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Cooking with wine - does it need to be good?

Julia Child is attributed with the line about 'not cooking with wine that you wouldn't drink'. In 2007, the NYT did their own "test kitchen" of cooking with some very cheap, unappetizing sipping wines as well as very expensive bottles and found that both the "gross" wine and the high quality wine both made tasty food.

Personally, I am of the camp of cheap wine for cooking. Opinions of others? Any stories of cooking with cheap, meh wine and not producing good food?

(The NYT article for those interested, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/21/din...)

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  1. You can cook with cheap wine, but it should be drinkable, not something foul. And if you have corked wine, you can in most cases bring it to a boil, and the corked smell (TCA) will dissipate. If it does, fine; if it doesn't, don't cook with it.

    1. Cheap wine != Bad wine, and a bad wine is not just a wine you do not like, but a wine with "technical badness" (corked, cooked, ... )

      Cook with wine you can drink.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Maximilien

        While I agree that there is a false equivalence between cheap wine and bad wine - the NYT article played with making risotto with a Barolo and with Two Buck Chuck (and a third in between wine) and put them up to a blind taste test. The Two Buck Chuck risotto was agreed to be best.

        So while yes "bad wine" is largely talking about corked, over headed, etc - the article did talk about cooking with wines that were not great sipping wines.

        1. re: Maximilien

          I am in the cook with the wine you can drink camp. I started keeping a decent dry vermouth on hand for recipes that call for white wine. I didn't read the article but the concept makes sense to me, I cannot believe that a $50 bottle produces a better dish than a $10 (or less) bottle.

        2. Agree with the below. I'm not going to cook with a $50.00 bottle of wine, but I don't use highly-salted "cooking wine" either. I have no problem using a 3 dollar red to deglaze, etc. Would I serve it to guests? Prob not, but for deglazing, rock on.

          1. The usual advice is to use something you would be happy to drink.

            I cook with wine (and eat the food) but no longer drink alcohol. Therefore, I cook with what is in the house - and rely on the assumption that my partner drinks something she'd be happy for me to cook with.

            1. A wine cost in consideration of cooking is one thing, but I'm in the camp that you should LIKE the taste of the wine if you're going to cook with it. Same with liquors.

              I'd use a quality balsamic vinegar over a tasteless wine even.