What Are Good Cooking Wines

As an avid wine enthusiast and cooking enthusiast, I am often asked about what constitutes a good cooking wine. It’s important to note that the term “cooking wine” generally refers to wines specifically made for …

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As an avid wine enthusiast and cooking enthusiast, I am often asked about what constitutes a good cooking wine. It’s important to note that the term “cooking wine” generally refers to wines specifically made for cooking, which tend to be lower in quality and flavor. However, when it comes to choosing a wine for cooking, I always opt for a bottle that I would also enjoy drinking. After all, if I wouldn’t drink it, why would I cook with it?

Characteristics of Good Cooking Wines

When choosing a wine for cooking, there are a few key characteristics to consider. Firstly, it’s essential to select a wine that is dry rather than sweet, as the latter can impart unwanted sweetness into the dish. Additionally, the acidity of the wine is crucial, as it can help to tenderize meat and add balance to sauces and marinades. I often reach for white wines like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio for lighter dishes, and red wines like Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon for heartier fare.

Quality Over Quantity

While it may be tempting to grab a cheap bottle of wine for cooking, I find that using a good-quality wine can make a significant difference in the final dish. Quality wines tend to have more complexity and depth of flavor, which can elevate the overall taste of the dish. I believe that if a wine isn’t enjoyable on its own, it won’t magically improve when cooked with food.

Avoiding “Cooking Wines”

In the past, “cooking wines” have been marketed specifically for culinary use, but these wines often contain additives and preservatives that can impart off-flavors and aromas to the food. Instead of using these so-called cooking wines, I recommend using regular, drinkable wines that you would enjoy sipping alongside the meal.

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My Personal Picks

When it comes to my go-to cooking wines, I gravitate toward a good quality Chardonnay for creamy sauces and seafood dishes, and a robust Cabernet Sauvignon for rich stews and meat-based sauces. However, the beauty of cooking with wine is that it’s an opportunity to experiment and tailor the flavors to your own palate.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, when selecting a wine for cooking, don’t be afraid to invest in a quality bottle that you would also enjoy drinking. Pay attention to the characteristics of the wine, and consider how it will complement the flavors in your dish. By using good cooking wines, you can enhance the overall taste and enjoyment of your culinary creations. Cheers!

John has been a hobbyist winemaker for several years, with a few friends who are winery owners. He writes mostly about winemaking topics for newer home vintners.
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