A lot of people say that "if you wouldn't drink it, don't cook with it," but you shouldn't open up a bottle of great-quality wine every time you need a little bit for a recipe! Any reasonably priced and relatively dry white wine is appropriate for use in cooking.
If you don't have white wine on hand, dry white vermouth is a good substitute. If you don't drink, you can use apple juice or low-sodium chicken broth.
I've always wondered about the "don't cook with it if you wouldn't drink it" thing. I'm not a big white wine drinker, so I never know what to buy for cooking and just try to go for the "reasonably-priced, relatively dry" option. What I find though is that when I buy blind like this I sometimes up with a nasty, cheap wine-taste in the food. (Trouble is, I buy wine at Trader Joe's b/c it's so much cheaper there, but their stock changes weekly, so if I find one I like I can't always find the same bottle the next time I look for it.)Trader Joe's has plenty of drinkable wines for under $10, so just going by price doesn't always work. Sorry I don't really have a good answer for the question, just wondering how others weigh in on the issue.
I would suggest that opening a bottle to cook with is the perfect excuse to serve the rest of the bottle with the meal. Conversely, I cook with wines I enjoy and can afford to drink. Works perfectly for me.
The first time I heard "if you wouldn't drink it, don't cook with it", it was an admonition to avoid anything labeled "cooking wine" (do they still sell that stuff?) and not to cook with old, stale leftovers. It seems like it should go without saying, a dish is only as good as its ingredients. But that doesn't mean you have to use expensive bottles, the esoteric qualities that command high prices are most often lost in the cooking process.
As to what to buy, the best advice I have is best phrased as what to avoid, and that's heavily oaked wines. The astringent flavor only concentrates during cooking and, quite frankly, I classify such wines as undrinkable to begin with. Unfortunately, most California chardonnays fall into that category so unless it says "unoaked" on the bottle, keep looking.
I've yet to meet a sommelier who didn't list a Riesling amongst their favorites. I've had really good luck with TJ's German Rieslings including that they remain consistent.
I so agree with Chef Ono on the oaked/unoaked!
June is a trusted source on General Cooking.
Yes, that salted, lousy, VERY expensive wine is still on grocery store shelves all over the US.
I cook with "old stale" wines all the time. If it sits in the fridge longer than what I want to drink it, I just leave the stopper in it until I'm cooking something I want to use it for.... or a week (whichever comes first).
I generally cook with dry vermouth -- the Dolin brand -- there IS a difference! Got that from Julia Child who reminded that since Vermouth is a fortified wine, it has a longer shelf life than "dry white." Unless I already have an inexpensive bottle open, I go with the vermouth. I probably go throuh a bottle every couple of months.
The green boxes of Bandit brand Pinot Grigio are good for cooking (and drinking) too and because it's a box, it keeps a bunch longer than a bottle.
I tried to use those grocery store wines ONCE, and when my first taste test was so overly salty, that I had to toss the whole pot of sauce. The wine didn't even lend a good flavor. Where that stuff comes from and why does it sells is beyond my comprehension. IF anyone takes anything from this thread, its that those bottles are worthless. no good for drinking, no good for cooking. Plenty of cheaper, drinkable wines at the liquor store that are a bazillion times better for cooking than that junk.
Sarah is a trusted source on General Cooking.
Price or varietal? As far as varietal goes, I look for a (dry) riesling, chardonnay, semillon, sauv blanc, pinot grigio - any of these work, and I'd choose based on what I'd like to sip from :) Gewurtztraminers, moscatos and and sweeter rieslings are great for desserts (though the dry options can also work, since you're usually adding sugar as well).
I agree that you don't need to spend a fortune - I challenge most palates to taste a $10 bottle versus a $20 bottle in your average sauce. That said, if it's the star and going to be concentrated, such as in a beurre blanc, you don't want to go *too* downmarket.
Something like St Hallett's Poacher's Blend is a good contender as it's also enjoyable to drink.
(I don't know anything about this website other than it has a pic of the label and a rough price)
Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.
I usually end up adding what I am drinking (sort of proving that saying) - that said - I am not a butter or oak fan. I like my wine dryish - LOVE falanghina (harder to find - bit more spendy) but very often it's something like King's Estate pinot gris from Oregon which runs around $14.00/bottle. I also drink a lot (!!!) of dry rose (hello Provence) in the hotter months so that gets dumped into whatever is cooking on a frequent bases. If I am drinking red then I'll open one of those whites or pinks, use what I need, and fridge the rest until I am ready to drink it.
I generally stick with sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio/pinot gris, usually in the small 4-pack bottles so it doesn't go to waste. If I only need 1/2 cup or less, I'll even use white vermouth.
AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.
For French cooking (other than Alsatian), Chablis has never let me down. For Alsatian dishes, I go local, generally cooking with whatever I'd serve with the dish. ;o)
Cavit Pinot Grigio. Less than $10, dry very drinkable.
I keep a box of burgundy and a box of chablis on hand for general deglazing and cooking. I've been known to sneak a glass here and there while I'm cooking too ;) The boxes sit nicely, ready to use on a shelf close by my burners. Perfectly easy to store and use over a long period.
I'f I need something more specific for a dessert or something, I'll purchase a separate bottle of whatever it is that I need for that moment, but the burgundy/chablis duo works quite well for me in the majority of my cooking.
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