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Sep 10, 2009 11:18 AM

Help with where to find small bottles of (good) wine in Boston area?

After savoring the deliciousness that is Fore St's wood-oven roasted mussels, I'm determined to recreate this at home after I found the recipe. The only problem is that I don't drink, and can't drink for health reasons, so I know zilch about where to find good wine for cooking.

Do small bottles of good wine exist? I'd hate to waste a nice bottle of good stuff, only to use about 1/4 cup and then toss it out. Most of my friends are also non-drinkers so giving the stuff away isn't really an option. If they do exist, anyone have recommendations on the best place with a decent selection to choose from? The recipe calls specifically for dry white wine, so any ideas or thoughts on a good place to hunt for that would be appreciated. Thanks!

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  1. How good does the wine really have to be? I mean, not rot-gut, but you're not going to taste that much in cooked mussels, are you? I use modestly priced wine, say from $5-$10 a bottle for cooking all the time. Hell, you could find a decent dry white, like a Pinot Grigio, at Trader Joe's for $3.99 a bottle....why not do that?

    5 Replies
    1. re: galleygirl

      I wouldn't know because I never drink or buy wine. ;-) If there are decent wines out there for cheap, all the better, but I just need to know where to look and perhaps any recommendations for what to pick up. Waste is waste, and I sitll hate the thought of buying something only to throw 95% of it out.

      What I didn't want was to head to the local supermarket where they will sell those little bottles of wine, because I've always heard they're crap.

      1. re: kobuta

        Exactly, "ccoking wine" is crap, becasue it has enough saltin it to render it undrunkable...Just go to your nearest liquor store or TraderJoe's, and ask for a decent cheap, dry white, like a Pinot Grigio or French tablewhite... You're only using it as a flavoring broth. The old saying is, "Don't cook with anything you wouldn'tdrink",but those of the wines many of us (ahem) have on the table everyday. As long as it isn't sour or corked, you're fine. You could even tell them you're using it for cooking, and don't want to spend a lot. To be perfectly honest, and someone may disagree with me here, I don't know why you couldn't just freeze the remainder in ice cube trays to use for the next time you roast mussels..Or, alternatively, you can use wine in place of part of the stock or water in many recipes, so you could do that...

        1. re: galleygirl

          Like galleygirl says, you absolutely can freeze wine. I've done it on several occasions (not that I have leftover wine very often!) Ice cube trays would work well, and take-out plastic deli containers work, too. You could freeze it in single-serving sizes to make things easier. Keeping it in the fridge also works quite well.

          A couple of weeks ago, my son made a delicious beurre blanc using some leftover Gallo chablis that had been open in the cabinet for a few weeks...can't get much cheaper than that!

          1. re: bear

            Really, what is this thing of which you speak, 'leftover wine'?

        2. re: kobuta

          As galleygirl said, you certainly won't have to spend more than $10 to get something good enough for this use. I'm sure the restaurant doesn't spend more than $10 on whatever wine they use. Go to a local wine store (not the grocery store) and have them help you.

          If you're worried about waste, why not invite some friends over and make a ton? If you cork up the wine immediately after pouring out what you need, it will stay good in the refrigerator for about 3 days. Cook something else with it in that time frame!

          Better yet, make a small amount of mussels three nights in a row using the same wine and try to perfect your technique.

      2. If the concern about throwing it out is because of oenophiles' abhorrence of storing opened botttles in the refrigerator, it's needless. I take meds that preclude alcohol consumption, but I do cook with wine and keep the bottles refrigerated until they are used, which sometimes is a year or more. I buy whatever white or pinot noir is cheapest at Costco.

        1 Reply
        1. re: greygarious

          I agree, while not optimal for drinking you can keep an open bottle of white or red wine in the fridge for months and they will still be fine for cooking.

          And there is certainly no need to spend more than $5 or $6 for wine for cooking unless you are making something like boeuf bourguignon or coq au vin.

        2. As many have already suggested, you don't have to spend a lot of money, and if you go to a reputable store, and explain your need, you will won't be led astray.

          I find Trader Joe's an excellent source of good-enough wine to be used in cooking. For example, when making beef stew, TJ's can be counted on for a bottle of red Cotes-du-Rhone for $5 or so. I will also admit to using Two-Buck-Chuck of the appropriate color/varietal when I need only a small amount of wine for a recipe and don't want to open a bottle just for that purpose. Two-Buck-Chuck actually costs $3/bottle; it is what people call TJ's own-label of generic whatever. It is not gourmet stuff, but it is not defective, either.

          1. Thanks, everyone! Sounds like a trip to Trader Joe's is in order.

            6 Replies
            1. re: kobuta

              Could you link to the recipe?

              1. re: kobuta

                Is this the recipe?
                A stick of butter??? A STICK of butter!!!

                1. re: galleygirl

                  Its only 1/4 of a stick per serving. :)

                  1. re: galleygirl

                    Yep, that's the one! And might I add, they were the best mussels I have ever had. I'm hoping a regular oven will produce results just as good, but if you ever dine at Fore St, they are not to be missed.

                    1. re: kobuta

                      I'm guessing that if you wanted to come as close as possible to replicating the oven, heating a pizza stone in a 500 degree oven, for an hour, like one does for pizza or bread would give the best results...