2 minutes reading time (474 words)

Cooking Wine?

By Gina Trippi for 50 Plus Living



Customer comes into our shop and asks for a wine to put into her Beef Bourguignon that she can also enjoy while cooking or at the table. The request for cooking wine for various recipes is fairly common.

First, what’s the difference in table wine and what we call cooking wine? Mainly, quality.

A successful match is simple. Avoid bottles labeled “cooking wine.” This is just a concoction of sugar, salt and preservatives that is nothing you would want in your dish. Notice “cooking wine” is usually shelved in the grocery store next to vinegar!

Julia Child summed it up this way:  "If you do not have a good wine to use, it is far better to omit it, for a poor one can spoil a simple dish and utterly debase a noble one." 

A good guide is to only cook with wine you would drink. That does not mean you need a high priced bottle. Because the subtle nuances of the wine will burn off in cooking, you would do best with a well made, reasonably priced wine, that complements not overwhelms your flavors.  You can easily find an appropriate dual purpose wine for the dish and your table for under $15.

Why do recipes call for wine? Usually, to bring up the acidity in the dish which works to tenderize meats as well as to stabilize more delicate ingredients. As the wine cooks down and concentrates, it brings a richness or slight sweetness to the dish. Cooks generally recommend avoiding sweet wines like Moscato. And chose an un-oaked wine as oak aging can impart a bitterness when heated. If you select a wine that you can also serve with the dish, you continue the flavor profile through the meal! 

Saving a wine to use in cooking presents real problems. The wine will likely oxidize. This results in musty, nutty, sherry like flavors. Such an addition might be right for your recipe but, if so, choose a wine that has been intentionally oxidized such as a dry Madiera or Marsala. Because wines become sweeter as reduced, unless you are working with a sweet dish, chose a dry wine. Remember the golden rule: use only wines that you would drink.

OK. But you want it all! A solid wine that makes a dish sing, sits nicely on a table and is a palate pleaser. We suggest Capitelles 2016 Pinot Noir and 2016 Chardonnay from Languedoc Roussillon, both $8.99.

This 2016 unoaked Chardonnay is well-balanced and structured on the palate making it a safe and solid addition to a dish. And the 2016 Pinot Noirhas a well-rounded body, with an expressive nose and palate of cherries and spices.

Choosing a wine to add to your dish is not a DIY project. Let us help.




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