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A recent NY Times article discusses cooking with wines that you wouldn't ordinarily drink. Their conclusion is that you CAN cook with the cheap stuff. Any comments from the more refined tastebuds in the crowd?

Personally, I'm not that sure my palate is cosmopolitan enough to discern a difference. Recently I made a beef ragu with a bottle of opened wine that had been sitting on the counter (corked, mind you) for a couple of weeks. It didn't taste so hot but I tossed it in the ragu and I thought the finished product was really good. So I'm inclined to agree with the article and not feel utter shame for stocking my pantry with the individual screw topped bottles of Glen Ellen.

I'm open to any and all ridicule :o

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I'm open to any and all ridicule :P
No ridicule from this corner. :o It pains me to cook with an expensive wine; however, in some instances it does make a difference such as in a lightly-cooked sauce where the wine is the highlight. I don't think it makes a whole lot of difference in something long-cooking such as a stew or ragu. It's the nasty "Cooking Wine" sold in grocery stores which oughta be banned. :lol:
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Personally, I'm not that sure my palate is cosmopolitan enough to discern a difference. Recently I made a beef ragu with a bottle of opened wine that had been sitting on the counter (corked, mind you) for a couple of weeks. It didn't taste so hot but I tossed it in the ragu and I thought the finished product was really good. So I'm inclined to agree with the article and not feel utter shame for stocking my pantry with the individual screw topped bottles of Glen Ellen.

I'm open to any and all ridicule :o

I agree: I'm not sure I could tell a difference, either. For what its worth, I've heard Alton Brown say that it is OK to cook with a wine you wouldn't normally drink.

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A recent NY Times article discusses cooking with wines that you wouldn't ordinarily drink. Their conclusion is that you CAN cook with the cheap stuff. Any comments from the more refined tastebuds in the crowd?

Personally, I'm not that sure my palate is cosmopolitan enough to discern a difference. Recently I made a beef ragu with a bottle of opened wine that had been sitting on the counter (corked, mind you) for a couple of weeks. It didn't taste so hot but I tossed it in the ragu and I thought the finished product was really good. So I'm inclined to agree with the article and not feel utter shame for stocking my pantry with the individual screw topped bottles of Glen Ellen.

I'm open to any and all ridicule :o

Cooking with an opened wine is not a big deal. It oxidizes on the tabletop, which is one of the reactions that occurs when you heat it up. So keep those leftover portions of wine for cooking.

While Glen Ellen may be stretching it a bit, inexpensive wines work well for most dishes. One of the key factors is how much wine is going into the dish. A splash, cup, or a bottle? When braising something where the vast majority of the liquid is wine using a decent wine will certainly help. Basically it is like using homemade chicken stock versus broth in a box from the store. They both have their roles. The main thing is to get a wine with enough body and depth (regardless of cost) to provide the dish with what it needs.

When wine is used in small amounts it is usually for the acidity and not specific flavor. In those cases why not use some wine vinegar, just keep in mind to use less.

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Interesting article. Thanks. I agree with the author of the article when she says: "For one thing, short of a wine that is spoiled by age, heat or a compromised cork, there are few that I categorically would not drink." That changes the circumstances of the proposition (i.e., don't cook with what you wouldn't drink), I think, even though she discovered wines in her experiment that she didn't care for that worked fine for cooking. I tend to use the same cheap white table wines I drink when I need a dry white for cooking (I don't like sweeter wines, though I will drink riesling and use that if I need something a little sweeter.) The two whites I generally have on hand and use most often in cooking are Domaine Du Pouy and the ubiquitous Cavit Pinot Grigio.

The other bottle I always keep on hand as an emergency substitute for wine (works for red or white) is a trusty bottle of Martini & Rossi Dry Vermouth.

I tend not to like red wines as much so usually have somewhat more expensive reds on hand than whites. When I have cheaper reds that I don't care to drink (or drink some of and don't like but don't want to pour out), I find that they work fine in cooking.

When I was making recipes from Babbo recently, I was tempted to go back to Heat to check for the differences between the way things were done in the restaurant and how they appear in the cookbook. Then I decided I'd basically have to reread the book to do it, and take notes. That's a nice project for sometime in the future.

I found it amusing that one of those differences is California merlot for Beef with Barolo. I wasn't going to shell out the full price for a bottle of Barolo to make the short rib recipe from the cookbook but wasn't sure what to get. The wine clerk said to get Nebbiolo instead, the grape for Barolo but not as mature wine. It was less than half the price for the Barolos. It worked very well in the recipe, and we drank the remainder of the bottle with the meal, along with a Barbaresco.

I certainly wouldn't seek out the cheapest wine imaginable for cooking but don't see the inexpensive cost of a wine as a dealbreaker either.

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I use dry vermouth for most situations calling for white wine, unless it is a huge pot of chicken stock calling for a full bottle, in which case I'll find a bottle of white wine at the back of the cupboard that may have been hanging around for a long time, as long as it isn't a super-oaky chardonnay or something with lots of residual sugar, which I don't have much of anyway. Usually, it's something a guest has brought as a hostess gift and I don't care to drink, like cheap pinot grigio. Otherwise, I'll use an inexpensive torrontes.

For reds, I usually make it a habit of having a couple of very inexpensive but decent bottles around for cooking. I get them at Rodman's or Trader Joe's and don't spend more than $6 or $7 dollars, sometimes less. I usually make cooked wine marinade, which later goes in the cooking pot, so the wine gets boiled with aromatic veg right from the get-go. Of course, if I have the butt of a good bottle that's been hanging around for a few days, I add that, too.

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Generally, I use a bottle of super market merlot in my thick tomato meat sauce, but ever since I bought some of the Boxer, I have been using that. All of the attributes of this wine that I hated make for a really good sauce. The overly rich and alcoholic wine really makes the sauce lively. Also, I bought the Violinist (Mollydookers white) and found that drinking it was like taking shots of vodka, so now it has become my cooking white of choice. The high alcohol content and rich flavors really do a nice job in sauces and as an addition to a braising liquid.

By the way, I don't understand why using "a wine that is spoiled by ... heat" would be something you do not want to cook with. When a wine becomes cooked in the bottle it generally tastes like how it will taste when it is cooked in a pot, I doubt that it would degrade any further.

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Two things about that NY Times article intrigued me. First, we rarely drink wine, rarely cook with wine, so the thought of being able to buy cheap red wine for beef braises really appeals to me, and second, when she said cheap, she meant cheap. If Two Buck Chuck makes an excellent addition to braised beef, Two Buck Chuck it is.

BTW, "cooking wine" isn't necessarily an abomination. Think mirin and shaoxing (Japanese rice wine and Chinese rice wine). The thought of using a rare, precious, delicate, floral sake instead of mirin in your sushi rice is just wrong.

PS Same goes for braising beef with beer. Use Guinness, and drink that wonderful Trappist made Belgian ale instead of pouring it over beef and onions!

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I stlll had some of the Barbaresco left that I opened a week ago and decided to put the last of it into the pot roast I made last night. I can't think of any other circumstance where I'd be putting a wine that good in pot roast, but since it had been open a week and we never drank the rest, it seemed a good use for it.

What it says, I don't know--since there are multiple variables--but I don't think I've ever produced such a great pot roast in my life. The flavor of the meat (on sale half price at Safeway) was incredible. I don't usually put wine in pot roast, so I'll have to try it with cheap wine next time for comparsion (though that's obviously not the same thing as side-by-side comparison).

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The article wasn't clear - what about "leftover wine" - meaning something that's been opened, oxidized and put in the refrigerator for a few weeks (months!) and then used to cook with? So it's "drinkable" wine that's become "undrinkable"...my experiments have been successful - even inexpensive 1/2 finished bottles of wine, red or white pulled out of the refrigerator have added nice acidity and flavors to a myriad of dishes. My conclusion is that wines as they oxidize, lose some fruit and seem more acidic, and thus you may want to reduce/adjust the other acids being added to the dish such as lemon or vinegar. Overall - I don't cook with oaky white wines - I was told that the oak reduces down and gets concentrated giving "off" flavors in the final dish - but it seems like I need to put this to the test

- Onward in the name of Science!!

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Not really related to the NYT article, but I'm planning on making coq au vin tonight. I've got a couple different kinds of red wine at home, and since I don't know much about them, I thought I'd see if anybody had an recommendations on which to use. The recipe (from Molly Stevens's 'All Bbout Braising') calls for a "dry, fruity red wine". The choices:

Linden Claret 2003 (2 bottles)

Linden Cabernet Franc 2005 (1 bottle)

I bought them a couple months ago at the vineyard and sadly, I remember nothing about why I picked them. I'm tempted to use the Claret just because there would be enough for the recipe and enough for drinking as well, but if anybody has strong feelings on which kind of wine should be used, I'll take that advice. Also, I'm open to buying something new, but would prefer to use one of these if they are stylistically close.

Also, I've actually never had coq au vin, so the "authenticity" of the dish is not something I'm terribly worried about. Just want it to taste good ;)

ETA: forgot to add this passage that Stevens put in the wine notes section:

Coq au Vin and red Burgundy is one of the all-time great food and wine pairings. Look for village-level Burgundies from Volnay, Pommard, or Beaune. Alternatively, try a Beaujolais Villages, or Pinot Noir from California, Oregon, or New Zealand
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Preferably, go get a French Burgundy, even a cheap one. Or at least a Pinot Noir. Barring that, any fruity, but not too heavy or tannic red will do.

As for using 'old' wine...I use the method of a 'generic' bottle for simpler and less important day to day dishes. A friend suggested this years ago and I swear it works great for me. Basically, if you have leftover wine, vacuvin it and stick it in the refrigerator. Then, every time you have leftover wine (use two bottles, one for reds one for whites), fill it in to this bottle until the bottle gets full. Then, if you end up having more leftover wine and an already full 'generic' bottle, pour most of the contents from the full generic bottle in to the newly available leftover wine to keep the stock fresh. Use this wine for anything. I do, except for when I am specifically cooking big or a more complicated recipe where I am trying to really nail the flavor combinations.

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I've been hoping to turn some oxidized Tokaji into vinegar by inoculating it with some active, unfiltered cider vinegar (including some stringy floating bits that I presumed were part of the vinegar mother). After a week or so of no obvious change, it's turned decidedly cloudy...is this a good sign? Anybody make their own wine vinegar out there?

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I use the rule, if you are not willing to drink it, don't cook with it. I guess that depends on what your definition of "willing"is. Most places I've worked just use Generic Chablis or cooking Port or Cab/Merlot for bulk recipies. At home, I tended to use something pretty cheap, but lively, good fruit on the whites, not to tannic on the reds. I would have a glass of it while I cooked. I was "willing" to drink it, but then I drank something better with dinner. If your recipe only calls from deglazing, then we just used an ounce or two or the dinner wine. I never, ever cooked with something that cost more than $20/bottle unless it was leftovers.

Call it my "rule of tounge" hah! ;) I crack myself up :P

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Wines...

The chicken ragu calls for a dry, white wine. Huh?

Before I make a grocery run: What type of whites should I look for? Could I use a dry champagne? Or, can I substitute the pinot noir (that I had planned to serve with the meal)?

Cooking with wine usually means a glass in/at hand.

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Wines...

The chicken ragu calls for a dry, white wine. Huh?

Before I make a grocery run: What type of whites should I look for? Could I use a dry champagne? Or, can I substitute the pinot noir (that I had planned to serve with the meal)?

Cooking with wine usually means a glass in/at hand.

Dry white wine-sure! I usually use a Pinot Grigio for dry white wine in cooking.

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^Other suggestions for cheap dry whites: Sauvignon Blanc or Chenin Blanc which you'll find in the $3 Charles Shaw label at Trader Joe's or all those potato-chip labels: Falling Leaf, Turning Leaf, Willow Creek, Glen Ellen...

* * *

MY SOS: Rodman's had some great, ripe persimmons on sale for $1.29 apiece last week. Puréed them w intention of trying to make a flan w pomegranate glaze that I made last year.

Thing is, persimmons apparently have the same enzyme you'll find in other tropical fruits such as pineapples which prevent you from putting the latter, raw, into Jell-O and expect it to set. Thus, the baking soda many recipes include which does something magical. Short story: a flan sets in two layers, not unpleasant at all, but.

David Lebovitz suggested cooking the purée first, then mixing it into the custard. So I did. However, when stirred stovetop, the purée transformed from a glossy, sweet, viscous liquid to a compact, opague, somewhat tannic mass with cellulite.

I tried smoothing it out w blender stick w little effect. I haven't tried pressing it through a fine-meshed sieve yet. If I can't achieve a decent texture, any suggestions for a good recipe that isn't the usual persimmon pudding? (For me, the addition of dried fruit, spices, nuts, etc. completely masks any persimmon flavor.) Thanks.

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On 7/3/2007 at 8:48 AM, Heather said:

What's this "leftover wine" you're talking about?

Haha! It's a rare occasion these days. Now, if I am out of a 'generic' wine, I open another bottle and it becomes the generic wine. Funny, that is the only way the generic bottle I maintain gets replenished now. Haha!

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$10-$20 for chardonnay or riesling is not expensive. Or even $5 bottles of chardonnay. That's what we use to cook with. Two-Buck Chuck is perfectly fine.

$100 bottles of champagne is a different story.

For me, there's a difference between $5 chardonnay and a $5 bottle of "cooking wine" which has salt and other crap added into it. Choose the wine instead.

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