Why use cheap wine in cooking?

We have a lively conversation the other day at The Stone Grill. It was about people who buy cheap wine to use in cooking. Some thought it was perfectly okay while some of us didn’t.

The conversation was interesting enough to warrant a blog post, so here we are. We’re sure this won’t be the end of such conversations while we prepare for reopening!

The case for using cheap wine in cooking

The main cases for using cheap wine in cooking is cost, waste and taste.

Cost – As the wine isn’t being enjoyed in the same way a glass of wine would be, why spend a lot on it? Many of the unique characteristics of a good bottle of wine will be lost when used in cooking so you may as well save your money.

Waste – This is more about attitude towards cost and taste but is still a viable reason. Why spend good money on good wine if you don’t get the full experience? Spending money on wine is about that satisfaction when the taste hits your palate. Not something you get with cooked wine.

Taste – Similar to the above. Why spend money on good wine when many if the key flavour notes will be lost within the dish. The richer the dish, the more the wine taste is lost.

The case for using good wine in cooking

The case for using good wine in cooking is also about taste but also about quality.

Taste – Pair the right wine with the right dish and you can still taste the flavour within it. You won’t get the full wine experience of course but why would you ruin a great dish with a cheap wine?

Quality – Would you go to the butcher and ask for the cheapest sirloin steak they have because you’re only cooking with it? Would you go to the greengrocer and ask for the cheapest potatoes they stock because they are only being used for cooking? We didn’t think so. So why do the same for wine?

Cooking juice – Buying a good wine to use in cooking means you can drink the rest and enjoy it. Some people called this ‘cooking juice’, juice in a glass that helps you with the cooking. Whatever you call it, you will enjoy having a cheeky glass of something good quality much more than you would drinking something cheap!

Using wine in cooking

Most recipes will suggest a wine to use as an ingredient. We recommend sticking to the suggested variety, at least at first. The flavour profile will often fit the other ingredients and the dish as a whole.

Once you get to know your wines and have tasted the dish a couple of times, you can experiment with different types of wine. There are no rules in cooking and experimentation is part of the process.

The one thing we would say is take as much pride in your wine as you would in your other ingredients. After all, that’s what wine is in cooking, another ingredient!

Where do you stand on using wine in cooking? Go cheap or good? Tell us your thoughts below!

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