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Wine for cooking


I’d be interested in hearing about how you choose what wine you cook with / add to food. I’m unsure how to select… Grape variety, strength, price even? Thoughts welcome!



I only cook with wine that I’d be prepared to drink. :see_no_evil:

For reds I avoid anything too light bodied, and can’t bring myself to use anything I’d really enjoy drinking. The Victory Hotel Shiraz-Cab fits the bill. Plenty of body, cheap and it’s not a struggle to have a glass or two if the recipe doesn’t call for a whole bottle.

The Victory Hotel Chardonnay-Semillon wouldn’t be a bad place to start for a “white cooker”.

If you’re left with half a bottle that isn’t going to be drunk then you can reduce the alcohol content by warming it in a pan for a few minutes and then pour into an ice cube tray and freeze. Put the cubes in a freezer bag for use in future dishes.


Interesting question. I’ve often wondered, too.

On the one hand, I have cookbooks - like the Italian cookbook by Marcella Hazan - that suggest using particular, often rather good / pricey wines from a particular region of Italy for a dish

On the other hand, I’ve heard a few people, most notably Raymond Blanc, say that cheap plonk is all you need for most dishes.

I tend to go with the latter view. So when I buy a wine I don’t like (had one from Aldi recently), I just keep it on one side for cooking. I often put some of it in plastic bottle in a freezer till I need it. This always seem to work perfectly well in my experience.

I’d be interested in others experience.


There are two things that generally shape what wine I cook with. Firstly, what wine would I pair with the food? So if I’m cooking lamb I’d be thinking Rioja, maybe Bordeaux - chances are if the wine will drink well with your meal then it’ll work for cooking with. Secondly I try to match the origin of the food with the wine. If I’m cooking a risotto I’ll generally pick a dry Italian white - if I’m making a ragu I’ll go for an Italian red like a Montepulciano. It’s a ‘what grows together, goes together’ sort of thing.

I definitely agree with @Rowley_Birkin_II that I won’t cook with something that I wouldn’t drink. And I agree with both him and @Asmith that I wouldn’t cook with something too pricey - would you really notice the difference if you put a drop of a modest Langhe Nebbiolo instead of a £35 Barolo in your sauce? Probably not!


Whenever I have some unfinished wine I top up a bottle I keep in the freezer.

Day before I need to cook with wine I remove a bottle from the freeaer to defrost and use that. So its a blend of all the reds I’ve been drinking over the previous months.

Works fine for me, and costs nothing

This week I am cooking Jamie Olivers ‘Jool’s favourite’ beef stew. whicj calls for a bottle of red wine


Great idea! I must try this.


Exactly - I just pour the end of the bottle into a good quality small food bag (or bags) with a closure like a ziploc and throw in the freezer draw. I’ve also done this with wine I didn’t much care for, but was technically sound. When you’re cooking a bolognaise for 5 hours it seems to matter less that a wine was slightly too tannic!



I remember watching with a mixture of awe and horror while famous TV chef of yore, Keith Floyd, made beouf Bourguinon and used a bottle of Gevrey Chambertin in his recipe. I couldn’t afford to buy it to drink let alone waste it on a beef stew! My policy since then has been to buy cheap for the pot or indeed put aside perfectly good wine that is not to my taste.


I make Beef Bourguignon quite a bit and never ever have I poured a decent bottle of Burundy into it…!! Surely that’s sacrilege and would constitute burning at the stake.:scream:


I very much subscribe to the thought that the elements which separate great wine from the terrible are those volatile compounds which are lost when cooked anyway, so don’t waste the good stuff.

I’ve made boeuf bourguignon (and coq au vin) with Burgundy, but never with so much as a village wine and certainly not a 1er cru.

But those types of dishes are easy, because I use a whole bottle which can be bought specifically for the meal. I find it much trickier with a recipe which calls for 120ml of white wine, say - we tend to have pretty much stuck to Chablis over the last few years (changing now) and the choice was always between "wasting"a glass of a decent bottle in the food or buying something “inferior” to cook with which then inevitably gets thrown away.

I hadn’t thought of just freezing the cooking wine and using it when required, what a great idea! Thanks!


Freezing in ice cube trays then dumping into ziplocks works here too :+1:


and if you put sticks in them you have great ice lollies


I’m an ice cube man - freeze all leftover wine esp decent plonk (£6-8 price rang-ish) for cooking. I would add that you’d rarely find chefs using anything other than basic cooking wine in professional kitchens.


I would definitely steer towards the cheap end - Wine is often added earlier in a dish for reducing, marinating or stewing so pretty much any delicacy is lost. I agree with the general body/acidity comments in that adding a gamay or pinot won’t have the same effect as a blockbuster chilean cabernet.

If you’re ever going to worry about adding booze to a dish then it’s beer you need to worry about! There is a fine line between hoppy tang and hobgoblin soup.


The cheapest wine I would palate - rather than choose to drink. Usually there is some left and it is easier to quaff then freeze for subsequent sauces. I usually use a Chilean cab sauv from Lidl. Chilean reds seem to drink well even when young and this is reflected in the price. Aldi also have a very rich red which is labelled a french pinot noir, it’s £4.49 so I can’t see it really being pinot with the lower juice yields compared to other reds. TWS don’t seem to have anything at quite those prices.