Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
May 5, 2013 07:45 AM

"Sauterne" for mushroom sauce

I don't know how to link threads, but there's an earlier one on sauterne for fondue and what should be used instead. I kinda think I've got a similar situation here: want to make a mushroom sauce from a cookbook from the 70s and it calls for sauterne. I'm pretty sure they mean a cooking wine--but what would you use?

The application: I kind of hate to tell you, but I tried something I would normally never try at a local restaurant: chopped steak. The waitress said it was her absolute favorite. It was a chewy hamburger-type substance with a slice of swiss cheese and a rather tasty mushroom sauce on it. As my jaws got a real workout, I told my husband, "This would be 100 times with a good quality hamburger under it." So I thought I'd give it a try--but had no idea how to come up with the mushroom sauce.

Considering the quality of the food at this restaurant, I figured my 1970s cookbook would be the place to look and I was right--but I'm not opposed to making it better if you've got suggestions.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. most simply explained, sauternes is a sweetish french dessert wine. it has zero in common with cooking wine. never ever use anything labelled "cooking wine". dreadful stuff, often full of additives.

    personally, i'd prefer sherry in a mushroom sauce.

    4 Replies
    1. re: hotoynoodle

      Sauterne is the US name for a generic white or pink wine. Not the same, at all, as sauternes.

      I think, given the vintage (pun intended) of the recipe, the OP wants a somewhat sweet wine, maybe along the lines of cooking sherry.

      1. re: hotoynoodle

        Well, yes, that's what the discussion was about in the thread I referred to: in the 50's-70's, when they said "sauterne" they didn't mean the sweet dessert wine but apparently meant cooking wine. So I was looking for suggestions of what to use instead.

        My husband likes sherry, so maybe I'll give that a shot. Thanks.

        1. re: Thanks4Food

          No Sherry?...I prefer Marsala wine to Sherry for my Sauces. It is typically a bit sweeter than most sherries, but the flavor seems better to me

          1. re: Thanks4Food

            California Sauternes - which AFAIK no longer exists - was a dryish white wine, not a cooking wine per se but often called for in cookbooks prior to 1980. It bore no resemblance to French Sauterne, either in taste or price. Sherry has too much sweetness - I'd go with a cheap chablis or a generic white blend.

        2. Madeira is wonderful. I would not use sweet wine at all, but have not tried. If you buy a fortified wine like DRY: madeira, sherry, marsala, or vermouth, it keeps longer than wine after it is opened.

          You can also use a dry red wine, dry white wine. I have used all for steak and would use the same for a fancy hamburger. I usually add a little stock sometimes (chicken or beef) too and it boil down a little after I boil the wine, I think a dry red would be best with cheese (but I haven't done it with cheese).

          Try this as a better guide
          http://www.peaceandloveinthekitchen.c... I never used the bacon or cornstarch.

          Also, I know you didn't ask but I am on a roll, add a bit of heavy cream at the end and reduce to thicken a little especially since I don't add cornstarch and usually not even tomato paste. Ending butter is also nice (don't boil) instead of cream.

          1. Try marsala.

            You can use any dry white wine for fondue, so that would work for your mushroom sauce, too... Dry vermouth goes off pretty quickly, so if you don't drink vermouth regularly, I wouldn't buy a bottle.

            1. I just made the sauce with cooking sherry and while it's okay, it's not all that great. Needs some oomph.

              My husband and I were at the grocery store this afternoon looking at sherry, madeira, marsala, and red wines wondering which to try. I'll definitely try something red next time.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Thanks4Food

                please don't waste money on "cooking wines." blech.

                you can buy decent actual sherry, from spain, for not much money. while the flavor eventually will fade, it won't go "off" like regular wine, so can be kept for months.

                i don't know what kind of plonk was 1960s california "sauternes", but no need to chase down krap when you can easily make a lovely sauce with most of the suggestions given here.

                1. re: Thanks4Food

                  As mentioned above,Sauternes were very simple whites from CA, not sweet or even off dry. The modern sub would be a modest domestic white wine with no Oak.
                  Also as stated already DO NOT USE COOKING WINES!!! they taste like s**** and after you reduce them they taste like SUPER S***

                  1. re: Thanks4Food

                    If you have leftover sauce, try a teeny splash of balsamic vinegar to perk it up. My previous mention of cooking sherry was not to endorse that ingredient for general use, but because it was common in the era that produced that recipe
                    and might fit the rest of the ingredients. Obviously, adding balsamic vinegar derails any attempt at authenticity, but taste is more important than vintage ambience.

                  2. Sweet vermouth might make the basis for a good mushroom sauce, or a port, of course.