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Cooking Wine

How long can you store a regular bottle of wine versus cooking wine? I've always heard that cooking wine is quite inferior to regular wine. My problem is that we do not drink wine at all. I'd like to cook with some wine, but if I use a 1/2 cup or so, I'll have no use for the wine until the next recipe that calls for it.

Can I just store it in the refrigerator indefinitely? I am assuming that cooking wine has more preservatives that enable it to last longer.

Am I stuck with cooking wine?


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  1. I would suggest not using cooking wine. Instead, buy an inexpensive wine, and freeze what you don't use.

    1. Agree do not to buy "cooking wine." It is loaded with salt. In my experience, you can keep an open bottle of wine in the fridge for at least a month with no ill effect for use in cooking -- maybe more. Our standard "house" red for cooking is TJ's "2 buck chuck," which is $3 by us. Probably no more expensive than most "cooking wine."

      1. MMRuth and Masha are right. An easy way to freeze is to pour into an ice cube tray. Once frozen, put in a freezer bag or other container. Put water in three or four cube compartments, pour into a measuring cup to figure out how many cubes you'd need to equal 1/2 cup. Then you'll have an idea of how many cubes to grab for whatever dish you're making, whether it's 1/2 cup, 1 cup, or 2 Tablespoons.

        5 Replies
        1. re: nemo

          Nemo, it sounds like you've done this so here is my question: what am I doing wrong with this wine freezing business? I have tried to take my leftover Shiraz to the frozen stage several times now and the best I have managed is 'wine slushy', certainly not cubes of a consistency to put in a bag.

          I should just add that my freezer is cold enough to prime my Krups Ice Cream Maker to make ice cream in less than 30 minutes.

          1. re: LJS

            Alcohol has antifreeze properties, so maybe your Shiraz has enough alk to keep things from freezing solid?

            1. re: stilton

              Yeah, that is sort of what I was thinking...but surely it doesn't have appreciably MORE than other wines?

              I love the theory of this freezing in cubes stuff...but if, for example you put limoncello in the freezer, you don't expect it to freeze, because of the alcohol content.

              Do some wines really have so little alcohol that they do make nice tidy cubes? has anyone actually achieved this?

              1. re: LJS

                There is usually a large variance in alcohol amounts between Old World and New World wines. If you want your wines to freeze, stick with Old World, a la France, Italy, etc. Those Aussie/CA shiraz can have 15%-plus alcohol!

                1. re: invinotheresverde

                  Thank you: I had not idea...no wonder one glass is my limit. And here I was thinking I was getting old...you have brightened my day and solved the mystery of the cubes that aren't!

        2. Another option is to purchase half bottles of wine.

          1. I rarely drink wine so I had the same predicament as well. My solution is to buy the little four pack mini-wine bottles that several large producers sell. Each bottle winds up being a little less than a cup, so one bottle is usually sufficient in most recipes. They range in price from 6 bucks to 10; however the selection is not great. Of whites, there's usually only Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and Sauvignon Blanc. It's perfectly fine for cooking though and no more wasted 750ml bottles crowding the fridge.

            1. They have new packaging called tetra packs, they have a plastic screw cap great for cooking.

              The website shows larger portions, but they make 300ml.

              1. Cardinal rule for cooking with wine:
                "If you wouldn't drink it, don't cook with it"
                I find that, once I've opened a bottle of wine as an ingredient in one of my recipes, I sometimes have some left in the bottle after dinner. I used a wine bottle vacuum (nothing fancy - I think I gave about ten bucks for the vacuum pump and stopper at the local kitchen gadget store) to evacuate the air from the bottle before storing it in the refrigerator. I use wine in cooking with some degree of regularity so it doesn't remain in the frig. for more than a week or so but I've found that it's still suitable for cooking after that length of time.

                2 Replies
                1. re: todao

                  Actually, the New York Times did a taste test about a year ago to assess that maxim and concluded that using inexpensive bottles of wine (but not "cooking wine") is generally fine. The Times specifically tested recipes like braised short ribs, which takes an entire bottle of wine, and the conclusion was that the dish prepared with the inexpensive bottle was not inferior.

                  1. re: masha

                    I have been amused on more than one occasion by those who insisted one should cook with the wine one is going to drink.

                    Some drinkable wine, yes, but while I like my boeuf bourginon to be somewhat authentic, I don't need it so authentic that I am preparing it with an $80 bottle of aged Burgundy. $8 Jadot Bourgogne, come on into my kitchen.

                2. Never ever EVER use cooking wine. It's mostly salt.

                  If you can't buy the little pony bottles of wine (Sutter Home has little four-packs of a basic chardonnay or cab), you can freeze it in ice cube trays from a full bottle and defrost as needed.

                  1. As others have mentioned, cooking wine is not an option - it's pretty bad stuff loaded with salt. I remember once (and only once) buying a bottle for a recipe and tried it out of curiosity - I threw it out and got a real bottle.

                    The main point is that you want to use a wine that is drinkable in the general sense and has the characteristics that your recipe calls for. Get the four-packs as they store easily and are perfectly fine for cooking purposes.

                    If you foresee not using the remainder of one bottle, pour it into a smaller container and refrigerate, or measure and freeze it in plastic ziplock bags with the fluid amount on the bags.

                    If you get the four-pack, you obviously will have remaining bottles that might not be used for a while. Although they're probably not going to be temperamental like finer wines, they still can degrade, so store them somewhere relatively cool and out of the sunlight.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: bulavinaka

                      They'll fit right on the fridge door shelves, heck probably get remaining three in butter area.

                      1. re: FrankJBN

                        Not in our fridge, but yes, if one can spare the room, by all means! Agreed on your $8 bottle of Jadot - save the truly good stuff for where it belongs - pleasing your palate...

                    2. Never, never never use cooking wine. I have had excellent results using dry vermouth for white wine in all kinds of cooking and it keeps for months without refrigeration. To keep red wine for a few days or maybe a week, pour it into a plastic water bottle and squeeze out all the air before you screw the lid back on. To keep longer, boil it in a saucepan until reduced by about 1/3 and freeze in ice cube trays. When frozen you can move to a zip-top bag - each frozen cube is about 2 tablespoons.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Puddin taine

                        Vermouth - I'd forgotten about that - a great suggestion, though I think it's better where small quantities of wine are called for.

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          I use it as the first liquid to go into my Risotto after I sauteed the rice and shallots in butter and evoo.

                      2. No such thing as cooking wine...only wine that is good enough to drink...They do make very small, almost "to go" individuall sizes of some decent wines at the moment...That would be perfect as there would be little left over...Instead of freezing it, give it to a friend that drinks wine!

                        1. I use cooking wine, and proudly, too!
                          A Chinese cook I respect recommended cooking wine from the Republic of China, and I tried it.
                          Yes, it is salty, but every savory course I make needs some salt, so that is not a problem.
                          What is amazing is the proximity to sherry: the same flavour and nutty aroma.
                          And it is only $3 a bottle at any Asian store.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: jayt90

                            I think you're referring to Chinese cooking wine - if so, that gets a pass-go...

                          2. A wine box would be an answer. Smallest size here in the UK is 4 bottles but it keeps fresh for months and could provide visitors with a glass or two.

                            Alternatively just become a wino. I did. It's great.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Robin Joy

                              I want to second this. Box wine lasts seemingly forever, especially in the fridge. If it's half-empty, you probably want to drink it up within a couple weeks, but for cooking it should last many months before you start to get any vinegary flavors.

                              And the tap is quite nice for pouring into a measuring cup.

                            2. I've never heard of cooking wine...While I haven't used the tetra packs myself I've got a friend that is a non-drinker that uses them and loves them. You might have to ask at your local bottleshop, I know they're kept behind the counter at the store she buys them from.

                              I just use whatever wine I am drinking but if I have some leftover to freeze (yes I admit, not often a problem!). I use the ice cube bags. They seel over completely so it doesn't matter if it is a bit slushy and then you can just pop out what you don't need. I've only ever kept wine in the fridge a couple of days at the most. After that it seems to turn and doesn't taste right. If I cant drink it I don't cook with it.