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Just how important is the quality of wine when a recipe calls for wine?

I have several packages of beef short ribs in the freezer that I need to cook and the recipe calls for a bottle of dry red wine "the best you can afford because you will taste the difference"

This got me thinking, just how important is the quality of the wine when it comes to cooking?

I have heard variations of "don't cook with anything you would not drink" but this goes above/beyond that rule of thumb.

Granted, higher price doesn't guaranty a better quality of wine but does a $40-50 bottle produce a better dish than a $15-20 bottle?

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  1. Not in my experience. I have a recipe for beef in Barolo, and I've made it both with Barolo and generic Trader Joe's nebbiolo, and it was just as good with the less expensive wine. Really, after the wine is flavored with the meat and seasonings, I think the nuances that distinguish a wonderful wine from a good one are lost.

    1. The 'nuances' of wine which along with demand causes any wine to be priced higher. Will it make your dish better ?, not in my experience. Ernest and Julio Gallo Hearty Burgundy flavored one hell of a lot of dishes in my day. Now if l like to drink it, l like to ccok with it.Only exception is fondue. l cook with chasselas from alsace and drink the same. It is traditional, does it make a difference, l think so but would not bet the 401K on it.

      1. Here's a recent thread that addresses this --- and other things.

        2 Replies
        1. Generally speaking, no. Personally I would never use anything that cost more than 10 bucks a bottle to cook with.

          1. I suspected as much.....I will pick up a $12 or so bottle for my first ever short rib cooking event and not worry.

            3 Replies
            1. re: cleobeach

              I always like to keep a half decent box of wine at home for this reason - wine's always ready whether I want to cook or drink.

              Also, even if a bottle's been sitting out a little too long and isn't drinkable any more, it generally tastes fine in a braise/stew.

              1. re: joonjoon

                Or, if it was purchased or gifted as a drinkable bottle, but we just didn't like it, into the stewpot it goes!

              2. re: cleobeach

                You can spend half that and get a bottle suitable for cooking. I've used Pepperwood, Goats do Roam... as long as it's not supermarket "cooking wine" or horrid wine.