Is there an all purpose red wine that I can use for all of my braises - lamb shanks, short ribs, pot roast, etc... I usually have merlot in the house - is that OK?
I would recommend a zinfandel, deep fruit flavors that go very well with all braises.
Merlot should work fine...any sturdy red is good for braising such as burgundy or zinfandel, also.
if it's good enough to drink (but nothing too precious) it's fine to use for cooking. the purpose of wine in a braise is to add flavor and for the acids to help break down the meat.
don't cook with junk, but don't overthink it.
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