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Wine - One red and one white on hand for cooking - which ones?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

A quick summary of the unedited stream of consciousness below (I put this in an old thread in another forum but I figure it's worth it's own thread):

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

Gracias!

post #2 of 14
Thread Starter 

(this is a bit long...sorry)

 

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. For example, a typical Pascual Toso Malbec for $10 mentioned in another thread 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 $20 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:

 

http://www.rjscraftwinemaking.com/Products/Timeframe/8-Weeks

 

and 

 

http://www.rjscraftwinemaking.com/Products/Timeframe/6-Weeks

 

(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:

 

http://www.rjscraftwinemaking.com/product/Cre-Select-Argentinean-Malbec-Syrah?pageID=6eb43b51-fd2e-316d-878c-1ac4ac793cac&sortBy=ProductTitle&

 

and 

 

http://www.rjscraftwinemaking.com/product/Cre-Select-Argentinean-Tri-Viognier-Riesling-Chardonnay?pageID=6eb43b51-fd2e-316d-878c-1ac4ac793cac&sortBy=ProductTitle&

 

 

 

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.

 

http://www.rjscraftwinemaking.com/product/Cellar-Classic-Wine-Kit-French-Grenache-Syrah?pageID=6eb43b51-fd2e-316d-878c-1ac4ac793cac&sortBy=ProductTitle&

 

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:

 

http://www.rjscraftwinemaking.com/product/Cru-Select-Spanish-Tempranillo-Grenache?pageID=6eb43b51-fd2e-316d-878c-1ac4ac793cac&sortBy=ProductTitle&

 

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 #3 of 14

an American Chardonnay and a French Cabernet Sauvignon or Bourgogne.

post #4 of 14
In that hypothetical scenario, I'd rather go with two wines which work brilliantly for some dishes and not at all for others than wines that work averagely for everything. Thus, my pick would be a Gewürztraminer from Southern Tyrol (in particular, the Gewürztraminer "Feld" from Kobler in Magreid) on the white side and a Shiraz-Carignan from South Africa on the red.
post #5 of 14

Of course, everything is really predicated by preference, but here's my 2 cents.  When choosing a wine for general cooking I tend to stay with middle of the road wines, nothing too sweet, nothing to tannic, nothing too terribly acid, or nothing overly big and dry.  First off, remember that in most cooking applications most of the nuances of the wine will be driven off during the cooking process, leaving mostly the backbone of the wine.  That said, when I look for white wines for cooking I usually try too choose a dry, unoaked, white.  Rieslings can be problematic as they often are on the sweeter side, although a dry riesling can make a good cooking wine.  I prefer though to use either an unoaked charddonay (in the chablis style) or Sauvignon Blanc.  Most of the white wines from the Rhone work well also, as long as they are not overly oaked.  This oak thing tends to be my personal preference, but I prefer the the sharper bite of the malic acid more than the more mild lactic acid found in wood aged whites, when cooking.

 

For reds, I simply find merlot or a fruitier pinot noir to be some of the best for general cooking although I often end up using Syrah's from the Rhone as those are some of my favorite wines and what I usually have on hand most often.  Again, reds that are a little less tannic and dry are better for cooking overall, in my opinion.

 

Of course, there are exceptions to everything I said, and ultimately as long as the wine is sound, and not too far out of balance it will be fine too cook with (stay away from dessert wines though unless you want some sweetness in the dish you are making).  The above are my choices, in a perfect world, but I don't cook with wine everyday so usually I just use what I have on hand for drinking as I do that more often than cooking with the stuff, at home!!!

post #6 of 14

For red I like a Cab, or Malbec and for white a Chard, or Sauvignon Blanc.  I don't buy wine that cost much more than $10/bottle. 

post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 

Those are very helpful comments - thanks guys. I'll probably go with the French Grenache/Syrah for the red and probably the Argentinian trio for the whites (viognier, riesling, chard). Pete, thanks for your thoughts. I agree on all points (especially Rhone reds being my favourite! :) ). 

post #8 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deputy View Post

Those are very helpful comments - thanks guys. I'll probably go with the French Grenache/Syrah for the red and probably the Argentinian trio for the whites (viognier, riesling, chard). Pete, thanks for your thoughts. I agree on all points (especially Rhone reds being my favourite! :) ). 

 


What? Do you really think you can make Rhone reds and Argentinian whites out from a kit? It's a joke?

Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
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Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
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post #9 of 14

For pretty cheap, well, really cheap, Costco has their 1.5 liter Cabernet  house brand (Kirkland) for about $8 USD per bottle. Its not bad at all and really jazzed up some tasty Beef Stroganoff for me, I was quite pleased and I know there are Costco stores in B.C.

post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ordo View Post

 


What? Do you really think you can make Rhone reds and Argentinian whites out from a kit? It's a joke?

 

I appreciate your skepticism. I won't speak to the actual provenance of the kit juice (although I'm pretty sure that I've read that the juice is purchased from the regions in one of the many forms of juice export that is conducted). I will, however, comment on the fact that I have had many wines from wine kits over the years and, if it comes from a quality kit, the wine can be VERY good (for the price). The QPR can be some of the best available. That being said, the good kits have to sit for at least 18 - 24 months (some of the best I've have sat for 3+ years). Even still, they tend to be a bit "thin" (i.e. "watery" - not terribly so but a bit and I think that MAY be the maker's fault...i.e. my dad's fault...or more probably the way the kit's designed). 

 

I'm not saying that it's rivaling the great wines from the regions, but it can sure rival some of the cheap wines from the regions, yes. I know that I'll never convince you without you conducting blind testing, but I'm also not trying to convince you. I know what I know and I know what you probably won't believe. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Betowess View Post

For pretty cheap, well, really cheap, Costco has their 1.5 liter Cabernet  house brand (Kirkland) for about $8 USD per bottle. Its not bad at all and really jazzed up some tasty Beef Stroganoff for me, I was quite pleased and I know there are Costco stores in B.C.

 

Unfortunately, liquor (including wine) is so tightly regulated here that it is only available for purchase at specific stores. There are government owned liquor store, privately owned stores, and some "beer and wines" attached to pubs, etc. No beer, wine, or liquor at grocery stores, Costco, convenience stores, etc. 

 

But...when we pop down to Bellingham in WA, I often gaze lovingly at all that is available for purchase at Costco and then cry as I remember that I can only take 1.5 litres back and even then, only if I've been down for 48+ hours.

post #11 of 14

Wow! I had no idea alcohol was so regulated going into Canada from the US. One of the pleasures of living close to the border when I lived in Detroit was being able to cross into Windsor and bring back Canadian beer. I'm sure there were probably limits on the quantity but they weren't draconian and I never managed to exceed them.

post #12 of 14
Quote:

 

 

Unfortunately, liquor (including wine) is so tightly regulated here that it is only available for purchase at specific stores. There are government owned liquor store, privately owned stores, and some "beer and wines" attached to pubs, etc. No beer, wine, or liquor at grocery stores, Costco, convenience stores, etc. 

 

But...when we pop down to Bellingham in WA, I often gaze lovingly at all that is available for purchase at Costco and then cry as I remember that I can only take 1.5 litres back and even then, only if I've been down for 48+ hours.

 

Well that isn't too good for our northern cousins...

 

But I have a boat... crazy.gif  just kidding, LOL.

 

I did like cooking with the Yellow Tail's  Sheraz/Cab I recollect, and sipping it as well. Don't they have some nice wines coming out of  B.C.'s Okanagan these days?

post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChicagoTerry View Post

Wow! I had no idea alcohol was so regulated going into Canada from the US. One of the pleasures of living close to the border when I lived in Detroit was being able to cross into Windsor and bring back Canadian beer. I'm sure there were probably limits on the quantity but they weren't draconian and I never managed to exceed them.

 

Importing to the US is based on quantity, not price, so it's not so bad. Bringing it back in here, the duties/taxes paid are based on the value of the wine, not just the amount (I believe) and it can get really expensive really quickly.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Betowess View Post

 

Well that isn't too good for our northern cousins...

 

But I have a boat... crazy.gif  just kidding, LOL.

 

I did like cooking with the Yellow Tail's  Sheraz/Cab I recollect, and sipping it as well. Don't they have some nice wines coming out of  B.C.'s Okanagan these days?

 

The Okanagan has some decent wines but they're generally over priced and underwhelming, unfortunately. It's actually where I'm from and I've had a chance to sample several but am usually left wanting. 

post #14 of 14

My favorite cooking wines these days are the little 500 ml Vendange cartons.  They are often on sale for 1.99 or so at the liquor stores, the cab for red, the pinot grigio for white.  Not the best, but certainly not the worst.

 

mjb.

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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