Last thread on wines suitable for cooking was 4 years ago, so lets do it again. What works well from the wine society for cooking purposes, white for cream sauces and red for say boeuf bourguignon?
A timely question, as the shorter days prompt thoughts of slow cooked things. I made a venison dish over the weekend and remembered the joy of putting half a bottle into the dish, having a glass while cooking and then the last (big) glass with the meal.
For a beef or venison stew, I like a red wine with simple, punchy flavours. Often I’ll turn to something from Southern France, eg Languedoc. A red wine with a bit of anise among the flavours is particularly good as that seems to wake up the dish.
I’m aiming to drink through some of Katie Jones’ wines this year, to catch them before they fade, and used a bottle of her Hairy Grenache red for the venison thing. It worked well.
Is a great wine for big stews. This, diced venison, bacon, bay leaves, a cinnamon stick, a few cloves, a star anise, onions, garlic and some tomato puree. Four hours. Done.
Boeuf Bourguignon if I’m not also using the above greek red, I’ll probably use a bottle of Beaujolais (the tesco one for a fiver is pretty good). Whites for sauces usually only need a splash so it’ll either be whatever’s open or a splash of Vermouth if nothing is.
Further confirmation that you are clearly a man who knows how to cook.
Thank you, given that it’s a stew that screams Northern Italian Red, I thought you might approve! I’m now wondering what it’s like doing exactly that but with pig (or better still boar!) cheeks.
Haha! As you were typing this, there I was doing a post on a Northern Italian red on another thread.
I spotted. I’ll be jealous here too!
Hmmmmmm! A few bemused/angry TWS buyers I should think!
I just buy the JS House range for cooking
That’s my Saturday night cooking sorted, thank you! I might be tempted to get a cote rotie out for it though.
Thank you for all your comments so far. I will try the greek wine, cheers strawpig. The difficulty I find is that the cheap wines tend to be bland and not so good for cooking. Key words - easy drinking, quaffable, every day drinking, smooth etc. Young wines that won’t offend. This does not work in sauces.
Perhaps I should read the reviews and pick up the “this wine is rough, went into the cookpot” comments!
Yes. Do that!
I think a lot depends on the nature of the dish, what you want the wine to contribute and how many other flavours you’ve got going on. For a meaty stew, I would say what matters most is fruit (to give a bit of sweetness) and body. Cheap and cheerful can be ok, especially if the wine’s on the bigger side.
A risotto needs more thought and careful matching of the flavours (although I agree with @strawpig that vermouth is often a good option).
There are certain dishes that call for a certain wine. Coq au riesling for example, or Poulet au vin jaune, though I would be sorely tempted to experiment with some fino sherry and neutral white wine for the latter, given the price. I’ve a feeling that if you want to be authentic, Boeuf bourguignon probably calls for a bigger, mature Cote d’Or red such as a Corton. Good luck with that!
But back when I was a student and really just getting into better sorts of non-rotgut wines, I discovered an ancient dusty old wine merchant in one of the few bits of Coventry that hadn’t been bombed in WW2. They had on their list an EB mature Chambertin at a reasonable price, which presumably had never been adjusted for inflation. Last bottle! So I bought it. Given the price and the somewhat free-and-easy labelling of those EB days, I wasn’t expecting much, but thought it might be fun to make a Coq au “Chambertin” the proper way at least.
There was some wine left over to accompany the food. By gosh it was good. It dawned on us that maybe the bottle contained what it said. The food was equally sensational.
And that’s really the end of my anecdote, save to point out that just using any old plonk may not be the right way to go for some dishes. Oxidised whites can be used in suitable dishes (and are by well-known chefs so don’t throw them away). I suspect any dish that expects you to make wine a major part of the sauce, rather than just a splash to deglaze, will probably benefit from a better wine. Fruity wines will be fairly risk free, but some dishes may actually benefit from a more mature, aromatic sort of wine.
Can you remember how much? Go on, make us weep!
I’ve done chicken in half and half fino and airen. I first did it as a spanish dish with almonds, which worked very well, so I then used the same mix for a Poulet au Vin Jaune analogue. Clearly didn’t have the complexity, but was very good. Don’t forget to add the extra splash of fino on serving (as with vin jaune), which really does lift it.
I wish I could remember it, @Herbster. But it wouldn’t have been more than £2, though that was back in around 1969.
Good story, I have some more research to do on the cooking wines then. I asked my wife about what is best. She says there are two types of wine - red and white. She goes down into the cellar and picks up anything old and dusty - because clearly no one is drinking it!
I remember Floyd on France decades ago and he said only cook with wine you’re prepared to drink!
I think Keith Floyd was prepared to drink most things!