have never really cooked with wine. I would like to buy good, less expensive (hopefully less than $10) white and red wines that I can keep on hand to cook with. I have a limited knowledge of wines and get overwhelmed when I go to the store. I want to explore new recipes and many call for wine. I think I wouldn’t be intimidated by them if I had a mixed case in the pantry.
Would you please make a recommendation. Thanks so much!
To answer Dawn’s question, I consulted Certified Wine Educator Michael Schaefer to see what he would advise about wines for cooking.
In cooking with wine, Michael suggests a bag-in-box type of wine, as its closure will keep it from oxidizing (getting destroyed by coming in contact with air for too long) and enable you to keep the wine in your refrigerator, using it as you need it, for a much longer time than a wine closed with a cork or a screwtop.
His exception to this would be if you are adding a small amount of wine at the end of a recipe when the wine is not likely to be reduced and a fuller flavor of the wine will remain in the dish. If that is the case, he suggests you use the wine you will be serving with the meal.
Other than than that, Michael suggests going with a red that is not overly tannic. He suggests Carlo Rossi Cabernet Sauvignon, which should be pretty easy to find, or something along those lines. He cautions against going with an overly tannic Cabernet Sauvignon, though, but said this one would do well.
For recipes calling for a white wine, he still suggests using a boxed white, preferably an unoaked Chardonnay, if at all possible. An oaked one will be fine if you cannot find an unoaked, so don’t worry about that too much.
He explains that in both cases, you want the fruit to be more prominent in the wine than the tannins or wood, as the fruit will be minimized as the wine reduces during cooking. Starting with a wine with low tannins in the case of red, or unoaked, in the case of white, will make a better dish.
Boxed wines may or may not be your favorite wines for drinking, (there are some great ones out there) but they seem to be the best to keep on hand for regular cooking. Here are seven reasons why I like box wine.
So there you have it, Dawn. Go pick up some inexpensive boxed wine to keep on hand and cook away!
What wines do YOU use for cooking? Tell us in the comments. (You can even tell us the ones you enjoy drinking while you cook, too.)
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Do you have any wine related questions? Shoot me an email at amy (dot) g (at) vinesleuth (dot) com or leave your question in the comments and I’ll do my best to share the answer in an upcoming Ask the VineSleuth post. I’m here to help!