The Right Wines for Cooking

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I love to cook with wine because it helps enhance the flavor and aroma of most food. It concentrates the deep flavors of the dish, which is why it is important to match the right dish with the right wine.

Last Sunday, I decided to make Seafood Alfredo, which is one of my favorite dishes. I sauteed the seafood in a little butter and garlic, and then added one tablespoon of rich, buttery Chardonnay. The aroma was magnificent throughout my kitchen. I also added around half a cup to the sauce and had the same wine with the dinner. The wine complemented the dish with its bright, buttery richness, and it cut through the cheese and seafood flavor deliciously.

Here are some of my recommendations for which wines to cook with:

Try to avoid the cooking wines that are usually stocked right by the vinegar in the grocery aisle. These wines are saturated with salt and preservatives. There are plenty of reasonably priced wines in the wine department that will complement your meal perfectly.

For convenience, I like to cook with the wine I drink with the meal, and of course, it’s great to sip on as you stir. If the recipe calls for dry white wine, in my opinion, a good-quality Sauvignon Blanc is perfect. Santa Rita 120, at $7.99, is a great value. It’s described as fresh, fruity and dominated by tropical and citrus fruit. For a more premium Sauvignon Blanc and one of my personal favorites, try Elizabeth Spencer ($17.99). It features honeysuckle and apple with crisp citrus fruit. Both of these wines are a great accompaniment for chicken, shellfish and salads.

If a recipe calls for dry red wine, consider the heartiness of the dish. For maybe a leg of lamb or roast beef, use a full-bodied wine like Santa Rita Cabernet Sauvignon ($7.99), with lots of black fruit, vanilla and spice. You could even use this wine for spicy sauces and cheese soufflés.

When you’re cooking Beef Bourguignon and the recipe calls for Burgundy wine made from the Pinot noir grape, an inexpensive choice would be Salmon Creek Pinot Noir ($5.99), featuring black cherry, strawberry and plum flavors. If you want to take it a notch higher, try Albert Bichot Vieilles Vignes Pinot Noir ($15.99), a true Burgundy from France that adds a mushroom character and gives your dish a mouthwatering flavor.

After working a long day, there is nothing more enjoyable than coming home to the delicious aroma of Chicken Marsala slow cooking in the crock pot. Marsala is a fortified wine made in and around the town that bears its name in Sicily, Italy. It is made with three white grapes: Catarratto, Grillo and Inzolia. When cooking Chicken Marsala, I use Florio Dry Marsala, which also comes in a sweet version, for $12.99. You can use either one, depending on your taste preference. It is also great for sipping.

I hope these suggestions are helpful. Happy cooking and enjoy!

Simone