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Cook with the Good Stuff?

In my opinion, the quality of a wine that you cook with can make a difference to the taste of food. Quite simply, wine is an ingredient and can add aroma and flavor to dishes.

Wine can play an important role in marinades, sauces, stocks, and even desserts. In some dishes it is a key ingredient. What would Chef Ramsay say if you forgot the wine in a coq au vin? So it is logical that if wine is a key ingredient in a dish then it can affect the flavor.

Although the perception of “quality” in a wine can differ widely amongst consumers, my advice is that you should be able to drink your cooking wine. If a wine tastes unpleasant then it will not lose that flavor in the kitchen.

That said, don’t go overboard and use a very expensive wine when cooking. The delicate and complex bouquet of a very fine wine will not add all of its subtle nuances after being subjected to high heat. Save the 1961 Latour for yourself…

The style of a wine is also important. Many chefs avoid using a wine that is very sweet or highly acidic in reductions because heat can emphasize these characteristics. Sauces that are over-reduced can be too acidic and have a caramelized taste.

In terms of reducing wastage of a wine you buy just for cooking, you could always pour the remnants into an empty ½ bottle. If it is filled to the brim and sealed tight then it should stay fresh for longer. But I prefer the idea of throwing a bit of the good stuff into a dish when cooking at home. It’s more fun!