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Cooking with wine. The New York Times says to save your money as any wine will do!

Updated on September 29, 2009

2$ wine, perfect for cooking

Save your money for drinking wine

Everyone knows that you should never cook with a wine that you wouldn't want to drink, right? Well apparently, we've all been taken for suckers. A recent expose in the New York Times, which involved a blind tasting with several wine experts and cooking professionals, proved that the drinkability of the wine is not necessarily the most important factor in determining it's appropriateness for cooking, and in fact many of the more expensive "quality wines" actually performed far worse when cooked, in the blind tasting.

Now this doesn't mean that you can use seriously old, funky smelling or otherwise bad wine, but it does mean that a 4$ bottle of wine is probably just as good for that pan sauce as a 12$ bottle or a 50$ bottle.

It turns out that because the cooking will remove a lot of the subtleties from a wine, the basal characteristics are more important. So think about the heaviness, the tannic quality and the acidity of the wine, when deciding if it's a match for your meal, and forget about the finer aromas of subtle apricots and the like…they don’t stand a chance.

Whatever wine you do end up using for cooking, it is important to always cook with it quite gently. Nothing destroys a wine sauce faster than a vigorous boil, so always keep any wine well below the simmer.

Pick up some two buck chuck, and have it at the ready for your next quick pan sauce or braise, and save your money for the stuff you're actually going to drink!

Additionally, never throw out those dregs of a bottle of wine. This leftover wine is cooking gold, and should always be saved, saving you from wondering whether or not to open a bottle the next time a ½ cup of wine is required. Simply freeze any leftover wine in a zip lock bag (label it, if you do this a lot) and you've got a frozen cooking wine cellar, at the ready!

The wine experts (of which I confess I am not) will always tell you that price doesn’t necessarily equate to quality. Most of us tend to forget this as we're browning at the wine shop though, and disregard some great value wines, thinking that their price disqualifies them from decency. Find a good wine store with a knowledgeable staff, and use their expertise to find great value wines, at very reasonable prices.

Mmm, sautéed chicken in sparkling wine and wild mushrooms, pork chops in sour sherry and red wine, cod with clams and Riesling….


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    • profile image

      Chrisalis 9 years ago

      Cooking certainly removes a lot of the flavour qualities of wine but I think the rule about not cooking with something you wouldn't drink might be designed to stop people from using the dregs of a bottle that have been sitting on the kitchen counter for a week ... that wine won't improve the flavour of the food.

    • aprilkerr profile image

      aprilkerr 10 years ago from UK

      Me, I tend to look at the label. I don't mean what it says on the label but rather *how it looks.* Not very technical I know. I would never in a million years pour expensive wine into a meal, it's just a waste.

    • snapdharlich profile image

      snapdharlich 10 years ago

      I'm a real believer that too many people get wrapped up in the snob value factor of wines and in my part of the world whisky too. Like you say Carol, you can try out an expensive bottle of wine and hate it and then get an inexpensive bottle and love it. Keep an open mind, try as many as you can realistically afford (it is expensive whatever you choose) and then when you get something you really enjoy, then you can add that to your list of regulars.

    • John D Lee profile image

      John D Lee 10 years ago


      Thank you very much for the advice. Thinking about the "real estate factor" is there a particular country that is currently producing wines that are consistently good price/value do to their local economies? For example, I was told that Argentinian wines were very good value, and that the low prices were not an indicator of the quality of the wine.

    • Carol Bancroft profile image

      Carol Bancroft 10 years ago

      John, the truth is there's no real way to tell if a wine is "good" other than by trying it out. Ratings count for something, but just because something rates highly doesn't mean you'll like it. When you go to your favorite wine shop, describe what you like to the person working there (assuming it's someone knowledgable). Be as descriptive as you can and he or she should be able to give you good reccomendations. That's how I do it at my store and most of the time we hit it right with our customers. But you bet -- price does not equal quality all the time! In certain instances (e.g., high end Napa wines), you're paying for that plot of real estate the grapes grow on more than anything else. I've tasted $75 bottles that were terrible, and I've tasted $7 bottles that I love!

    • John D Lee profile image

      John D Lee 10 years ago

      I don't think that many of us really follow the wine world closely enough to be able to determine a good wine. We may know a bit about the different types of wine, and what type of wine will go with the meal we are serving, but beyond that, how can you tell if a wine that you've never previously tried will be good? I'd love it if anyone could help me out on this one!

      I usually look for lots of award winning medalian looking things on the's lame, i know.

    • The Dan Sai Kid profile image

      The Dan Sai Kid 10 years ago from Scotland

      I must confess that I judge wine by price, if I knew how to judge any other way then I would.  In the UK there is a fixed tax on a bottle of wine, so if you can get a certain amount over you can get a much better wine (usually) - better=not so bad a hangover...

    • The Dan Sai Kid profile image

      The Dan Sai Kid 10 years ago from Scotland

      Sorry, repeat post...