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Nov 28, 2006 03:48 PM

Cooking with wine - does quality matter?

I've heard that you can cook with just about anything.. Do I dare use Trader Joe's 2-Buck Chuck in my coq au vin?

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  1. You should never cook with something that you would not drink! The flavors in the wine go into the food.

    1 Reply
    1. re: bethd127

      "You should never cook with something that you would not drink!"

      If only because you'll have to drink the leftovers.

    2. I tend to disagree. I find that, unless the wine is the sauce, you can pretty much use anything. In fact, if it's a subtle background flavour, I find cheaper is better. Like for a tomato sauce or something. A cheap bottle that says "Red" will work fine. Same deal for marinating.



      1 Reply
      1. re: Davwud

        No way. Cheap wine will introduce off flavors into your dish every time. Figure if you're cooking with it, you're reducing the liquid and concentrating the flavor. So if it tastes bad to begin with, you're amplifying that. I find the $7-$10/bottle range is good. A Ravenswood Vinters Blend, Big House Red (or white), or similar.

      2. many moons ago i tried using 2 buck chuck for my coq au vin and it was awful. the recipe called for a bottle of good burgundy, but i couldn't couldn't convince myself that throwing in an entire bottle of gevery-chambertin was a good idea. so i thought maybe the chuck would be suffice. i was wrong.

        i can understand the philosophy of not cooking with anything you wouldn't drink, but sometimes i don't feel like cracking open, and therefore drinking, an entire bottle of good wine just so i can deglaze my pan for a sauce. for everyday cooking i'll keep some low-end wine in the fridge. for a dish where wine is a major ingredient, like coq au vin, it makes more of a difference. i still won't break out a nice burgundy, but maybe a more reasonably-priced american pinot noir.

        1. If it tastes bad, it'll make the dish taste bad.

          The Charles Shaw cabernet sauvignon I've had isn't bad, it's just bland. I'd use it to deglaze a pan. I have done.

          However, for a classic coq au vin, where a whole bottle of wine dominates the flavor of the finished dish, I'd use (1) something with more character, and (2) the traditional pinot noir. Living in California, I'd look for an $8 New Zealand pinot.

          1. I totally agree that in something like coq au vin or boeuf bourguignon, the quality of the wine matters very much. The wine is the very essence of the dish, flavoring both the meat and sauce.

            I'm not a big 2Buck Chuck fan to begin with, but I'd definitely recommend something better. I echo a decent moderately priced pinot noir.