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In praise of cheap wine

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Julia Moskin at the NY Times tests various recipes with different "grades" of wine. Interesting results: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/21/din...

Thanks to Nigella, I also discovered ages ago that vermouth is a nice substitute for white wine in cooking--good for those of us who don't drink so much and don't want to open a bottle just for a recipe. Anyone got any good suggestions about a long-lasting red?

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  1. If you buy a vacu-vin (rubber suction thingie that creates a vacuum so the wine doesn't oxidize), you can keep a red (in a cool, dark place) for weeks.

    1. I was tickled to see my fave Two Buck Chuck in there - that's my main cookin' wine, both the cab and the chardonnay. The cab I will even drink!

      What bossanova is saying makes sense - if you keep the wine cool and out of the light, the only real enemy is oxygen, which makes it taste very nasty. That said, simply keeping it corked in the fridge, while dulling the flavor too much for pleasant drinking, does also hold off the oxidizing process almost indefinitely - to make sense of this, just remember that rapid oxidation is also called "burning"!

      1. Most of my buddies with restaurants keep a large box of red and one of white in their walk-ins....

        1. I avoid that problem by keeping mini-bottle four-packs on hand for cooking. You won't always find the greatest wine in that format, but, as the Times makes clear (vindication!), you don't need the greatest wine for cooking.

          1. You don't really need a long lasting red, just freeze the excess. Take an ice cube tray and freeze what you don't drink. Put the cubes in a zip lock in the freezer and you'll have it the next time you cook.

            1. I usually do use inexpensive wines for cooking. But recently I made a Garlic Chicken from Patricia Wells Provence Cookbook with a ultra cheap-o $2.00 white that was in the house (can't remember if it was Charles Shaw or Redwood Creek) and it tasted distinctly off to me. I do think the red versions of these cheepies have slightly less off flavors than the whites for some reason.

              2 Replies
              1. re: coconutz

                Would port work? I've used port in sauces that have fruit in them (i.e. dried cherries). Seems to keep longer than red wine.
                I've never tried it in long-simmering or braising-type dishes though.

                1. re: mightycheesehead

                  No. Port has a distinct flavor and goes with some fruits. For simmered or braised dishes you might add a small amount as an accent but not as the main liquid, it's too distinct and sweet.

              2. Good article. I can report that I successfully made a buerre blanc that turned out lovely, using an under-$5 (maybe it was under-$4) sauvingnon blanc from Trader Joe's: Barefoot. That's a nice wine to cook with.

                1. If a recipe calls for a "dry white wine" and I have an open bottle of chard or sauv blanc, I'll often use three-quarters of what I have leftover for the wine and then add some vermouth to dry it out further if necessary. In fact - did it last night - works like a charm and you'd never be able to tell. This method also works great for risotto.