I'm teetotal-- what all purpose alcohol should I keep in my pantry?

So many recipes (specifically: I'm looking at a fig sauce for a pork roast tonight) call for some wine. Because I don't drink, I don't want to buy and crack open a bottle of wine just to use 1 cup.

What's a good alcohol that won't go bad and is a good substitute for most recipes (including recipes that call for red wine)?



Linn September 16, 2012
Like many others above, my preference is dry white vermouth. I remember a long time ago, Julia Child I think it was, suggested vermouth because once opened you could keep it in a cool pantry and the alcohol content kept it from going bad. It did take me a while to figure out you need to spend a little more and buy a good vermouth to avoid an unpleasant aftertaste in the food however. I also keep California or Spanish brandy on hand.
Comfort September 15, 2012
I always have a wine on hand. It depends on what you tend to make a lot of in general. I find a good whisky, like Brangdang said, is good for baked goods and deserts. But you can't really go wrong with a wine (red or white).
Champa P. September 15, 2012
I also agree with those who mentioned that you can buy small bottles of wine. I also keep brandy in my pantry. It lasts a long time and really is indispensable for so many recipes. I frequently saute my mushrooms in it.
lastnightsdinner September 14, 2012
Oh, also, Bandit has wines that are inexpensive and both drinkable and good for cooking. They come in 1 liter boxes, and some outlets have smaller "single serving" sizes that should keep well, too.

rt21 September 14, 2012
Just like the single serving bottles of wine are a great idea when making desserts I use a lot of nips, that way you can have many different ones without breaking the bank
lastnightsdinner September 14, 2012
I'm also going to put my vote in for dry vermouth. And please, keep it in the fridge! It's a fortified wine, and it will stay fresher in there than at room temperature. We like to keep a small bottle of port in the fridge as well - it's great in meaty braises and tomato sauces.
Author Comment
Dry vermouth makes a nice substitute for white wine up to about 1/2 cup - more than that, and the aromatics in the vermouth start to overtake the dish. I keep a 4-pack each of 6 ounce bottles of red and white for cooking.
Sam1148 September 14, 2012
I rarely drink wine, so opening an entire bottle for a sauce or stew isn't economical.
I'll get a couple of packs, (red and white) of those single serving wines and use those.

The others I keep for cooking are Sherry and Sake (I do drink Sake tho).
ChefJune September 14, 2012
If you don't drink, I would not recommend wines for cooking, either. You can substitute a number of other liquids for the alcohol -- fruit juices, stocks, even soda pop.

It is not true that wine keeps a long time. It doesn't. even when it's past its drinkable window, it is still good to cook with, but if you don't drink, why would you want it in your house?

My sister's home has been alcohol-free for the past 20 years, and she has developed a whole host of alternatives to wine and other alcoholic beverages that she uses in their place.
HalfPint September 14, 2012
I always have a bottle of dry sherry, like Amontillado, around. A bottle will last almost a year in my kitchen. It's great for deglazing pans for sauces, for most Chinese dishes (when the recipe calls for rice wine or shaoxing wine).

For red wines, I get a mini bottle from the supermarket, so that I'm not opening and then wasting a whole bottle of red.
HalfPint September 14, 2012
You could also get this non-alcoholic wine powder:
minibakersupreme September 14, 2012
Boxed wine is a great idea! Also, for most applications I go to the vinegar section of my grocery and buy a bottle of white wine for cooking and red wine for cooking. They seem to last a while- I haven't done a price comparison between that and a cheap bottle of each from the wine section. I'm sure the wine section is a much better value. Keep cheap stuff for cooking and save the good wine for drinking!

On the other hand, for baking, I like to keep brandy around for fruit desserts and rum and whiskey for caramel sauces and rich desserts.
Reiney September 14, 2012
Dry vermouth for white wine

Red wine - depends, you could go a marsala or a port, but that's not going to suit everything because of the high sugar content of those. For your recipe tonight I think a port could work nicely.

Some people have had success freezing wine, so you could try that route (not something I've tried because, well, open bottles aren't a problem in my house :)

Or, you can buy the best boxed wine you can find, which will keep for a good 2-3 weeks before it starts to go bad.
BrangDang September 14, 2012
wines are really your best bet, especially for cooking. They won't really go bad after opening. I'm a baker and like to keep whiskey around for desserts and other baked goods.
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