One of my most frequently asked questions is “What wines are good to cook with?”
In my professional opinion, no, you should not cook with wines found down the grocery isle labeled “cooking wine.” These wines are saturated with salt and preservatives. I believe that if I want to add salt to my dish, it should be my decision, not the wine producers. However, I don’t stick my nose up at value wines that I might not drink. The rule of thumb is to never cook with a wine you would not drink. I only half believe this. I would never drink “cooking wine,” since as it says in bold letters on the bottle it is “NOT FOR SALE OR USE AS A BEVERAGE.” However, nowadays there are so many great values on the market that you can normally find a good quality, drinkable wine for right around $5. Will you see me filling a 4 pack of Crane Lake $3.99 wines to take home and enjoy? Probably not. Would I cook with them? Sure.
Here is a list of my favorite wines to cook with – all under $10.
When making a meal that has a citrus zip to it, like Mussels, Lemon Chicken with artichoke, or a light summer pasta, I like to use Xplorador Sauvignon Blanc at $6.99. Chilean Sauvignon Blancs have a racy acidity that packs a citrusy punch. I also like Terra Andina and Santa Rita 120 Sauvignon Blanc, both are $7.99
For Roast Chicken or Pork dishes, I like to use a medium bodied Chardonnay or white blend like 1492’s Chardonnay, Viogner, Chenin Blanc Blend. available for $5.99. La Vieille Ferme White Cotes Du Luberon ($7.99) and Columbia Crest Two Vines Chardonnay ($7.99) work well too.
Cooking Beef Bourguignon? I like to use a good quality French Pinot Noir such as Pinot Evil’s. I have also used and recommend, 1492’s red Blend of Merlot, Sangiovese, and Bonarda ($5.99) as well as the Cotes Du Rhone Cellier Des Chartreux ($7.99.)
Other big bold reds I would recommend would be Santa Rita 120 Cabernet Sauvignon ($7.99) for its concentrated black fruit flavors, and Wyndam Estates Bin 555 Shiraz ($8.99) for its supple fruity quality.
So, next time you’re in, please let me know if you have tried any of these in your favorite dishes or what your favorite wines to cook with are!