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Jan 26, 2007 06:21 AM

Vermouth vs. Wine

I've seen the discussion string talking about which wines to use for cooking. But, I have more questions pertaining to Vermouth vs. Wine in cooking.

I don't usually keep wine in the house (because it never lasts and especially not white). I want something that I could substitute for white wine in cooking. Is the Vermouth the right replacement? Will it keep better once it's opened? How should I store it after opening? How long can I keep it after opening? AND what is the major difference in cooking with Vermouth vs. wine?

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  1. Vermouth is a dry white wine enhanced with herbs. I prefer French vermouth, Noilly Pratt is what I buy. It will last a very long time if you keep it tightly closed and in a cool dark cupboard.

    11 Replies
    1. re: Candy

      Thanks! That helps a lot. I knew I could count on a fell chowhound to help me out!

      1. re: Candy

        Agreed on the Noilly Prat. Its flavor is not diminished by cooking with it. I am not a martini guy so vermouth will last a lot longer in my house than any bottle of white wine possibly would. Keep it stored out of sunlight or in the fridge. Julia Child championed vermouth in many, many of her recipes.

        I have been tempted to buy a pack of sauvignon blanc in mini-bottles to have handy for cooking but have not done so yet.

        1. re: CDouglas

          Are you aware that they are changing the Noilly Prat formula to a sweeter product?!? I just read about it in the Wall Street Journal:

          Any suggestions for a different brand? I recall Cooks Illustrated recommending a good inexpensive brand a couple years ago, I want to say it was Gallo but not sure...

          1. re: mlle noëlle

            THANK YOU for explaining this mystery: I have always used Noilly Prat for cooking. But the last time I bought it, the bottle had changed--I didn't think anything of it at time. When I used it for the first time (in onion soup) it had sort of an odd, sweet aroma. So I tasted some and found it to be very sweet (though, I must admit, tasty--I felt compelled to have a little glass on the rocks with lemon). Strange, I thought, especially since it was labelled "original dry." I looked around at their web site, assuming this was a new product or something, but concluded that the packaging had just changed and that it had ALWAYS been that sweet but I was just not very observant. Good to hear that my powers of observation have not failed. My hope is that this will prove to be a marketing blunder along the lines of New Coke and that they will bring back the drier version in short order.

            1. re: zamorski

              I thought I saw something about NP people seeing the error of their ways and have already gone back to the original. The bottle I have on hand right now is the original, no change to the label or taste. I guess I will know for sure the next time I purchase.

              1. re: Candy

                That's too bad about the NP changing. You could also try dry Marsala or sherry. I use them in lieu of wine (IF the recipe isn't picky - of course some recipes really require the right wine). They have shelf life as vermouth.

                1. re: Mawrter

                  Sherry and marsala are good for cooking but they add their own nutty flavour, so I would not consider them interchangable with white wine in most recipes.

                  1. re: zamorski

                    Neither do I. That's why I said certain recipes really require the right wine.

            2. re: mlle noëlle

              CI recommends Gallo and it works fine. I may have liked NP because it was the vermouth I always used for cooking. A sweeter version would not be the direction I would want to go in the dishes I use it for.

              Vya may be an alternative to old NP but it looks to be twice as expensive. It may be time to research boxed wines.

            3. re: CDouglas

              I, like you, seldom have an opened bottle of white, that sees dusk, the next day.

              However, my Noilly Prat (used primarily for guests' martinis), does last.

              Still, I normally have a bottle of white handy (usually being poured, as we cook), so do not reach for the Vermouth that often.


            4. re: Candy

              But I found out today there's dry and sweet types of vermouth so now what?...I'm thinking dry would be better for an entree ( lobster) but the saleslady said it was more complicated than that

            5. They taste different, but not wildly so. As candy has said, vermouth has herbal flavors added.

              It also is fortified by adding extra alcohol which helps it to be shelf stable over longer periods.

              It usually a good sub for white wine in cooking.

              Remember though, that you can freeze leftover wine for later use (cooking not drinking). You can also buy wine in small individual bottles and in boxes and other sealed containers.

              1. I had no idea you could freeze wine. As for the small individual bottles of wine, are they good enough quality to cook with? I've read (someplace called guys know the place?) that you shouldn't cook with anything you're not going to drink. I've tried some of those box white wines, I have to tell ya, they were a waste of good calories. I must have tried the worst ones of the bunch!

                3 Replies
                1. re: calla0413

                  The quality of wines available in alternate sizes has improved tremendously in recent years. There are good Australian and New Zealand white out there that make small bottles, like Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc.

                  1. re: calla0413

                    Yes, you most certainly should not cook with anything not good enough to drink. However, once drinkable wine has been open a few days and starts to taste a little duller, you can make ice cubes from the leftover wine, which work great in cooking. It sounds very Nigella or Rachel Ray-esque, but I like it nonetheless.

                    Btw, do stores sell wine a lot of wine in smaller quantities than 375 ml? Unless you're having a red wine fix at an airport/museum cafe or Sbarro-esque fast food chain, I fail to see the point of such containers (though I admit those stylish little bottles of Piper Heidsieck are very cute).

                    1. re: calla0413

                      Stone Cellars by Beringer makes wine in 187ml (roughly 6oz.) bottles. In the attached article from 2005 the 187ml bottles had sales of $68 million for the year. Someone is buying and liking them.

                    2. True, you should only cook with drinkable wine, but there's no reason to spend $$ on wine you are going to cook with -- particularly WHITE wine. I can't remember brand names off the top of my head, but more and more are bottling in single size servings, and I recall seeing a decent brand in the little bottle recently.

                      RE: boxed wines, many good restaurants use boxed wines to cook with, actually, since they use so much of it and keeps so well. I have no personaly experience with boxed wines but some of my chowish chef friends and excellent home cooks swear by it.

                      I usually have a big bottle of pretty inexpensive dry, unoaked white in the fridge that I both cook with and drink because I am much fussier about red wine and don't want to cook with better white.

                      Wine freezes but most of the time not solidly. I portion it and ziplock it tight. Thaw it completely. Works fine for cooking.

                      1. vermouth will basically keep forever, and will offer you consistency. something like a nz sauvignon blanc has so much acidity it will be like adding another lemon to the recipe.

                        calla, i have to agree, i've never tried wine out of a bag or a box that i wanted another sip of, never mind to cook with or buy again. ack.