Any suggestions on good wines to use in recipes? White for Chix/Fish and Red for meat dishes and maybe a sweet wine for desserts. I'm always in a quandary when I shop for wines to cook with!! Thank you.
I like a Sauvignon Blanc for white, and a light red like Cote du Rhone or an inexpensive red blend in meat dishes. I've also read that vermouth is a good sub for white wine when in a pinch, and it lasts longer too. We usually have red hanging around, so I haven't had to find a sub for it.
As for sweet wines for (cooking?) desserts... I think the liquors are a better way to go - limoncello, kirsch, grand marnier, rum - the fruity ones are great with fruit in a compote or drizzled over pound cake topped with whatever's in season; and rum or frangelico or coffee liquors are fantastic with the more dairy-themed desserts: ice cream sundaes with a brownie base, tablespoons in pies or cakes, etc.
Personally I don't buy the whole white with fish red with meat thing - if you prefer one to the other you can still find pairings - I think the REAL trick is getting a wine guy or gal that you know and trust. We have a couple and we will go in with our planned menus and go with their suggestions. A good wine person will actually like when you do this instead of acting like it is a horrible torture! Now - finding the RIGHT wine person may require that you visit s few shops and buy a few wines until you find someone you trust - there are worse things ...
Best Advice I ever got: If you won't drink it, don't cook with it. I've known people that will cook with a wine because they think it's the right pairing but it's never something they would serve at their table. If you like the taste in a glass, you'll like it in your food.
I suggest you read Red Wine With Fish:The New Art of Matching Wine With Food a book by David Rosengarten/Joshua Wesson.
Fortified wines, like brandy and sherry and even sweet port, go well with mushrooms and a variety of meats. Herbed Port reduction sauces are wonderful with pork and beef. Just experiment a little until you find what you like. Look at a lot of recipes for the various dishes you like and you'll begin to see what wines the chefs more often pair with what foods and let that guide you.
I prefer to think "terroir"; a wine from the region with a dish from that particular region. The color code reminds me too much of Homeland Security. I have no problem offering a Spanish temperanillo with a seafood paella or a crisp frascati with trippa alla romana (roman style tripe).
I agree that you probably don't want to cook with Two Buck Chuck, but there's also no reason to splurge on wine that is going into a dish. Once wine is poured into a pan, it's lost its nuanced profile. Get nice, inexpensive wines in recent vintages. As others have suggested, match the the wine to your dish based on whether it is light, spicy, savory, etc. Perhaps do a little shopping at a wine store to get some guidance, then you will feel more confident to experiment on your own.
For chicken, wines from the French region Jura are becoming more popular here because they are very distinct and are still affordable. For fish, certainly Chablis (always from France) or Gruner Veltliner from Austria are both quite versatile but it does depend on how the fish is prepared – grilled, poached, baked….
Meat is a very broad term so I would suggest a Pinot Noir from Burgundy or if you are on a budget, wines from the Cotes-du-Rhone are also safe choices. Cotes-Du-Rhone JL Chave, 2009 is a great value wine.
Blends are good, for instance a GSM. Grenache, Syrah, Morvedre. White burgundy. Not sure I would cook with a Sauvignon blanc.
gewurstraminers are really nice for asian dishes also as they typically include five spice flavors. sweet rieslings can be good for dessert as well as sauterne, port, and even sweet vermouth. Sherry and marsala are good multi taskers. For whites try using cognac or brandy instead of wine to switch it up a bit
I agree with latoscana - don't cook with anything that tastes horrible, but don't bother cooking with nice wine either. Maybe it's because I work in the non-profit world and am poor, but there is nothing wrong with the $10.99 1.5L bottle for cooking! As long as it's not grating when you sip it, it will be fine in your food. Drink the good stuff.
I think Mr. Sohms advice is good sound advice. But, if your like me you use wine too often in cooking to always use something Imported. I like domestic wines just fine for cooking.