ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Cooking Discussions › Food & Cooking › Cooking With Wine: What do you use?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Cooking With Wine: What do you use?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
This morning, at the suggestion of a friend, I read this article: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/21/dining/21cook.html?_r=1

I sometimes cook with wine using it in some spaghetti sauces and braising, and when I do my choice is generally Trader Joe's Two-Buck Chuck Merlot.  I've made a lot of dishes with more expensive wines, some of which was left over from some dinner or event and saved until it could be used for cooking, and y'know what, I can't really tell the difference between the expensive wine and TJ's  wine when the dish is finished and served.

FWIW, last year I was lucky enough to watch a noted local chef make a lamb dish which she braised in red wine.  She used two different wines, one which was pretty good quality and another which was a $5.00 bottle of plonk.  Everyone at the dinner afterwards enjoyed the dish and no one thought the wine mixture or the cheap wine adversely affected the results.

So, what's your opinion about the article, what wine do you use when cooking, have you run any comparisons, and has this article changed your approach to using wine when cooking?
Schmoozer
Reply
Schmoozer
Reply
post #2 of 9
Pick a subject and it's easy to find a Julia Child quote to justify any thesis.

So, while she probably did say what the article claims, she also is on record as saying: "I love cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food."

And that, I believe, is part of the equation often left out. It really is good advice to only cook with a wine that you'd drink. But what is meant by that is often not examined.

One of the differences between now and years ago is that price was often an indicator of quality. If you wanted a good wine, a wine "worth drinking," you had to pay for the priviledge. That's no longer true. There are an incredible number of good wines, now, for less that ten bucks. Even some good ones less than five. In short, it's hard to find a truly bad wine anymore.

So, it's not like we're talking about Ripple or Thunderbird. For instance, we're not big wine drinkers here. I usually enjoy a glass with dinner. Friend Wife only drinks it on special occasions. So, my day-to-day table wines are a chardonnay and a cabernet sauvegnon. Both happen to be Robert Mondavi private selections. Both are affordible. Both taste good.

So, given their pricetags, why should I bother keeping an "inferior" wine around just for cooking? I drink these, and I cook with them as well.

So, the question isn't whether TJ's merlot is good for cooking. To me the question is, would you also use it as a table wine. If so, we have no argument. But if you wouldn't drink it, then I would argue that it's the wrong wine for your kitchen.

The exception to this are so-called cooking wines. They are loaded up with salt and other additives, precisely so they are not drinkable. Problem is, when you use them you can easily change the flavor profile of the dish.

Another aspect are the many people who don't drink wine, period. For them the "only cook with a wine you'd drink" is a meaningless term. For them, keeping an affordible white and an affordible red is the solution, because the one aspect of the article that's true is that the suble flavors that distinguish one wine from another often are lost in cooking, and only the taste of grape remains.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
post #3 of 9
I have a friend who used to run the family vineyard of brunello di montalcino - one of the most expensive wines here in italy.  I was their guest once in their vacation house in the mountains and we went to buy food together.  They picked up a small three-pack of "Tavernello", which is cheeeaaaapp italian white wine, sold in cardboard cartons like juice boxes (they sell by the liter and by the small 1/4 liter three-pack).   I looked at them funny and the wife said, "my husband's vineyard has only red wine, not white, and i need white for cooking.  No point buying a bottle of white wine when we don;t even drink the fancy wine we sell."   (In fact they were pretty indifferent to wine and always forgot to put it out - which is what i tend to do too, since i couldn't really care less about wine.)

Anyway, i thought that was a great idea because a small 1/4 liter container is perfect, and really, I can;t tell the difference in cooking.  And for someone like us, who will leave the half finished wine bottle after a dinner with friends in the fridge till it turns to vinegar and never even think to drink it, what are we doing cooking with good wine?

If I only cooked with wine that I drink, i would never cook with wine!

Now, beer is another story. 

Anyway, julia child had a good idea: to have a bottle of dry vermouth on hand, since it doesn;t go bad and you can use it for cooking. 
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KYHeirloomer View Post

One of the differences between now and years ago is that price was often an indicator of quality. If you wanted a good wine, a wine "worth drinking," you had to pay for the priviledge. That's no longer true. There are an incredible number of good wines, now, for less that ten bucks. Even some good ones less than five. In short, it's hard to find a truly bad wine anymore.
[...]
So, the question isn't whether TJ's merlot is good for cooking. To me the question is, would you also use it as a table wine. If so, we have no argument. But if you wouldn't drink it, then I would argue that it's the wrong wine for your kitchen.
 

You're absolutely correct about wine pricing and quality.  There are many acceptable, and some very good, wines available at what might be considered bargain prices - certainly fine for everyday quaffing and even good enough to grace the table at a Saturday night dinner.

I don't drink much wine these days, but I've no issue with TJ's $2.00 Merlot as a good enough wine for a daily glass or two.  It ain't a Heitz Martha's Vineyard, but it's not plonk either.
Schmoozer
Reply
Schmoozer
Reply
post #5 of 9
If I'm using white... it white dry vermouth; not a white wine.  I've found that I don't use it often enough to not let it spoil in the fridge.   Vermouth has a great flavor and I can keep it on the counter at room temperature which works better for cooking infusions.  

If I'm using red, it's whatever I'm drinking.. Valpolicella, Sangiovese or Dolcetto d'Alba.   Any choice is a nice bodied red.   If I run short for cooking or drinking... I just open another bottle
post #6 of 9
I don't drink white wine often at all, pretty much never but I do cook with it so I buy the box and keep it in the fridge and if I still have the same box after 6 weeks I toss what is left. I don't buy the big 3 quart or whatever size it is but I can get smaller boxes that do not take up much room. I am probably committing a foodie sin here but I will go ahead and admit it.
post #7 of 9
I cook with cheap white/red wine at work and at home, always have done and always will.

Expensive wine is sold and drank by the glass or bottle in a restaurant/bar - and in the kitchen wine is delivered by the case load. 

 
we're as good as our last meal.
Reply
we're as good as our last meal.
Reply
post #8 of 9
I have another story and that is to use the best wine for cooking and not the wine you would not drink. We are lucky here, we can find good wine at a good price. However the results are different using cheap versus expensive wine. Maybe we should rephrase it. We usually use red wine for cooking. We use it for bolognese sauce (aka ragou) or other kind of meat. We use vinsanto for white meat.
What is wine contribution to taste?. Red brings parfumes, and color. White parfumes.Parfumes are important and a wine fully bodied with good charge of parfumes would contribute to the final result. So why not using your best wines to get the best parfumes added to your recipe?. If a cheap wine costs 1/10 of a good wine but contributes poorly, why not using the best wine which would enhance your sauce or main course. Also cheap wines usually are carrying acidity and that can change what you are aiming. Our neighbor uses brunello for bolognese, and then serves same wine with it. Each calls for the other and the pairing is perfect. We were able to tell the difference and we have started using good wines for our recepies. Now we have an IGT from Montalcino made with same grapes and barriqued. It changes really the final result.
post #9 of 9
 Just a quick question about cooking with wines. I know that when you first open it you need to let it oxidize a bit to help it develop it's full flavour. When cooking with it is it necessary for that or can it be used immediately
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Food & Cooking
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Cooking Discussions › Food & Cooking › Cooking With Wine: What do you use?