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Cooking wine! Hooh! Good God, y'all. What is it GOOD for?

I've never heard a kind word for this stuff. Jeff Smith railed against cooking wine on seemingly every episode of his show. Yet cooking wine remains a popular product. And my mom, a rather frugal gourmet herself, used inexpensive cooking wine in some of her dishes and they were wonderful.

So is there anybody here who will stand and belt out a huzzah on behalf of this maligned cooking product?

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  1. "Cooking wine! Hooh! Good God ya'all. What is it GOOD for?"

    Absolutely NOTHING! (Say it AGAIN)

    1 Reply
    1. re: PotatoHouse

      Absolutely Nothing. (er, um...) :D

      If you wouldn't drink it, don't cook with it. (and even that's a little loose -- I've cooked with wine that's been open a couple of days -- it's fine to cook with for a short time after it's a little too oxidized to drink)

    2. It's not even an effective rust remover!

      I'm firmly in the "Can't drink it, then don't eat it" camp. It exists only to part fools from their money, loath though I am to say anything disparaging about anyone's mom.

      1. The problems with cooking wines are:
        1. NOBODY in their right mind pollutes good wine by adding salt, so there's a fat chance you wouldn't be caught dead drinking the wine they pollute with salt for cooking. I have NEVER seen a bottle of cooking wine with the vintage and vinyard printed on the label! You get what you pay for.
        2. You cannot have a little taste of cooking wine while you're cooking, unless you have a bizarre craving for, "Yuck!"
        3. My cardinal rule for most wines is to cook with the same wine we'll be drinking.... I don't think so! Oh.. I should quickly add that this rule is not totally inflexible. The part about cooking with what you drink: who would do that with a great claret or grand cru burgundy? But it would be insanity to cook with cooking wine and drink one of those with the meal!

        As far as your mom's cooking goes, PK, I suspect she compensated (by plan or by instinct) by using less salt when she used cooking wine. She sounds like a great cook. But I also suspect her "wonderful" dishes would have been "drop dead fabulous" with really good wine! '-)

        1. If it has enough salt in it, it might kill weeds.

          1. Personally, I think cooking wine was put on the shelf as a convenience product, so the consumer didn't have to go to the liquor store to try to decide which wine to use in what kind of dish, and as an adulterated alcohol-based product, not subject to the same laws and regulations as wine. Sadly/gladly I feel it has outlived its usefulness. Our society's culinary knowledge and discerning palates have grown and matured to the point where this product is no longer wanted nor needed.

            5 Replies
            1. re: njmarshall55

              Doubtless there's some truth in this. Until a couple of years ago, the city in which I grew up--and my mom cooked--was dry. Buying a bottle of wine meant driving outside the city limits and back as opposed to going a few blocks to a grocery store.

              Having said this, cooking wine is still available at every grocery store I see.

              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                Where I live you can't buy a bottle of drinking wine on Sunday which used to be a PITA until I retired because Sunday was usually our shopping day.

                In the book "Restaurant Man", Joe Bastianich talks about salting the cooking wine in the family restaurant to keep the staff from drinking it.

                All that said I've never bought cooking wine. Is it with the soy sauce and similar at the grocery? I will look for some next time I go.

                1. re: Perilagu Khan

                  A hold over from prohibition,then the ABC laws and who has a license to sell beer and wine.In dry locations and on or off premises regulations really varied around the US.
                  The thought was if it was nasty enough in the drink sense it could be on the shelf,exempt from the DLC and ABC regulations.

                2. re: njmarshall55

                  "Our society's culinary knowledge and discerning palates have grown and matured to the point where this product is no longer wanted nor needed."

                  Do you live in the society that celebrates the annual appearance of the McRib sandwich? Or somewheres else?