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View Full Version : What's the deal in white wine in cooking?


Diamonds02
02-26-2010, 07:04 PM
I ate a pasta dish a while back that had white wine as an ingredient.

I told someone about the dish and how I liked it because I could taste the wine, he told me that you are not supposed to taste the wine and the wine is a "cooking" wine and not "regular" wine.

So what's the deal with wine in food, how is it supposed to be used?

squeegee
02-26-2010, 07:13 PM
"Cooking" wine is heavily salted so your teenagers / maid won't drink it. At least that's what I was told, though wiki disagrees (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooking_wine#Other_styles). That said, regular wine is used all the time in cooking, and does contribute to the flavor of the dish that it's in, although generally the alcohol boils off when the wine is heated.

freckafree
02-26-2010, 07:17 PM
I think most cooks would agree that if you wouldn't drink it, you shouldn't cook with it. You definitely would not drink what is sold as "cooking" wine.

It is not true that all the alcohol boils out of the wine. Depending how long the sauce is cooked, it's entirely possible that you tasted the wine (and its alcohol) in it. If you're not supposed to taste the wine, why in the world would you cook with it?

silenus
02-26-2010, 07:24 PM
You cook with it because there a myriad of flavors that are alcohol-soluble, not water-soluble. Wine releases these flavors into the food. That's why I always put a dollop of red wine or vermouth into my pasta sauces.

squeegee
02-26-2010, 07:25 PM
I think most cooks would agree that if you wouldn't drink it, you shouldn't cook with it. You definitely would not drink what is sold as "cooking" wine.Seconded.

It is not true that all the alcohol boils out of the wine.That's great, because I never said it did.

Depending how long the sauce is cooked, it's entirely possible that you tasted the wine (and its alcohol) in it.Alcohol != wine flavor. If you pour some red wine into a sauce, then cook it for a while (depleting the alcohol either a little or a lot), you will retain the red wine flavor. In fact, I personally think cooking the wine into the sauce for a while mingles the flavors more favorably, but YMMV. I don't speak for white wine, since I rarely cook with it, but I'd be surprised if the wine flavor disappeared as the alcohol cooked away.

If you're not supposed to taste the wine, why in the world would you cook with it?Exactly.

needscoffee
02-26-2010, 07:27 PM
Even if all the alcohol does boil off, you should still be able to taste the wine flavor. That's the whole point of adding it. It doesn't matter how long you cook it for, the flavor of the wine isn't going anywhere. (And no, it's not made with added salt.) Your friend was wrong. Cooking wine is just really bad quality wine that's not even all that cheap, considering the size of the bottle. But you can buy it in a grocery store that may not carry wines, like if you're in a dry area.

needscoffee
02-26-2010, 07:30 PM
Last night, I made slow-braised beef short ribs. I had run out of wine, but I had a bottle of non-alcoholic red wine here, and I used some of it. It was great in the dish, and there was no difference in flavor between the non-alcoholic wine and the usual stuff.

squeegee
02-26-2010, 07:36 PM
(And no, it's not made with added salt.) Your friend was wrong. Cooking wine is just really bad quality wine that's not even all that cheap, considering the size of the bottle. But you can buy it in a grocery store that may not carry wines, like if you're in a dry area.Did you read the wiki article linked above?

Cooking wine or Cooking sherry refers to inexpensive grape wine or rice wine (in Chinese and other East Asian cuisine). It is intended for use as an ingredient in food rather than as a beverage. Cooking wine typically available in North America is treated with salt as a preservative

freckafree
02-26-2010, 07:39 PM
That's great, because I never said it did.


squeegee, I can see why you thought I was contradicting you, but I hadn't seen your post when I hit "submit" on mine. My apologies to you! No harm, no foul, I hope.

squeegee
02-26-2010, 07:50 PM
squeegee, I can see why you thought I was contradicting you, but I hadn't seen your post when I hit "submit" on mine. My apologies to you! No harm, no foul, I hope.

OK, that's funny -- it looked entirely to me like you were answering my post. So I'll apologize in turn then: if I sounded terse or angry, that wasn't my intent, and I apologize for that and for misinterpreting your post.

FoieGrasIsEvil
02-26-2010, 07:53 PM
A neat trick for storing wine for cooking that's been opened/partially drank for a couple days is to pour it into an ice cube tray and freeze it. Whenever you need some wine to cook with, just pop out a couple cubes and toss into hot skillet/pan and presto! It'll keep forever.

Diamonds02
02-26-2010, 08:09 PM
A neat trick for storing wine for cooking that's been opened/partially drank for a couple days is to pour it into an ice cube tray and freeze it. Whenever you need some wine to cook with, just pop out a couple cubes and toss into hot skillet/pan and presto! It'll keep forever.

Oh, so I am not supposed to put wine back in the fridge after I've opened it?

FoieGrasIsEvil
02-26-2010, 08:16 PM
Oh, so I am not supposed to put wine back in the fridge after I've opened it?

You can certainly do that. If you're talking about wine you will also be drinking (you should always cook with wine you would also drink), I'd definitely put it in the fridge if you don't drink much daily, as it will keep much longer. But if its been laying about for a few days and close to going south, doing as I suggested will at least enable you to get more use out of it rather than pouring it down the sink.

needscoffee
02-26-2010, 08:25 PM
Did you read the wiki article linked above?No, because I was respondingto your "heavily salted so that the teenagers won't drink it" statement.

don't ask
02-26-2010, 08:29 PM
In fact, I personally think cooking the wine into the sauce for a while mingles the flavors more favorably, but YMMV.

I recently saw a show of Nigella Lawson's Express which is all about cooking good stuff utilising as many shortcuts as is practicable. It is quite interesting. She did a quick bolognese sauce (which she ate without pasta, just a bowl of meat sauce) and said almost the same thing about wine. So to get over that she used Marsala on the basis that the makers had done some of the reducing for you. Her other cunning trick in that recipe was using a jar of caramelized onions rather than starting by slowly cooking onions. They aren't available here but I keep batches of frozen caramelized onions I make in the crockpot for adding to stews or sandwiches. burgers, hot dogs etc.

silenus
02-26-2010, 08:31 PM
We've never had the problem of "leftover wine," but the freezing trick is the way to go. For everyday use, there are four-packs of Sutter Cab and Chardonnay minis available.

squeegee
02-26-2010, 08:49 PM
No, because I was respondingto your "heavily salted so that the teenagers won't drink it" statement.

That link is in the same post you were responding to, all of one sentence away.

crowmanyclouds
02-26-2010, 09:10 PM
Q: What is cooking wine? How is it different from normal table wine?
A: Holland House Cooking Wine (http://www.mizkan.com/?id=20369253881) uses premium quality wine stock and is similar to table wine except for salt added to it. The salt gives the cooking wine a longer shelf life and makes it stable in your pantry for up to 16 months after opening. Cooking wine is used as an ingredient; it is not meant to be consumed as a beverage, and is available in standard grocery stores.Holland House (http://www.mizkan.com/?id=1581470336&temp=false&brand=3) being the ubiquitous supermarket cooking swill "wine".

CMC fnord!

aruvqan
02-27-2010, 06:26 AM
Holland House (http://www.mizkan.com/?id=1581470336&temp=false&brand=3) being the ubiquitous supermarket cooking swill "wine".

CMC fnord!

that shit is the nastiest crap you can buy .... never cook with anything you wouldn't drink!

There are some very nice box wines that are great for cooking, and are about the level of mixing with fruit juice for sangria or serving over ice as the plonk you drink when nobody is around to be impressed :D

MrDibble
02-27-2010, 09:05 AM
I ... I don't think I could be friends with anyone who used a cooking "wine", much less eat their food. As for when I cook, I use the Keith Floyd-patented "one for the pot, one for me" method. So it's high-end stuff, the $4-$5 range wines.

Superfluous Parentheses
02-27-2010, 09:50 AM
I ... I don't think I could be friends with anyone who used a cooking "wine", much less eat their food. As for when I cook, I use the Keith Floyd-patented "one for the pot, one for me" method. So it's high-end stuff, the $4-$5 range wines.

I think this whole "cooking wine" idea is some American aberration, I've certainly never seen it over here in the Netherlands. I also use the high quality $4 wines for food and drink :)

Any case, I love wine in tomato sauce. AFAIK, the alcohol helps intensify the taste of tomato*, plus if you use a nice red wine, the wine itself also adds some nice rich taste to the sauce. When I don't have wine handy, I sometimes use just a little red wine vinegar.

* there are also tomato/vodka sauces. Never tried them myself, though.

zoid
02-27-2010, 10:27 AM
I ... I don't think I could be friends with anyone who used a cooking "wine", much less eat their food. As for when I cook, I use the Keith Floyd-patented "one for the pot, one for me" method. So it's high-end stuff, the $4-$5 range wines.


Damn I miss Floyd on Fish

Johnny L.A.
02-27-2010, 10:43 AM
Damn I miss Floyd on Fish

And Floyd On Food (http://www.flickr.com/photos/27492458@N05/3869651530/). 'I'll have a quick slurp...'

salinqmind
02-27-2010, 10:44 AM
Oh, pink vodka sauce is divine on pasta! I've used various jars and also made it myself.

Question: I've read you can just keep a bottle of vermouth (since it lasts forever without going bad?) around to use in place of white wine in cooking. Wouldn't that really change the taste of a dish, with the sharp herbal taste of vermouth overpowering it?

muldoonthief
02-27-2010, 02:20 PM
I think this whole "cooking wine" idea is some American aberration, I've certainly never seen it over here in the Netherlands. I also use the high quality $4 wines for food and drink :)



Part of that is because there are plenty of Americans who don't drink, but still want to make recipes that use wine. So they aren't even used to going to a liquor store, and many states in the USA do not allow supermarkets to sell alcohol, and cooking wine apparently doesn't come under this restriction. I still remember the day my teetotaler mom, somewhere north of 50, told me she had gone into a state store (PA liquor store) all by herself to buy a bottle of wine for a recipe.

Chefguy
02-27-2010, 04:57 PM
The notion that wine doesn't add flavor is just nonsense, of course. I make an au jus for prime rib that requires two bottles of cabernet. If I substituted water or broth for the wine, the flavor would not remotely resemble the same flavor. The only cooking "wine" that we ever use is rice wine vinegar, which is at least appropriately labelled.

needscoffee
02-27-2010, 05:43 PM
Part of that is because there are plenty of Americans who don't drink, but still want to make recipes that use wine. So they aren't even used to going to a liquor store, and many states in the USA do not allow supermarkets to sell alcohol, and cooking wine apparently doesn't come under this restriction. I still remember the day my teetotaler mom, somewhere north of 50, told me she had gone into a state store (PA liquor store) all by herself to buy a bottle of wine for a recipe.I grew up in a dry town where this the only way to get wine to cook with unless you travelled a ways away.

drastic_quench
02-27-2010, 09:56 PM
I cook with wine, vermouth, and beer at times. I love deglazing a pan with wine. I'm going to try some red in my next batch of chili. I usually use coffee and beer, which is actually quite nice after eight hours in the Crock Pot.

Teacake
02-28-2010, 06:36 AM
If you want something that will keep, but don't want the vermouth flavour, get a bottle of sherry or ginger wine. I tend to have one of each in the kitchen just in case - like if my partner isn't here and I don't want to open a nice bottle by myself, or if I really don't need much. And you really should never cook with something that isn't nice. If it tastes bad to drink, it'll taste bad in the food. You shouldn't be able to taste alcohol - that's what gives a metallic flavour if you under-reduce a sauce, for instance - but you should be able to taste all the other elements of the wine. If you're not used to judging by taste whether the alcohol's all cooked off, lean over the pan and take a deep breath. Your sinuses will tell you whether you breathed in water steam or alcohol vapour.

Oslo Ostragoth
03-01-2010, 12:33 AM
My $0.02.

Cooked wine is as different from bottle wine as cooked tomatoes are different from raw tomatoes.

If a recipe wants you to reduce ingredient X in a cup of white (not cooking) wine, do it. It works because the wine is changed.

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