What Wines Should You Use For Cooking?


A reader recently asked about cooking with wine:

Hi, I’ve been cooking for years but have never really cooked with wine. I would like to buy good, less expensive (hopefully less than $10) white and red wines that I can keep on hand to cook with. I have a limited knowledge of wines and get overwhelmed when I go to the store. I want to explore new recipes, and many call for wine. I think I wouldn’t be intimidated by them if I had a mixed case in the pantry.

Would you please make a recommendation? Thanks so much!

– Dawn

 When cooking with wine, consider a bag-in-box type of wine, as its closure will keep it from oxidizing – getting destroyed by coming in contact with air for too long –and enable you to keep the wine in your refrigerator, using it as you need it, for a much longer time than a wine closed with a cork or a screw top.  An exception to this would be if you are adding a small amount of wine at the end of a recipe when the wine is not likely to be reduced, and a fuller flavor of the wine will remain in the dish. If that is the case, use the wine you will be serving with the meal.

Other than that, try a red that is not overly tannic like Carlo Rossi Cabernet Sauvignon, which should be pretty easy to find, or something along those lines.

For recipes calling for a white wine, go for an unoaked Chardonnay, if possible. An oaked one will be fine if you cannot find an unoaked, so don’t worry about that too much.  In both cases, you want the fruit to be more prominent in the wine than the tannins or wood, as the fruit will be minimized as the wine reduces during cooking. Starting with a wine with low tannins in the case of red, or unoaked, in the case of white, will make a better dish.

Boxed wines may or may not be your favorite wines for drinking – there are some great ones out there – but they seem to be the best to keep on hand for regular cooking.

Do you have any wine related questions? Shoot me an email at amy@wine4.me. I’m here to help!

Cheers! And happy cooking!