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Oct 1, 2009 08:41 AM

The best wine for Julia's Beef Bourguignon?

A question for any of you that has made JC's BB. I'm curious as to what wine you used. I made the BB yesterday. First time I've actually followed a step by step recipe like this but wanted to make it one time exactly as written in my Mothers old 'The French Chef Cookbook.'

The BB turned out good. Much nicer than my usual throw it together beef stew with a splash of red wine, but I think it would have been even better with the proper red wine. I'm not much of a drinker of red wine, I do cook with it but usually in small amounts at a time, so the flavor of the wine in my dishes have never been as noticeable as it was in this recipe.
I left the selection of a good red wine to use up my DH. His choice was an an Australian Red labeled [yellow tail] SHIRAZ.
I feel my DHs selection was far too bitter/strong for this dish. I knew the wine flavor would be more prominant as the recipe does call for 3 cups, and was prepared for that, but I was not prepared for the almost bitter after taste. I believe a mellower red or tastier red would have been a better selection .

JCs recipe is well worth taking the time to do the step by step as it is good, and I will make it again, but, I'd like to improve on it before I do.

So, any suggestions from all you red wine lovers out there would be muchly appreciated!
Thanks so much

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  1. Bourguinion calls for Burgundy, as the name implies.

    13 Replies
    1. re: phillyjazz

      Well I'm not sure what happened to my last entry, but..

      phillyjazz, I found your reply a bit odd. As in almost implying, boy are you stupid odd.
      I not a wine connosisseur, I don't drink red wine or "burgundy" wine, I don't really know the difference in the two at all. If wine comes into my home its from friends or because my DH decided to purchase a bottle. I use whatever is left for cooking as I've never had to use much of it. With this special dish I do.

      Hence my original question as to what favorite red wine or "burgundy" does everyone prefer for cooking?
      I was merely looking for advice, a name, a brand thats good, as in better than the one I used.

      I do thank you for taking the time to reply though..

      1. re: Joyfull

        Hi Joyfull. Burgundy is a region in France, and the red wine made there is from Pinot Noir grapes. It's not cheap, although it can be wonderful. I don't usually use "real" Burgundy when I make BB (too expensive), however, if you'd like to try it and if there is a Trader Joe's store near you, you can pick up a Burgundy there fairly reasonably (not sure of the brand name, but the folks at TJ will help you). I do always use the Pinot Noir varietal when I make BB; sometimes I use a Pinot Noir from Oregon such as Duck Pond. You can also find French wines labeled vin d'pays Pinot Noir (vin d'pays means table wines, and they are reasonably priced) ; that's another option I often choose. I'd steer away from Pinot Noirs made in CA; to my palate they taste a bit plastic. Hope this helps :-)

        1. re: Niki in Dayton

          Niki has some good suggestions.

          OP, basically what you're looking for is a wine lower in alcohol and overtly fruity ripeness, and higer acidity. In general, this leads you to Old World wines, like those from France, Italy, Spain, etc. Try to stay away from most offerings from warmer climates (Australia, CA)- I find them too jammy, juicy and high in alcohol to be much good for cooking.

          The Yellow Tail Shiraz would be one of the worst wines you could've made this dish with, from varietal to maker (it's pure gasoline to begin with). You'll like the dish ten times better next time you make it.

          If you don't already have a trusted local wine vendor, and I'm pretty sure you don't, now is a good time to befriend one. Simply go to your local wine store and ask questions. People who work in wine stores love to talk about wine- they're not in it for the $8 an hour. It's hard to give specific rec's here because availability varies greatly from state to state.

          1. re: Niki in Dayton

            Thanks Niki
            I'm in Canada so no TJ's. We've got government liquor stores, a few private liquor stores plus private beer and wine stores.
            I just did a quick search on our govt liquor store website and found the Duck Pond from Oregon, plus other Pinot Noirs. I'll scan through those in a bit too. I also found a fairly reasonable Bourgogne Pinot Noir from Burgundy France that looked interesting and wondered if you knew anything about it?
            You can view it here..
            Thanks again Niki

            1. re: Joyfull

              That seems a little expensive for cooking Joyfull . . . but would probably good to have with it. You're on the right track - just go with something from the same shelf, but cheaper. I just cast around till I find something that works and stick to it. Invino gives good advice. This is pretty much the approach I take.

              1. re: Joyfull

                Actually, if you're looking to make BB with the "real thing," you're looking at the right wine. Maison Louis Jadot is a very well regarded winemaker, and they have a large portfolio, including some very impressive Grand Cru. The wine you are looking at is a "Bourgogne," - which essentially means it is the base level of red wine from the Burgundy region (as opposed to the more expensive "Village" designations, or Premier or Grand Crus).

                This does not mean it's not a good wine -- it should show a lot more refinement than many American Pinots (as well it should fo $26) and will be light years better than Yellowtail Shiraz. If you're OK with spending this much, it's actually a great choice for BB.

                1. re: sbp

                  Nice description, sbp! Yes, there's no question it would be great in "le boeuf" but, as we both point out, kinda pricey for cooking, n'est ce pas? I was thinking Joyfull could buy that one to drink and look on the same shelf (of Burgundies), for something to cook with - b/c you use most, if not all, of the bottle in the stew. I know, I know ... cook w the same wine you're going to drink ... in the perfect world, I guess. Or cook w the Jadot and find a nice Romanee Conti for quaffing . . . lol . . . and invite us!

                  1. re: cinnamon girl

                    I was originally thinking the same thing - $30 is over the top to use for cooking. But, you never know the situation of the OP. Also, it's not as decadent as opening up a Charmes Chambertin! You've got to figure in Burgundy, the Bougogne AC would be their "go to" bottle for cooking.

                    Of course, there are good Bourgogne AC's in the $12-15 range, but they are few and far between and apparently not available in British Columbia.

            2. re: Joyfull

              Joyful, it was quite clear that you were asking for specific wines which were favorites for this dish; if in fact others did have a favorite rather than just a dry red which is frequently listed as a component of this dish. Dry red is a more specific definition of the wine to be used than is Burgundy, as chided by p-jazz, because there are White Burgundy wines. I would use a Pinot Noir from the Williamette Valley or the Russian River appellations where the best US Pinot Noir is produced.

              1. re: Bacchus101

                I'll respectfully submit, though, that most of us know that Burgundy defaults to red....

                Just like there are still reds produced in Champagne, but if you say the word Champagne, you're thinking of a sparkling white (or rosé)

              2. re: Joyfull

                It just occurred to me that perhaps the alcohol had not completely burned off? Not knowing the recipe I can't tell if it's possible that this might have happened but I do know that when I have not been completely diligent about de-alcoholizing the wine from a sauce the result what someone might consider bitter.

              3. re: phillyjazz

                Wow- I don't think Phillyjazz is being in any way patronizing- I have often read cookbooks espouse drinking the wine whose place of origin matches that of the dish- it would seem natural to think that the wine that goes INTO the preparation of a traditional dish had an influence its original development and hence would fare better with them than a wine from a region with a very different climate, for instance. That said, wines have changed so much (all kinds of varietals grown in non-traditional areas and climates), as have our palates, that I think it bears experimenting with new combinatons; doesn't beef with cabernet sound nice? In fct it occurs to me that the cold climate of Burgundy would inspire the drinking of a full-bodied cabernet while the warmer climes of Bordeaux of Rhône might make me want to drink a Volnay with just a hint of chill.
                I do know, however, that I've tried making sangría with wines other than tempranillo and could never quite get the same satisfying results... but it seem to me a shiraz would have been really nice on the BB. Joyful's bitter taste comment makes me think perhaps the wine was corked (if yellowtail comes with cork) or otherwise flawed as the tannins that might be attributed to the bitterness really should have been neutralized by the proteins in the jus.

                1. re: demitasse04

                  I think you'll find that the heavy tannins in a new-world, beefy cab will just become bitter under heat, and a jammy shiraz will just be jammy and syrupy and weird.

              4. I seem to remember that on The French Chef, Julia recommended a California "mountain" wine before french wines were widely found in the US. These are almost always Zinfandel, look for something labeled old vine.

                7 Replies
                1. re: rockfish42

                  Most of today's Zins are big daddies, with lots of ripeness and lots of alcohol. They're not really much like the Zinfandels of yesteryear. Julia would not cook with the bulk of today's Zins.

                  <This is not to say that balanced Zins don't exist, you just have to know what you're looking for. The OP seems to not have much wine knowledge.>

                  1. re: invinotheresverde

                    The French Chef aired '63-'73. My recollection is that the '70's saw huge 15%+ alcohol content in zins (someone please correct me if I'm wrong); I think it was the '80's that saw high-acid, high-tannin wines like the Corison-made Chappellets (Pritchard Hill) and Randy Dunn cabernets (Howell Mountain). I think it was the '90's that brought back the big ripe style of zins; I still recall drinking my first Limerick Lane and St. Francis from that time and what a revelation they were.
                    As for not cooking with today's zins, I find they make a great poaching wine for pears and the sauce made by reducing the poaching liquid is great.

                  2. re: rockfish42

                    And don't forget that when Julia was writing, there were not a lot of varieties of wine available in the US. I don't know about Canada, though. I think we can expect to make some substitutions.

                    1. re: rockfish42

                      I was told by a grape broker in Bakersfield that much, if not most, of the jug wines are made from excess table grapes. Mountain wines from The French Chef are would be stuff like Ridge Monte Bello- not exactly cooking wine. Speaking of "mountain wines", I doubt even 1% of the jug wines labeled as such were actually mountain grown. I'm still in awe of the fact that Alamden hasn't been successfully sued out of using the term "Mountain Burgundy"- not because it isn't mountain grown nor pinot-based but because the Champenois have sued YSL for its perfume Champagne (now called Yvresse) and the Cousteau foundation Clover Stornetta Farms for using "Jacques CloSteau" on a billboard ad.

                      1. re: demitasse04

                        this may be the case for cheap jug wine in the US, but not elsewhere.

                        Inexpensive and cheap are not the same thing.

                        1. re: sunshine842

                          I'm referring strictly to "mountain Burgundy" and the like; Kim Kardashian is no doubt not inexpensive. Cheap? A matter of opinion.

                          1. re: demitasse04

                            most of this thread is a discussion about clarifying the difference between cheap and inexpensive.

                    2. Duck Pond does an excellent Pinot Noir that wood work with this dish.

                      1. I'd point you to another more affordable Oregon pinot if you want to go that route-- can you get O'Reilly? It's about $15 US. Or can you get Erath?

                        I'm sure a small local wine shop could hook you up with inexpensive (French) Burgundy.

                        1. I'd recommend using a french burgundy, to adhere to the origins of the dish (as phillyjazz says, the dish originated in the burgundy region of france). French burgundies tend to be lighter in body and higher in acidity so if you used a very full-bodied fruit forward Australian shiraz it would tend to change the character of the dish. Some new world pinot noirs tend to be more fruit forward than the french versions.

                          I'm not sure about BC but in Alberta you can get relatively inexpensive french wines from the burgundy region, I would recommend those. Given that boeuf bourgignon originated as everyday fare I don't expect it was ever intended to be made with a grand cru.