How to Choose a Cooking Wine

What type of wine should I buy when a recipe calls for white or red wine? There are so many to choose from that I'm quite overwhelmed. -- jaas2000


Dear jaas2000:

I keep inexpensive bottles of dry white and red wine in my kitchen for cooking purposes. It doesn't matter about the quality, because the alcohol content cooks out, leaving the flavor of the wine in the recipe. For a white wine, a Chablis or Chardonnay is great. For a red wine, a Burgundy works great for red sauces and a Cabernet for lamb and stews.

If you prefer to not use wine or alcohol in cooking, substitute a broth or another liquid ingredient from the recipe. In most cases, the recipe will taste just as good without the wine, so don't skip a recipe that includes wine if you normally don't use it.

iVillager vibjme writes: "I have found that the boxed wines aren't really that bad. They are no worse than the big bottles. But the thing about the boxed wines is that once they are opened, no air gets to them that could alter the flavor. I keep the box right in a cabinet beside the stove with the nozzles facing out. Whenever I want to add wine I just reach up and get some. They last a pretty long time, and the flavor is the same as the first day it was opened. I keep a basic white (Chablis or Chardonnay) and two reds, one Burgundy for all those spaghetti sauces and stews and one Cabernet for lamb, stews and some fish. It's so convenient having them right there beside the stove."

Worried about cooking with alcohol? iVillager vjbme says: "The alcohol content cooks out if you cook it long enough. If you are adding it to a pot of spaghetti sauce or stew, things that are cooked slowly, I would let this cook for about 30 minutes. This allows the alcohol and water to evaporate, leaving you with the flavor only. If you are making a sauce and are cooking at a higher temperature, the same process will happen quicker. Once heated, both the alcohol and water content evaporate."

Holly Clegg is the author of Meals on the Move: Rush Hour Recipes.

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