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Wine in recipes?

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 

I hope this is okay section; it seemed the closest.  I am new to cooking and many, many recipes say to add 'white wine' or 'red wine' but they never say which kind.  Most of the recipes are for main course.


There are sweet and dry wines in both colors I think.  I will also need to research what labels and names are 'sweet' and 'red' or whatever because I cannot tell just by reading the hundreds of label names or trying to see inside the bottle.


I am afraid to cook with wine until I have some clue what bottles to reach for.  Recipes usually call for a cup or so ... and I guess I will have to drink the rest or make something else that uses it!


BTW, I am not going to abuse your time by asking questions without doing my homework but I have researched this question and all I find are links to discussions about drinking wine with the meal.  If there are any 'cooking' guidelines about it, I would sure appreciate it.

post #2 of 27

Here's just a few simple ideas: (I'm an expert in my own mind anyway, LOL.)


~ Don't ever use "cooking wine". Completely fictitious, no such real thing. Only use a wine that you would drink. It doesn't have to be expensive, just good enough that you would drink it on it's own. 

~ Use the same wine (same varietal) that you are drinking with the meal. If you will be drinking a pinot noir, use a pinot noir. That's not too tough. However, it doesn't have to be the same pinot noir. As an example, I'm not going to cook with a $98 bottle of juice; I will though, no questions asked, drink that bottle. 

~ Pick wines that will go with the profile you are looking for; smooth/creamy : chardonnay, clean/crisp : viognier; bold/full : cab-sauv, fruit/fresh : carménère.

~ Pick and drink what you like. Don't get into any ideal relationships because someone or some book tells you to. You're buying with your money, eating/drinking with your palate.

~ Find a local wine store (LWS) that has regular tastings (preferably free). Try as many wines as you like. Learn things about what you like. Remember what sucks. 

*~ Vocabulary: Quality Price Ratio (QPR): Wines that are inexpensive, but drink like they cost a lot. One of my current favorites is an $8 juice that drinks like $40. I buy it at a grocery store. 

post #3 of 27

Sometimes wines labeled "Table Wines" are good, middle-of-the-road choices for cooking.  If you live in an area that has a Trader Joe's, I will often use their Two Buck Chuck (a whopping $3 here in Nevada) to cook with and not feel guilty in the least.  More than once I have used nicer wines to cook with, once for a recipe that insisted getting a nice French red would make a difference in the slow-cooked beef dish, but no more.  Really, once wine is cooked all of the nuances are lost.  

If the recipe doesn't specify - if it just says white or red - then don't get sweet.  A basic Cabernet Sauvignon for red or Sauvignon Blanc for white is fine.

post #4 of 27

AHHHHHHH two buck chuck!!!!!!

post #5 of 27


Depending on where you reside, I would find a good wine shop and enquire when they hold tastings as they are usually gratis. Good suggestion mentioned by one of the Chefs online ... Totally agree, do NOT purchase " cooking wine " ...


Another point, a Latin American neighborhood Grocer, always has Miguel Torres reds or whites and these are fine cooking wines ... A dry wine is usually what is called for and thus, the options should be reasonably priced and young in age. You do not need an oak aged wine to cook with ... Usually whites are used for fish and seafood and reds for red meats. Poultry also for whites ...  Semi sweet or sweet wines are used in desserts predominately ...


A Cup Measurement is just that, use an excellent quality Measuring Cup, not a coffee mug ...


***   2 / 3 cup is equal to 180ML




post #6 of 27

There is only one(1) place acceptable for using 2-$-Chuck. That would be as a "holy wine" for church services, so that the clergy members don't become winos. 2-$-Chuck is not suitable for any discussion in any professional level food/wine conversation. I wouldn't use 2-$-Chuck as a gag grab-bag gift for the winos at the shelter. 

post #7 of 27


Chef Iceman,


Excellent advice. You are wine savvy ...


I too, cook with a specific appellation wine, and have a bottle of same grape variety or varieties ...




post #8 of 27


Chef Ross,


Have you had your lovely menu yet ? What are you wine pairing with those scrumptuous dishes ?




post #9 of 27

Ah, previous suggestion was deemed unfit for a professional-level food conversation.  Funny, because in the various restaurants I have worked in, the wine purchased in bulk expressly for cooking is truly no better than just what I recommended.

post #10 of 27

But Jellly, the "sin" was not in using it, it was in letting everyone else know that you use it! crazy.gif


IceMan, ok, you are among friends here, tell us what you REALLY think about inexpensive wine, don't hold back now...

Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
post #11 of 27

LOL. Hey ... I'm happy for you, Jelly. Use whatever you like. 


re: previous comment of mine ... 

~ Pick and drink what you like. Don't get into any ideal relationships because someone or some book tells you to. You're buying with your money, eating/drinking with your palate.

I gave "MY" opinion. Nobody has to follow it. Just because I feel that 2-$-Chuck is the most over-manipulated conglomeration of all the left-over unacceptable garbage wine-grapes of every other winery on the entire west coast of America; grapes turned down by every other wine maker including Gallo, Franzia and Delicato; that doesn't mean that You can't be very happy drinking and using 2-$-Chuck. 


I'm a big fan of inexpensive wines, both for drinking and cooking with. A wine I often suggest, that gets a beating just like the one I gave to 2$C, is YellowTail, from Australia. You can almost always find it on sale for $4-$5. I've made of number of posts about wines that I recommend. Please, go look if you like. Here though, are two(2) that I have in my rack right now:


Concannon Conservancy Crimson & Clover $7


Pascual Toso Malbec $10



Pete ... I have NO PROBLEMMO w/ "inexpensive wine".

post #12 of 27



Wine and food pairing is profoundly subjective, as we all are aware.


Iceman's Argentian Malbec is a lovely choice. I had also suggested a few in an earlier post called Malbecs

from Argentina however, unfortunately I only visit the USA once a year and so, I am not sure of exact cost at moment.


I am all for a fair price or on sale item or discounted wines, however, I do not drink nor cook with plonk ... I believe plonk is what you are calling chuck. Am I correct ?  


There are numerous fine wines from all over the globe at just prices, that one does not have to resort to plonk. Chile, for example has $10.00 Sauvignon Blancs, Spain has an array of above average whites that are sold in the U.S.A. for similar price points *  as well as Washington State and Oregon, and California. Reds from Spain have been receiving the grade of excellence in harvest for years, and are wonderful to cook with and sip through meals with.  


Yellow Tail is quite a popular white in The States, and last spring I had taste tested it. Nice. Australian wines are quite pricey in Europe however.


post #13 of 27

I think it is totally a matter of opinion, think less about what food you like and what kind of wine you like, the 2 together will be a perfect combination! Of course it does take a bit of thought and a lot of experimenting, but dont be too tentative, you really want those wine flavours to come through. I once travelled to Marget River wine region in west australian and brought back some fasntastic wines which I often cook with because the flavours are so subtle. My partner  and I recently went to a wine tasting course with something we found on (the above information is definitely only an exact copy of what we found out on the course, I had no idea about food and wine pairing before!) but apart from being a fun day (obviously near the end we werent sampling the wine but just drinking a lot of it!) I did learn a lot.


I have heard that an Argentinian Malbec is a lovely wine, will definitely have to give it a taste soon.

Edited by beginnerchef - 2/23/12 at 3:56am
post #14 of 27


Like song, art, men, women, beauty, taste, aromas; wine is subjective ... I normally cook with the wine, I am going to sip with what I am cooking ... If the product is of good quality, therefore the wine too, should be a quality brand. 


Thanks for post.

Margaux Cintrano.  


post #15 of 27

(this is a bit long...sorry)


I'm glad this post is here or I'd have had to start my own thread.


My situation isn't dissimilar and I feel like I have a reasonably good grasp on wines and flavours - I'm not sommelier or even connoisseur but I like wine and have experience with several and have about 300 bottles in the "cellar" I built out of a closet (fun story - took a regular closet, fully insulated it, put in wood flooring, vapour barrier paint, added a cooling unit and put on heavy solid core wood doors and now I have a small temperature controlled cellar). I'm an ill informed and uneducated collector, if anything. I've done a bit of wine traveling (Chateauneuf du Pape for our honeymoon, Okanagan Valley in BC, Canada - doesn't really count as it's where I'm from, and a trip to Napa last summer) and love wine but I'm not sure I have a very good grasp on selecting the best choices for cooking.


I know the age old "if you won't drink it, don't cook with it" and, naturally, follow that policy. I also don't want to cook regular meals with bottles of wine that cost $20+ (pretty much everything I have upstairs). Keep in mind that wine prices in BC are very high due to unfair taxing policies, but that's a different discussion. That same Pascual Toso Malbec for $10 mentioned earlier is probably $15 here. A bottle of Yellow Tail Shiraz is $13 here. That puts it into perspective, probably (considering when we pop down to WA, I often see Magnums at Target and Costco for $9). You don't even want to know what the wines taste like that cost under $10 here. 


Now, my slight deviation from the norm - my dad makes wine from kits and, quite frankly, they're pretty good if you get a good kit. They aren't going to replace any of the wines that I would prefer to drink regularly but I don't turn my nose up at them (unless he's using one of those $27 kits from the grocery store - those are gross). To put a bit of perspective on that aspect of things - they're at least as good as Yellow Tail (which isn't necessarily saying a lot, depending on your predilictions). 


As such, I'm going to get him to make me two kits - one white, one red. We will then bottle these in 375s so that I always have some wine on hand to cook with and so that I don't have to dig into the collection to make a stew or to add some nuance to a pasta sauce. Each kit yields about 30 bottles (750s) and will probably cost me about $50 - $75 + bottles (I have some empties on hand from a previous endeavour in this regard but will need several to make them all in 375s). All of this is fortunate timing as RJ Spagnols, one of the big wine kit companies is having their annual sale at their local warehouse next week so I can save 25% on everything. 


My dilemma at the moment is to figure out which white and which red I'd like to make. I'm not worried about the price as a higher price just means higher quality, which is fine. My question is more about varietal selection (all of that jabber above to ask what has already been asked in this thread). The reason why I need to ask this question is because I'm doing it in bulk, obviously.


I know that I can always grab something special when a recipe really is dictated by the wine that I choose, so we'll ignore that stuff for now - I'm talking about the "every day" choices. 


This website has two levels of quality that I'd be willing to try:




(the weeks refers to how long the kit brews for - letting them sit for a year+ then greatly improves their drinkability/taste...not surprisingly, it is wine after all)


I'm actually leaning towards two of the six week kits only because of my preference for the varietals as being relatively versatile:






I also like the idea of this one as I just love all things Rhone and those are classic Rhone varietals...but less certain of its versatility for every day usage in cooking.


For the whites, I'm kind of thinking of shying away from a Sauv Blanc because I think the acidity and tartness may make it slightly less versatile...but at the same time, it's far and away my wife's favourite wine and so something that we'd likely be drinking regularly. 


Another good Red would be:


I just love Spanish wine for its value and Temp/Grenache is so good.


As you can see, I've got a lot to choose from and am trying to figure out what is best. It's not a HUGE financial commitment but I don't want it to be wasteful or regret my choices later so I'm hoping that maybe some of you chef types with more knowledge of what will be most useful may chime in.


Thanks in advance!

post #16 of 27
A quick summary of the unedited stream of consciousness above:

If you had to buy one red and one white to have on hand for every day cooking purposes, what varietals/region would you choose and why? My concern is not cost, but style.

post #17 of 27

This is an old thread to be chiming in on, but I wanted to voice my disagreement with the canned "cook with what you drink" adage. For the most part, I consider that nothing but pretention wrapped up as expert advice. Many, many of the popular drinking wines are popular because they are ripe, ready to drink, low acidity wines that go down easy. That's not what I want in a cooking wine.


Adding wine to a recipe isn't just about adding flavor. Wine's most important role in a recipe is to provide the right amount of acid to the recipe to break down the fat in the recipe and release the flavor of the main ingredient, usually a meat. Acid and fat play an important role in balancing and complementing each other, and using a wine that doesn't have the appropriate amount of acid in it, as many, many popular drinking wines don't, can leave a sauce or marinade flat, and result in an unbalanced, fat forward, one dimensional dish.


I have found many cheap cooking wines that work better than most drinking wines. Choosing a wine for a recipe isn't as simple as "choosing what you drink" if you are really looking to put that recipe over the top. If that's all the more thought you are putting into choosing wine for a recipe, you might as well leave it out because you don't know why it's in there to begin with.


I think most people say to "choose what you drink" when choosing a cooking wine because they hear everyone else say it. You're not using wine for it's flavor most times, but rather what it does to bring out the flavor of the main ingredient.

Brandon O'Dell


Friend That Cooks Home Chef Service

O'Dell Restaurant Consulting



Brandon O'Dell


Friend That Cooks Home Chef Service

O'Dell Restaurant Consulting


post #18 of 27


post #19 of 27

Hello everyone,


Being from Europe (I Live in Amsterdam) the situation might be different for me.


I taste wines professionaly...


Iceman has a lot of great comments here, although when he goes into specifics, I read in amazement.

2 dollar local plonk is not done (I agree), but 4 dollar Australian plonk that has to be shipped half way across the globe is alright ?

There really is not much difference there. Shipping is expensive...


There is but one golden rule for using wine while cooking:

Do not EVER use that corked bottle in your food. The terrible taste of a corked wine will always service. If you taste it while drinking, you will taste it while eating, too.


Yet, a wine you have opened and not finished (always keep your opened bottle in the fridge, reds also !) will do perfectly for cooking, even when you forgot it a bit and the wine itself is over the hill.

That goes too for bottles you forgot in your cellar or climatized wine-closets -I live in an apartment on the first floor, so do not have a cellar- and is not that great to drink any more since it is too old, is tired, lacks in fruit or anything. Do not toss the wine away, it still works very well as a cooking wine.


I have found a lovely red wine in BIB [Bag in Box] which I aways keep handy in the fridge. It is a Gamay from a small Cave Coperative in the Ardèche, smack in the center of France.

Since Gamay is a grape variety that is called the little brother of the Pinot Noir, I would always use this wine for cooking and drinking, and ALWAYS drink the noblest of all grapes, the Pinot Noir.


For white I indeed use the cheapest wine I drink myself, which is at the moment an Aligoté from the northern Burgundy. But it can be anything, as long as it is not sweet.

Sweet wine, except for pattiserie, should be avoided as the plague in the kitchen.


There is a small problem nowadays, since we are treaded like kids by the food-maffia. In almost all our foods sugar is added, totally ridiculous and harmful usage: crystal sugar / granulated sugar is a huge enemy to the body, the best cancer friend ever.

Unfortunately, winemakers tend to be 'clever' as well, and use trickery in the vinification to keep a bit of sugar left in the wine. To make it sweeter, so we recognize the sweetness and will like the wine better. (Same goes for most oaked wines by the way; the public recognizes the oak - vanilla, toasted bread- and subconsciously the mind says we know it so we like it..).

They stop the process of yeasts eating the sugar and turning it into alcohol. That's dangerous, since the wine might ferment again on bottle and then you have a bottle which cork will pop out when you do not want it, OR the bottle might crack or explode.

But by doing so a little bit, the winemaker gives a little sweet touch to his 'dry' wine.

And does not mention that at all on the label or anywhere.

It is a bad practise, but one that huge numbers of winemakers world wide use.


Another trick to sweeten the wine is to add a bit of glycerine (glycerol) to it. That tastes sweet yet is no sugar, so the danger of a 2nd fermentation on bottle is gone.


As a firm believer in all-natural wines, meaning NOTHING gets added in the field nor in the cellar, unless a catastrophy is about to happen (no need to let an harvest go to waist, of course, no need for dogmatism), I am as much opposed to the latter practise as to the first.

I believe in all natural wines quite simply because wines taste better that way.

Kermit Lynch will have many wonderful wines for the USA, although legislation makes it imperative to add extra sulfites during bottling for wines that will go to the USA & Canada. Which is a pity. I have had tastings with the same wine that was bottled for Europe and Japan side by side with the same wine bottled for North-America, and without a doubt sulfites eats away / gnaws at the backbone, the character of a wine.


Lovely thread , would love to hear more from all you chefs !


Have a great weekend, all,

many greetings from cold but sunny Amsterdam,





BY THE WAY: when you open a bottle of fizzing wine and do not finish it, put it in the fridge and put a silver spoon in its neck. Do not close it with a vacuum pump or anything. That's bad for the wine. The silver spoon will take care of it to keep the bubbles in for 24 hours.

"We are all amateurs, since life is too short to become a professional" Charlie Chaplin


"We are all amateurs, since life is too short to become a professional" Charlie Chaplin

post #20 of 27

I'm fascinated by the "silver spoon" suggestion Wobelix, but I can't visualize how it would sit in there. Do you have a picture or a link to one?

Brandon O'Dell


Friend That Cooks Home Chef Service

O'Dell Restaurant Consulting



Brandon O'Dell


Friend That Cooks Home Chef Service

O'Dell Restaurant Consulting


post #21 of 27

First off, it's a trick question. 

At any party attended by 2 or more people, no champagne goes unfinished.



Gas dissolves better into liquid when the tempertaure of the liquid is lowered.  This is why people keep champagne cold after they open it.  Ergo, if you keep the liquid chilled, it will do a better job of keeping the carbon dioxide dissolved in the wine.  Of course as the wine is agitated, the gas comes out of solution and breaks the surface tension of the champagne.  Only so much carbon dioxide will fit in the little space between the cork and the top of the champagne which keeps the rest of the gas dissolved into the liquid.  The space between the cork and the liquid is, in essence, "full".  After you pull the cork, the champagne will stay bubbly longer if you keep it on ice or in the refrigerator.  With nothing prventing the escape of the gas above the liquid, however, the gas will eventually escape.  Champagne will stay sparkling for at least 24 hours if left open in the fridge - it's pretty good like that. 


This however, is like it being harder to prove that ghosts do not exist than to prove ghosts do exist.



On the other hand ...

myth: Stanford University News Service

post #22 of 27

No trick to it whatsoever.



Placing an opened bottle of fizzing wine in the fridge without anything in its neck, or vacume pomped, or re-corked, does NOT prevent the wine to go stale before the next evening.

A SILVER spoon DOES do the trick.


Has nothing to do with volume, but with a chemistry process. Which one I do not know, but I know for a fact that it does work.

It's the silver that does it.

I use a silver teaspoon, that's al it takes.

"We are all amateurs, since life is too short to become a professional" Charlie Chaplin


"We are all amateurs, since life is too short to become a professional" Charlie Chaplin

post #23 of 27
post #24 of 27

I cook with jug wine. It is not expensive and has a pretty good taste.

post #25 of 27
Originally Posted by michaelmcewen View Post

I cook with jug wine. It is not expensive and has a pretty good taste.

I have a gallon jug of Amorane that will shot any bad jug wine theory.

post #26 of 27

Totally agree with ICEMAN, "cooking" wine is out of the question and very intresting point about using the same wine as you´ll be drinking.

We add wine to recipes to add depth and flavour, the better the wine (not neceserly the most expensive) the better the outcome.., NEVER use wines that aren´t good for drinking!!! I´ve seen chefs add corked wine to sauces : ( doing this is never  going to have a happy ending!! Sweet red wines should be saved for reduced sauces to give deep colour, flavor and consistency ( a little goes a long way)... Taking in mind its only going to be a small % of the finished plate.

Its common in northern Europe to use a lot of red wine in cooking because the dishes are normally very hearty and full of flavour. whereas in southern Spain and other country with hotter climates use white wine for a lighter crisper finish.. at the end of the day it all depends on the recipe and desired outcome... :peace:

post #27 of 27



I think the wine you're going to put in your recipe depends on the meal you're going to prepare. There are lots of tips for it and sometimes we just have to refer to the colour and quality of the wine itself

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