Cooking With Wine? Use the Cheap Stuff

The New York Times tested the adage that you shouldn’t cook with any wine you wouldn’t want to drink. And guess what: It worked out just fine.

It wasn’t that the finished dishes were identical — in fact, they did have surprisingly distinct flavors — but the wonderful wines and the awful ones produced equally tasty food, especially if the wine was cooked for more than a few minutes.

Whew! What a relief. No more cooking with the 2000 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild for us! MARK ASHLEY

It Boils Down to This: Cheap Wine Works Fine [NY Times]
(Photo: Maulleigh, from the Consumerist.com flickr pool)

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  1. KevinQ says:

    I’ve always understood that adage to mean, “Don’t cook with ‘cooking wine,’” which has added salt, sugar, and seasonings.

    K

  2. BWJones says:

    My rule is that I will not cook with anything I will not drink. Thankfully there are lots of fairly good wines at very reasonable prices that make excellent cooking wines.

  3. Unamerican says:

    That adage came about back in the day when there was very little wine selection in most places, compared to today. I can remember people serving Gallo jug wines at parties…that’s a fine wine to cook with, frankly.

    In France it still makes perfect sense…there are a whole range of table wines that are really very good to be had at two or three Euros a bottle. But please don’t waste good wine in a recipe like stews or stock where you need a lot of it…

  4. averdade says:

    Use the cheap stuff? I didn’t know there was any alternatives! :)

  5. TedSez says:

    If you live near a Trader Joe’s, you should do your cooking with Two-Buck Chuck.

    It isn’t exactly delicious, but it’s as good as most of what sells in the $4-$8 range — so if you’re going cheap, you might as well go really cheap.

  6. MollyNYC says:

    I don’t drink much, so I don’t usually have an open bottle of wine around for cooking. What I use instead is something I heard attributed to Julia Child: Dry vermouth (which is wine with some herbs added). Cheap, tastes right, and easy to keep around, since most people don’t drink it.

  7. infinitysnake says:

    Vermouth is more of a fortified wine than a wine per se. It used to be a cousin of absinthe- made with wormwood.

  8. Hawkins says:

    My rule is that I will not cook with anything I will not drink. Thankfully I will drink just about anything.

  9. Harlan says:

    One important caveat in the article, though, is don’t cook with red wines that are heavy on the tannins, such as young Cabernets. Instead, for a red wine for cooking, use an inexpensive softer red, like a red Zinfandel…

  10. Snakeophelia says:

    My rule is that I will not cook with anything I will not drink. Thankfully I will drink just about anything.

    That’s a good way to be!

    As for cooking with wine, I do it so rarely that I tend to use whatever I have around the house – but I didn’t know about the additives in the cooking wine. Good to know. I do know gourmet cooks who are quite happy with Trader Joe’s Two-Buck Chuck! Too bad Pennsylvania will never, ever let us buy wine at the grocery store….

  11. godawgs7 says:

    Cook’s Illustrated suggested using box wine. They said that it was good enough for almost all occasions and because it was in a sealed plastic bag (versus an opened bottle) it could last up to six months on the shelf (not in the fridge!). I have a box of franzia on top of my fridge just sitting there for whenever i need that 1/2 cup of white wine.

    btw (cheap 98% fat free ground turkey & a little bit of white wine to marinade in makes a GREAT burger).

  12. Type-E says:

    I cook w/ 82 Lafite

  13. CumaeanSibyl says:

    I’m surprised Consumerist hasn’t posted that bit about filtering cheap vodka with Brita pitchers to make it drinkable. Or did I miss it?

    The no-drink-no-cook rule seems awfully subjective. I can’t stand dessert wines to drink, no matter how expensive they are, but they’re great to cook with.