What kind of wine do you use for recipes?

Two recipes on our dinner menu this week call for wine. White wine for the linguini with clams. And red wine for the meat in the crock pot.

But neither specify which type of white or red wine is best.

I know what I like to drink, but I’m not sure what is best in recipes. I just went to the store and found the cheapest white and red I could find, but I’m not sure that’s the best tactic.

What kind of wine do you buy for recipes? Does it matter what kind of recipe it is? Tips?

Usually you want a dry wine. I use Chardonnay for white and Cabernet for red. And use the cheap stuff-- I usually go $5 - $8. You won’t be able to tell the difference if you use something more expensive. Unless, of course, you want to drink what’s left over. Still, you can get some decent wines in that price range.

Bulldookie. Never cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink on its own. As for sweet vs dry, it all depends on what you’re cooking. Every dish calls for something different. Some need a sweet white, some need a dry red, some need a port, some need champagne. In any case, never use a wine you wouldn’t drink all by itself. Poor wine makes poor food.

While in general that’s true, there is some credibility to the "don’t cook with what you wouldn’t drink* mantra, but only in certain cases. Generally, if a LOT of the flavor of the wine will come through in the final dish (say, for instance, a reduced red wine sauce for a steak,) then go for at least a mid-range quality wine. But if the wine is getting mixed with a lot of other ingredients, which is often the case with a lot of recipes using white wines, then yeah, the cheapo stuff is fine.

How do you know if you need sweet vs. dry if the recipe doesn’t say? And if I don’t like Chardonnay, does that mean I shouldn’t cook with it?

Don’t these recipe makers know I need explicit instructions?! I am not a “just a pinch of this” cooker until I really know the dish.

Give me an example of what you are cooking. A general guideline would be to default to a drier wine, as John Mace suggested. If you don’t like Chard, and I don’t, then use a Sauvignon Blanc. Sweeter wines work better in sweeter dishes, most of the time. There are some stews that need a Malmsey or a Madiera or a port, but the recipe usually calls for a specific style of wine in those cases. You usually won’t go wrong by using a California Cab when the recipe calls for a red wine.

Sorry, but you’re wrong.

It Boils Down to This: Cheap Wine Works Fine

So I guess the lesson is: use whatever gives you the results you like.

I use a gewurtztraminer for white wine cooking. Never really use red since I don’t cook red meat.

With a few exceptions, using expensive wine in a recipe is just a pretentious way to waste money. Sure, if it’s poached pears or champagne jelly, you might choose to use something a bit special, but for long cooking times - dishes like braised pork, so much alteration goes on in the cooking process that the initial drinking qualities of the wine are just irrelevant.

Doesn’t make any difference. You’ll never find a cheap-ass wine in my house, so the dish is always going to have a decent wine in it. When Moskin has some people back up her work, then I might reconsider. Until then, Julia Child is my guiding light.

Huh. My Friends The Cooks all say that cheap wine works just fine for cooking. “Go get me a bottle of some nice Chilean red, and a bottle of El Tiempo for the stew.” One says to play it safe, though, and buy one of those three-liter boxes of wine; you can squeeze out however much you need for the recipe and then drink the rest while cooking. (Cooks are lushes, though, so…) :wink:

I cook with that crap-ass for drinking cooking wine. It’s basically wine with a ton of salt or vinegar, or something sour. My dishes come out fine.

My interpretation of the rule has always been to not cook with a wine you couldn’t drink. That is, don’t use “cooking wine”, and don’t use the cheapest plonk you can find, but a respectable sub-$10 bottle is fine.

In fact, the Cook’s Illustrated people had good things to say about boxed wine for cooking a while back. The spigot makes for easy measuring, the box n’ bladder system gives it a long shelf life (they retested it after seven weeks, and it was still fine), and their Coq au Vin did as well with the boxed wine as it did with their $10 Cotes du Rhone standard.

The best general rule is to use whatever you’d like to drink with it. Use what you need, and drink the rest.

When you cook with wine, you pour it into a hot pan, you dissolve “burnt” bits of meat in it, you cook off most of the the alcohol, you mix it with some combination of sugar, herbs, salt, pepper, tomatoes, whatever, and stock.

I don’t think you NEED a good wine for something like that.

If you’re cooking something like Coq Au Vin, or Braised Short Ribs, you might be using 2+ cups of wine. I’ll be god damned if I’m pouring $15 worth of a $20 bottle of wine into that.

To the OP: box wine has gotten much better over the years, while remaining relatively cheap. Pay the upfront costs of $20 for 4 bottles worth of wine, and it’s a perfect solution for people who don’t cook/drink very often. Most stuff that calls for red (beef, sausage, pork, chicken on the skin & bone) will stand up fine to a cabernet, so you might look into a box of that.

Herein is the truth.

Which is basically what I said in my first post. I didn’t say use bad wine, I just said don’t use expensive wine. I cook with wine in the $5 - $8 range that I wouldn’t normally buy to drink, but that I don’t mind have a glass or two of while I’m cooking. For me, that’s a “cheap” wine-- especially a red.

I agree with my friend silenus here. I would never go out and buy a bottle of cheap wine to use in a recipe, and I would never use a wine that I would not drink in anything I cook.

Life is too short to drink bad wine

Thanks for all of the replies! I think I’m going to solve the problem with just getting a cheap version of Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet unless the recipe calls otherwise.

Thanks again!

I use the $5-8 wine for cooking, myself. I use a rose for reds, and a chablis blanc for whites.

I use Two Buck Chuck (Charles Shaw from Trader Joe’s) for cooking wine, and it’s never done me wrong. I almost always use their Sauvignon Blanc for white and the Cabernet for red.