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Sep 29, 2011 10:26 AM

What red wine to cook with - I don't drink wine

I don't care for wine, never have, I've tried all sorts..cheap stuff, good stuff....just don't like it. However I do believe it is a valuable ingredient in cooking. In the past, if I was making something that called for red wine, I'd add whatever I had in the cupboard (usually an old gift from someone that didn't know me well) and if I didn't have any, I'd substitute some other liquid, often chicken broth. Generally, that works well. IBut I want to make my favorite pasta sauce (arrabiata) and it does call for red wine. And I have none. I don't want to go out and buy something that I know nothing about...and I don't want to spend much money either. Any suggestions? Also, since I'll only be using a cup or so, the leftover will simply sit in the fridge for a while. How long is okay? I mean, I'm only cooking with it, not drinking it. I think I've left a bottle in the fridge for a couple of months, and used it in cooking, and it was fine. Just wondering what the concensus was, from those that are much more knowledgeable than I!

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  1. Although I would say you could leave it out of your sauce, if you're going to buy wine definitely go for something under $10, probably a California Cabernet would be easiest to find. As to leftover, red wine freezes well so you could make it into "ice" cubes and keep them in the freezer for next time you need some for cooking.

    2 Replies
    1. re: escondido123

      I agree that nothing over $10 is called for. in fact, I have read comparative taste tests that conclude that in sauces, better results are achieved with cheaper wines than better ones. I too keep the bottle in the fridge, for many months sometimes. Another way to go is to buy wine in the 12-oz bottle (ir is it less than 12?) four and six-packs. Using wine in the arrabiata is the same concept as vodka sauce. There are compounds in tomatoes that only develop flavor in the presence of alcohol.

      1. re: escondido123

        Shoot, I never thought about freezing in ice trays...that's a great idea.

      2. For the sauce, buy some cheap Italian wine, preferably a Chianti but any red Italian will do. Banfi makes some fairly cheap stuff. Since you won't be drinking it, no need to buy anything better. If you are going to cook with it, you can keep it in the refrigerator for quite a while

        1 Reply
        1. re: dinwiddie

          Cool. I'll be checking in the store this weekend. Thanks.

        2. For me a decent jug wine is OK to use for cooking. I'm talking about something like Carlo Rossi burgundy. I make an Arrabbiata sauce regularly and use either the Rossi or a decent Chianti. There's no need to pay top dollar for a wine you're going to cook with, although it's best to use a wine that's pleasing to the taste as well. But, that won't work for you since you don't like wine to begin with.. Sometimes you'll find a recipe, however, that actually specifies a particular wine to use... then you're safe. Other than that here's a link to some pretty good information and a wine chart so you can see which wine to use for what kind of food.


          1. You could pretty much use it for a year or so if you keep it in the fridge. Honestly, some Charles Shaw or whatever under $5 is called for here. Carlo Rossi is pretty credited except you prob don't want a huge jug around.

            1. I disagree with the "keep it in the refrigerator for months" philosophy. You can try saving by freezing in ice cube trays. As for the wine, I'd ask the wine guy at the store for his recommendation. Tell him you don't want to spend more than $10 You can probably get a decent Australian Shiraz for that price. Try Yellow Tail or similar.

              5 Replies
              1. re: gourmanda

                Actually, a Shiraz would probably be too sweet for making arrabiata sauce, which is why I'd pick a Sangiovese. It isn't hard to get an inexpensive one and I always find it works best for Italian foods.

                1. re: dinwiddie

                  I'm smiling at the "too sweet" comment. I've never ever tasted a wine that I would call sweet. I guess that is why I don't care for it! :-) Only kind I have ever been able to even tolerate, was a locally made desert wine...and even then, I was only drinking it to please a boyfriend that desperately wanted me to expand my palate to include wine (which he loved). Of course, I eventually figured out he had a drinking problem, so that was that!!

                2. re: gourmanda

                  A good quality box wine (yes, a few exist) might work for these purposes - it will keep for about 6 weeks or more in the fridge, even for drinking. However, going through 3 liters of wine might be hard to pull off for a non wine-drinker unless you're doing a lot of cooking.

                  1. re: will47

                    I haven't ever found a boxed red wine that we like. White, yes but not red. What brand(s) of red box wine do you like (for drinking)?

                    1. re: gourmanda

                      I'll agree that the whites available seem to be better. The only red in a box I've tried is "From the Tank" from Jenny and François (a Côtes du Rhône). I think the white is nicer, but the red is not bad -- maybe a little too "grapey". I have seen some others that are supposed to be Ok (certainly good enough for cooking), but haven't explored them myself. As far as box wines for drinking, maybe bumping this thread would be a better place to look:

                      Of course one other thing with a red in the box is that it may take a bit longer to come to serving temperature than a white.