If a recipe calls for red wine, should I use red cooking wine or regular red wine? Does it make a difference? I'm trying to make a marsala-type chicken dish. Thanks!

  • Posted by: dr98
  • January 1, 2011


RobertaJ January 2, 2011
Stay away from the cooking wine ! It's nasty nasty nasty stuff. I'm glad your chicken turned out well, but it wasn't chicken "marsala", Marsala is actually a sweetish dessert wine, and has quite a distinct taste. Good news is, it keeps very well, so if you buy a bottle for a dish, you can keep it in the pantry for the next one for quite some time. Marsala, port, sherry and madeira are all in this same class. They are not the normal "drinking" wines, and they all have very distinct flavors. You can, as you found, substitute successfully, but you should be aware that the flavor profile of the dish will changed.
dr98 January 1, 2011
Thanks, all! I grabbed a bottle of red from our wine cooler and the chicken turned out well. I am a terrible cook but trying to get a bit better everyday. This site is quite helpful!
bella S. January 1, 2011
Oh my goodness, never use cooking wine. It's dreadful. You can get some very nice wines to cook with without breaking the bank. I know that it is advised that you should never use a wine for cooking that you wouldn't want to drink. However, the other side of that coin, is that there are a lot of wonderful wines that you like to drink, but can't quite afford to throw a couple of cups of into a dish. (Or, you want to drink that bottle that cost a bit more in your glass, not in the gravy.) Good wine shops can recommend a bottle of wine to use for cooking, that you can get for under $10. Barefoot Cellars has some wines that are inexpensive but good for cooking. I have used their Zin with success. And then, there is Two Buck Chuck. I know people who swear by that for their cooking wine. As opposed to our cooking wine, which is the wine we sip while cooking. That's not Barefoot Cellars or Two Buck Chuck!
nutcakes January 1, 2011
I never use cooking wine either. They only use the poorest quality and it is loaded with salt. You're better off with even two buck chuck, if you have a Trader Joe's around. They also carry Marsala and a good quality dry sherry I like to use.
amysarah January 1, 2011
Basically, I'd say never to use 'cooking wine' (if you mean the kind labeled that way, sold at the supermarket, alongside vinegars, condiments, etc.) It's full of salt, and has a chemical flavor. Does no favor to any recipe.

For most recipes, you need not splurge on a really good wine, just one that's drinkable, if not great.

You probably know this, but Marsala is a particular type of wine (a fortified one) and has a very distinct flavor. You can get a decent one for cooking pretty inexpensively at a liquor store - and a bottle will last quite a while. Chicken cooked in red wine, however, will have a very different taste than with Marsala.
vvvanessa January 1, 2011
you can use either, but the general rule is that while you don't need to break the bank, you should cook with a wine that you can stand drinking, and the red cooking wine is probably not too tasty. remember that the flavors of what you're cooking are concetrating as you are cooking them, so if a wine tastes icky in a glass, it'll tast ickier cooked down.
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