I’ve been reading all sorts of recipes. They all say “red wine”, usually with comments like “don’t skimp on quality or quantity”, but they don’t give any indication of what red wine.
I’m clearly not going to stick a bottle of burgundy in the pot (the “lowest” level I have in is already village level anyway! First world problem), but what should I use? What would you use? With all those beefy/bacony flavours, I tend to assume it’d need to be something quite robust, but also it’s as dish originally made with burgundy.
I could always just use my freeze bag of dregs, which is probably somewhere in the region of a bottles worth at the moment.
I use a Bojo-villages. Near enough to Brugundy, but no need to waste a good bottle. I guess a non-Burgundy French PN could work too (from the Loire, say?).
More generally, I just don’t buy the need to use an expensive wine - red or white - for cooking. I always have a sneaky feeling it’s a sentiment people with more money than sense express, or that it’s something of a meme which no one really practices in real life.
I personally don’t think it makes much difference, so I would generally use something simple and fruity and cheap. Or something I’m not particularly looking forward to drinking. The dregs bag sounds reasonable. I would avoid anything with very strong distinctive flavours, e.g. oxidative/sherry flavours.
A few years ago I made a beef Bourguignon and bought a Lidl pinot noir for about £3 to put in it. I had a taste of the wine as I was putting it in, and was pretty sure that I’d ruined the whole meal because it was undrinkable. The food was absolutely fine though, and by the time it had finished cooking, whatever I didn’t like about the wine had been obliterated (and I suspect the same would be true if it has been a nice wine).
Personally, I’m not much of a believer in using ‘quality’ wine for cooking, especially if it’s a robust meat dish that’s going to be cooked for a while. I just don’t believe any of the complexity that better wines delivers survives this process. I’m sure others will disagree though!
While I wouldn’t use anything really bad, I try to keep the odd bottle or half of basic red in for stews etc. In this case I’d probably go for something robust, but relatively gentle - basic French merlot or something like that.
Given one would often be adding onions / garlic / bacon etc to a stew / braised-dish / casserole etc, it would seem bonkers to be using anything beyond a basic tasty wine for such things IMO.
The only time I’d personally use any semi-decent wine is a splash to add to delicate fish like lemon sole etc [whatever I might be drinking with it, unless it’s some special treat wine]. Though we’re talking different quantities with that kind of cooking, I appreciate!
Tamlyn Currin did a really good article on cooking with wine a few months ago on the Jancis Robinson pages. She did a systematic cook up and tasting with various wine styles to try and bring some science to the process.
Her findings: fruity wines with high acid worked best; dry wines faded away; avoid wines with heavy tannins; expensive wines added nothing.
And one last interesting finding: madeira works with everything. (And you don’t need to finish it as the rest can go back in the fridge.)
I know I don’t need to, this doesn’t usually stop me. I did a similar experiment with mulled wine a few years ago and came to the same conclusion. I should just listen to myself. Dregs bag it is! (If not, I have some Pinot Noir 'Pure Vallée' Vin de France, Famille Bougrier 2021 that will almost certainly do the trick nicely.
Our cooking wine is a Corbieres from TWS, Domaine de Trillol 2016. It was on offer a while ago at 6.95 and we bought a fair amount as it’s good to 2023. It’s really good, and rarely does the whole bottle end up in the pot!