Quick Recipes and Easy

Cooking with Wine: How Bad Can the Wine Be?

We all like using wine in cooking. It adds a certain “special something” to nearly any dish.

So what wine should you use?

The rule of thumb you hear all the time from most experts is: Never use a wine for cooking that you wouldn’t drink yourself.


Some of the reasons given for this advice are:
· If a wine is very fruity or very sour, these characteristics will be emphasized during cooking.
· If you don’t like the taste of a wine, you won’t like the taste of the dish.

· The process of cooking or reducing will bring out the worst in an inferior wine.

But, the main reason it usually seems to boil down to (no pun intended) is dislike of the so-called “cooking wines” (on sale in most supermarkets, in a separate section). On that we can ALL agree! These products are vinegary, made of very cheap wine, and contain salt and other additives. They will NOT enhance your meal.

But what if you have opened a bottle of normal wine and find you don’t like it? Should you just pour it down the sink? Or is using it for cooking the next best thing to drinking it?

Well, you really need to reckon about why you didn’t like it in the first place. Of course if a wine is tainted, corked or has been left open too long, then pouring it away may be your only option.

But, if it is a reasonable wine that just isn’t to your taste, it could be perfectly cookable with. If you found it too dry or not sweet enough, its sweetness will be enhanced by reducing a sauce with it. If it’s a red that you found too heavy to drink, it could make a lovely sauce to go with beef or lamb. And your palate will be less offended by an inferior wine when cooked with tomatoes and herbs than when you drink it straight down!

And here’s a secret not everybody knows. You would be surprised at how many top restaurants, including Michelin-starred establishments, keep wine purely for cooking that would be far too rough too drink! It doesn’t seem to do their food any harm!

So, if you’re a newcomer to cooking with wine, start off with a mainstream white and a mainstream red. As you gain more experience, you can become more creative with specific wines. But also, reckon of a use for that bottle you opened and didn’t delight in! That’s a VERY creative thing to do!

Elaine Berry is the owner of Vintage Wine Associates, a small company for those who like wine and everything to do with it. For information about all aspects of wine and a selection of unique and original wine gifts, come and join us at myvintagewine.com myvintagewine.com

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