Thoughts on cooking with use or not use the good stuff?

What are folks’ thoughts on cooking with wine? Do you prefer cooking with the good stuff or the cheap stuff? Wine you drink or wine that you cheap and easy to buy? I’ve always wondered about this. I cook with whatever I have open, but usually it’s with something cheap because I drink all the good stuff.

If I didn’t drink it because it tastes nasty, I wouldn’t cook with it.

If I didn’t drink it because it had been open too long or had some minor flaw, I might cook with it.

Most often I want wine for acid and use some of the $8-9 New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc I usually have in the fridge.

Tasted it by accident once, bleeaahh! I wouldn’t cook with it. Didn’t know they still sell it

FWIW, I’ve never seen a brasato al barolo made with real barolo.
Not in Piemonte, at least…

I don’t use Two Buck Chuck for cooking (even though it’s more like Four Buck Chuck now), but I also don’t use my $25 bottles of wine either. I keep a couple $8-10 bottles on hand for cooking – drinkable, but no wow-factor. If I have a bottle open that I’m drinking, I’ll use some of that, if I only need a couple splashes.

BTW, I freeze leftover wine in ice cube trays and pop them out into a freezer bag. :smile:

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that’s a great idea (although it’s not often that I have leftover wine :laughing:)

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We don’t ever have leftover drinking wine in our house, but sometimes we have leftover cooking wine. :wine_glass:

ahhh. I don’t often cook dishes that require a small amount of wine (and if I do, I’ll use the bottle I’m drinking at the time)—I usually make something like coq au vin or beef bourginon that require a bottle of wine (or 1/2 bottle).

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Well, I usually drink the cheap stuff (not $2 chuck, but the next step up) and I’ll cook with it too. If I open a nice bottle, I’m unlikely to cook with it.


It’s not a matter “good stuff” versus “cheap stuff.” The PRICE TAG is irrelevant. It’s a matter of cooking with something that tastes good, that you would drink. That doesn’t have to be a $200+ bottle of Napa Cabernet. But neither is it a bottle of $1.99 $#|+ . . .

Things to remember:

  • If you won’t drink it, don’t cook with it!
  • If you are planning on serving (for example) a Cabernet Sauvignon with dinner, try to use a Cabernet in cooking, too.

In other words, cook with the same wine you are drinking or something similar. No one is suggesting you have to open up TWO bottles of 1970 Beaulieu Vineyards Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, one to serve and the other to cook with – that’s ridiculous! But you want there to be some “similarity” in terms of the flavors picked up from the wine in the food with the wine in your glass. So, if you’re planning on serving a bottle of (e.g.) $25 Cabernet (or Zinfandel or Pinot Noir or Chardonnay or . . . or . . . or . . . ), and you need one cup or more for cooking, grab an $8-10 bottle of Cabernet (or Zinfandel or Pinot Noir or Chardonnay or . . . or . . . or . . . ) to cook with. Your taste buds will thank you.

@Jason Those are some fair tips to consider. Thanks!

FWIW, I’ve never seen a brasato al barolo made with real barolo.
Not in Piemonte, at least…

plus a millionty on this. on another site, ahem, i got into a heated back and forth with somebody about batali’s risotto al barolo at babbo. i was laughing out loud at his insistence that the kitchen HAD to be using actual barolo.


Probably uses Barbaresco . . . . just kidding!

But there’s nothing wrong with using an inexpensive Nebbiolo from elsewhere.

Cooking wine? nevernevernevernevernever. As others have said, if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it.

Like others, if I have some that’s just been open a little too long, I’ll splash that into the pan – it’s going to be oxidized anyway, so a little long in the tooth is not usually a problem with most things. (a delicate piece of fish better be poached in fresh wine, however. Just sayin)

I don’t every buy cheap stuff (Boones Farm, etc) – but I do buy inexpensive wine to cook with. One of the cooking magazines a few years ago did a double-blind experiment and not only could most experts not tell the difference after cooking, the subtleties of the expensive stuff disappeared, and the tannins and acidity were usually magnified. Because less-expensive wine has less subltety, tannin, and sometimes less acidity, less-expensive wines actually perform a little better when cooked.

But it still has to be drinkable – might not be something I’d want to serve guests, but it better be something I wouldn’t mind drinking if I were served a glass of the stuff at a party.


if you’d drink it during the zombie apocalypse…

Yes, in fact Bill Bufford says as much in his book, Heat. He says that while he was working at Babbo, Mario used a cheap domestic merlot in place of barolo.

Drinkable, but not a wow. I have a few dishes that call for an entire bottle of red wine poured into or over it. I use Bogle, and it’s been great. For a brisket I use Cab, for my vegetarian shephard’s pie, something a little lighter, like a Pinot. Nothing against Bogle, but I tend to drink something a little better. I’ll drink Bogle too, but not usually. Wine in the $8-10 price range. There is absolutely no point in using really good wine in a dish, I don’t think.

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