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Wine for Cooking


Jeffy Boy
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I've heard many times that you shouldn't use "cheap" wine in cooking, and that you should use what you would drink.

Maybe if I only needed a 1/4 cup or something, but get serious! We're making a beef stew tonight, and there's NO WAY I'm going to pour two cups of a really good wine in. Anyone share my thinking??

I know a man who gave up smoking, drinking, sex, and rich food. He was healthy right up to the day he killed himself. - Johnny Carson
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It all depends on what your idea of "cheep" is. We tend to drink mostly $ 12 to $ 20 wines, and I have no problem cooking with them. I would draw the line at using a $35 + bottle in a stew.

Cheers

Larry

"My gastronomic perspicacity knows no satiety." - Homer

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I agree with you to a certain extent. If a recipe that I'm following calls for wine, I'm not going to toss in a significant portion of a $20 bottle of wine.

But, if I have an $8 bottle, sure, I'll chuck in a significant amount without blinking, even if the wine is tastier than the previously mentioned $20. For example, it wouldn't phase me one bit to use $2 worth of ground beef for meatloaf. If I toss in 8 ounces of $8 wine, that's pretty close to the same $2. It's not a noticeable bite out of my food budget. When I couple that with me usually not eating with someone who will make sure that a whole bottle of wine is killed, I'm making even better use of the wine because I don't have to worry about storing a partial.

If I'm eating alone, I'll tend to use even more wine without a sneeze simply to not have to store a partial.

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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If it is a small amount (1c. or less) I use the wine we will be drinking with dinner. If it is Beef Bourganione (sp) then I will buy a few bottles of $8-10 French Burgundy- like Joesph Drouhin or similar.

I would never cook with a wine that had been open too long, wasn't good for drinking or labled 'cooking' wine. The flavors concentrate when you cook with alcohol and I certainly don't want bad concentrated flavors in my food! :huh:

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I'll just toss in that I used to pay $10.00 or so for a bottle of Columbia Crest Merlot here in Sacramento a few years back. At the time, that same bottle cost over $30.00 in Vancouver.

Would I use a BC-purchased bottle of good wine for cooking? It would depend on how much the recipe called for, whether I had a bottle open or not, and how flush I was feeling.

Would I use the same wine purchased in CA for cooking? Sure.

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Maybe if I only needed a 1/4 cup or something, but get serious!  We're making a beef stew tonight, and there's NO WAY I'm going to pour two cups of a really good wine in.  Anyone share my thinking??

I share your thinking completely. I mean, it's stew-twenty bucks of wine in there seems excessive. I keep some cheaper wines (7-10 bucks at a discount place) for things like this.

I also like Julia Child's suggestion of using vermouth instead of white wine-it adds a nice taste to pan sauces.

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I almost always use the wine I am drinking. Of course it depends on what I'm making. A stew or beef bourgoinne calls for a hearty burgundy, whereas a beef stroganoff or a spagetti sauce can get away with a Cabernet usually.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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quote: m-l

I also like Julia Child's suggestion of using vermouth instead of white wine-it adds a nice taste to pan sauces.

I once worked in an excellent French restaurant and one day I asked one of the line cooks how they made the excellent buerre blanc that was served with the grilled swordfish,. He smiled the smile of a stockbroker giving you an inside tip, and said "vermouth." That was their secret ingredient and still remains a significant contributor to my culinary repertoire today -- cheap, flavorful and it never goes bad.

Generally, rather than use the wine I'm drinking to cook with -- unless I'm drinking inexpensive wine or the quantity needed is small -- I'll use a decent, but less expensive version of the same wine. The key is to use a wine worth drinking in its own right, but of the same styke. An inexpensive Chilean Cabernet, for example, that you'd be happy to drink with family on a Wednesday night, might not make the cut on Saturday when the guests come buy. But it still yields an excellent marchand du vin sauce, while freeing up the brutally expensive classified Bordeaux for the serious quaffing portion of the evening.

Edited by Busboy (log)

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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We're making a beef stew tonight, and there's NO WAY I'm going to pour two cups of a really good wine in.

Status report: I used a Chilean Cab-Syrah blend (about $14 CDN, I think) in the stew, and am drinking a glass as it simmers. Wine tastes good. Stew smells good.

I know a man who gave up smoking, drinking, sex, and rich food. He was healthy right up to the day he killed himself. - Johnny Carson
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Do bear in mind that heat is the enemy of fine wine - and all the qualities in the wine that make it "fine"; imagine having some bottles of fine red wine that you want to store, and the thought of keeping them in a place that gets too warm, like by the furnace. Heavens! But when you boil a wine for the length of time that a dish cooks, or a stew makes, you're destroying all of the nuances, the acidity, bouquet etc. - basically you're killing everything about the wine except its basic flavor. When the price of a wine includes some extras that the heat of of cooking will destroy, I think it's pointless. I try to cook with assertively flavored wines that are a little to "rough" to drink, because I find that they actually lend just the right "wine" flavor to a dish. An example of a cheap wine that I used to buy for cooking (I haven't used it in a while but it's a good example) was the Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc. I mean, it's awful if you try to drink it, but cooked into a dish, it adds the right assertive touch of Sauvignon Blanc, even after it's cooked. Similarly, there are some "rough" reds that have qualities not especially pleasant to sip, that cook wonderfully well. Trial and error helps. But to knowingly boil an expensive wine that you wouldn't even want to store in an overly warm place for fear of killing all its nuances - that just seems silly to me. The trick is to taste them and discern that there are no off flavors that will reduce - but if a wine is cheap because its body is "raw" or it doesn't have finesse, well, that's pretty much what you're going to kill off in the expensive wines when you cook them anyway. My two cents.

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Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

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I take the Markk theory of cooking with wine, personally. I cook almost exclusively with the Charles Shaw wines, the infamous "two buck Chuck" from Trader Joe's. If I am cracking open a decent wine for dinner, I wanna DRINK it, not toss it into the sauce for my pork chops. But I'm poooooor, so Charles Shaw label is 90% of what I keep around.

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I purchase decent wine. I cook with a great deal of Arkansas or Texas wines, that's right I said Arkansas :raz: There are many very good vineyards mid state. I purchase a case at a time, getting their discounts so an average bottle of Cabernet will be about $7 or so. Last night for instance I used one of the $7 bottles of wine to make dinner, and we drank a $16 bottle of wine.

Now since we did not finish the $16 bottle of wine, it will get used to make dinner sometime within the next few days. I don't have a problem using it once it's open, but I would not have decanted a $16 bottle of wine specifically for cooking purposes.

Never trust a skinny chef

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Many, many commercial kitchens that I walk into have an 18 liter box of "Chablis" and an 18 liter box of "Burgundy" on the counter near the line. Usually, it's mass produced stuff like Wm Wycliff, or Franzia.

I wonder what they use it for.............

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As a poor college student, I generally do just buy one decent bottle of wine and use it for both the cooking and drinking phases of dinner. I cook relatively infrequently (Maybe once a week, at least when there's wine involved) so keeping a dedicated bottle of cheaper wine around just to cook with is impractical as it will probably just go bad and I"ll have to replace it.

Matt Robinson

Prep for dinner service, prep for life! A Blog

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The Bonny Doon "Ca' del Solo Big House Red" is a great blended varietal red wine that is great for cooking -- plus it retails for like 8 or 9 bucks. Its also got a Stelvin screwcap, so if you don't finish the bottle, its easy to keep fresh. Its a nice red table wine for drinking too.

http://www.bonnydoonvineyard.com/wine/view/54

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Maybe if I only needed a 1/4 cup or something, but get serious!  We're making a beef stew tonight, and there's NO WAY I'm going to pour two cups of a really good wine in.  Anyone share my thinking??

I share your thinking completely. I mean, it's stew-twenty bucks of wine in there seems excessive. I keep some cheaper wines (7-10 bucks at a discount place) for things like this.

I also like Julia Child's suggestion of using vermouth instead of white wine-it adds a nice taste to pan sauces.

I love using vermouth! Started that years ago when a friend left a bottle at the house. Good to be in fine company there. :wink:

For wine, never cooking wine. I can't drink wine by the glass but love what it does for food. I also keep a bottle of cheaper but decent wine around to cook with. If I want vinegar I'll use vinegar, so some descretion is called for.

The Sutter Home is a good example.

Judith Love

North of the 30th parallel

One woman very courteously approached me in a grocery store, saying, "Excuse me, but I must ask why you've brought your dog into the store." I told her that Grace is a service dog.... "Excuse me, but you told me that your dog is allowed in the store because she's a service dog. Is she Army or Navy?" Terry Thistlewaite

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I will use the drinking wine for cooking if it's a small amount. Anything more than a glass and it makes more sense to open another bottle just for that purpose. As long as the cooking wine has sufficient acid and fruit, and no major flaws, it will serve its purpose in the pot. The indignity of rapid boiling and combination with other flavors renders any subtlety or special characteristic of the wine completely moot, in my opinion. While the extractive power of alcohol has been debunked, it still punches up the flavor quite a bit, and the acid is like lemon juice but without the intrusive citrus. Seriously, what is even a $10 bottle going to add on those fronts? Definitely do taste the cooking wine before using it, though. The only thing more hideous than spoiled wine is highly reduced spoiled wine.

Marcella Hazan has a recipe that originally called for braising beef in a bottle of Barolo. If there is anyone stupid enough to actually use US$50+ Barolo to make this dish, please let me know, I'd love to come over and help you with the cooking wine...

Walt

Walt Nissen -- Livermore, CA
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I also like Julia Child's suggestion of using vermouth instead of white wine-it adds a nice taste to pan sauces.

I'd like to try using vermouth, but I don't think I've ever bought it, let alone cooked with it. Therefore some dumb questions:

1. What kind should I look for for cooking?

2. Can you use it as a 1:1 substitute for white wine?

3. Will it keep after opening (unrefrigerated)?

I know a man who gave up smoking, drinking, sex, and rich food. He was healthy right up to the day he killed himself. - Johnny Carson
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I also like Julia Child's suggestion of using vermouth instead of white wine-it adds a nice taste to pan sauces.

I'd like to try using vermouth, but I don't think I've ever bought it, let alone cooked with it. Therefore some dumb questions:

1. What kind should I look for for cooking?

2. Can you use it as a 1:1 substitute for white wine?

3. Will it keep after opening (unrefrigerated)?

1. I usually use white (as opposed to red vermouth) cuz it's dry.

2. I think so. I read somewhere that vermouth is just moscato wine infused with various herbs & spices*, which I guess explains why it's so good in cooking.

3. I keep mine in the fridge, probably safer cuz I think it will eventually go bad if not.

*edit* It was on an episode of Thirsty Traveler about Vermouth! It's from the new season I think.

Edited by Gul_Dekar (log)
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Anyone ever opened a bottle for cooking, had a glass then thought "That's going in me, not the Stew!"?

For general deglazing duties, A bottle of dry vermouth is your best friend. Keeps very well (Especially as I don't drink the stuff!)

I love animals.

They are delicious.

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Regardless of which wine I am drinking, I usually save the "dregs" for cooking with.

As far as a white wine for cooking, I use Dry Zack, aged 15 years. It is especially good as a deglazer when using a demi-glace for sauce making.

It's kind of expensive, but then, if I like the taste of something, then hang the expense. If I can't afford it, then I just do it less often, rather than sacrifice a taste that I am looking for in a dish.

doc

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I'd like to try using vermouth, but I don't think I've ever bought it, let alone cooked with it.  Therefore some dumb questions:

1.  What kind should I look for for cooking?

2.  Can you use it as a 1:1 substitute for white wine?

3.  Will it keep after opening (unrefrigerated)?

I've had strange experiences with vermouth, probably because I don't know a lot about it. We drink vermouth only in martinis, and that very infrequently. I've tried several, and my own favorite and that of my martini drinking friends is Boissiere Dry. Makes a very nice vodka or gin martini. But for some reason, it doesn't come through very well in cooking. I'm no expert, but I don't understand why that would be. Can anyone give me some hints and maybe suggest another brand that does better in cooking? Or maybe I just don't like the taste of Boissiere unless it has some gin in it :raz:.

THW

"My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne." John Maynard Keynes

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I just use Martini & Rossi (the dry white stuff) or Noilly Prat (sp.?)

Yes, use it 1:1 substitution. Vermouth has more "flavor" than a lot of dry white wine, so I guess a caveat would be to taste it before you add to to make sure you want that taste in your finished sauce. I think it's great in a reduced pan sauce for chicken-it adds a little something that wine doesn't- but I can see where it could add an unexpected to taste to a simple sauce. Personally, I also like it in my Beurre Blanc, but then I like a lot of it in my gin martinis...

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