How To Know Which Wine Is Best For Cooking?

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Finding the right wine to cook with can be a tricky. It’s not as simple as knowing whether to grab a bottle of red or white. Depending on what you’re making, there are lots of other factors to consider. But, don’t worry. After plenty of experimentation, I can confidently share how to know which wine is best for cooking.

Never Buy “Cooking Wine” At The Grocery Store!

When it comes to cooking with wine, avoid any bottle that is labeled “cooking wine.” Cooking wine isn’t anything you’d want to cook with — it’s loaded with preservatives, sweeteners and salt, which can make your final dish taste overly sweet, salty or even metallic.

Consider Your Recipe

It all starts with the recipe you’re preparing. Pay close attention to the recipe’s instructions as often, the recipe author will share the best wine to use (like this One-Skillet Coq A Riesling which calls specifically for Riesling wine.) I also encourage you to learn a little more about different wines.

Learning about the different types of wines will make it easier for you to understand why some recipes call for specific types of reds and whites. Consider the recommendations, but go with your gut if you know another wine would work best with the ingredients.

Be Mindful of the Alcohol Level

The wine you choose needs to bring out the flavors of the dish. So, consider the level of alcohol in the wine. They all differ. Some wines have 12 percent alcohol per volume, others have nine percent. Read the label carefully. You’ll find information about whether the wine is sweet, dry, or effervescent. Wine’s alcohol content can heavily influence the taste of your food so to pick one with a mid-range level of alcohol.

Consider Your Pairing

It may sound obvious, but if you’re adding wine to recipe, it doesn’t have to be the exact same wine you are serving with your meal. But, the wine you cook with does need to be drinkable.

Specific wines tend to pair better with different categories of recipes. For example, fish entrees usually work best with white wines as opposed to reds. A nice Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc pairs well with the softer flavors of chicken or turkey. And a hearty red wine is the perfect addition to deglaze the pan for your bolognese or beef stew.

Consider Your Favorites 

Even if you’re just entering the world of wine, you might already have one or two that are your favorites. I always encourage choosing a wine you like because, above everything else, you should always drink and cook with what you enjoy.

As a rule of thumb, cook with wines you enjoy drinking. Otherwise, you have a wasted dish on your hands. Chances are you won’t like the wine you want to infuse in your meal if you don’t like how it tastes while sipping it. Think about the different aromas and flavors you tend to like. And remember, go with your gut!

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