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[ULTIMATE GUIDE] Red Wine for Cooking

[ULTIMATE GUIDE] Red Wine for Cooking

Jonas Muthoni

Why is food cooked in wine?

Some foods are cooked in wine to get the concentrated flavors.

Tip: Do not use “cooking wine” sold in stores like Madeira or red wine vinegar. You will typically find these near the condiments and dressings or spices and oils.

However, these are often too salty and do not do a whole lot to enhance the flavor of the dish. They are generally made from extremely low-quality grapes or re-purposed from faulted wine.

Never cook with a wine that you wouldn’t drink yourself.

How To Cook With Wine?

You generally see people just pouring part of a bottle of wine onto their dish while cooking.

But it’s not that simple.

Generally you need to take care of the following two points:

1. Be Sure You Get The Right Ratio

  • Too much wine can overpower a dish.
  • Too little wine can be too insignificant to notice.

Thus, you can refer to a recipe to know the correct ratio of wine to be used in cooking.

2. Timing Of Adding Wine

  • If you add it in too late, the flavors of the wine will be too harsh and the alcohol may not have had time to evaporate completely. Adding the wine too late in the cooking process may also not allow the flavor of the wine to incorporate themselves into the dish.
  • The earlier you add wine the better; it won’t ruin your dish to have extra delicious wine flavors.

How much wine you cook with completely depends on the meat, how much meat you are using, how long the cooking process is for that dish, what the cooking process is, and more.

We highly recommend searching for some recipes. There are so many great recipes out there and most of them are quite simple. You will surprise yourself with how tasty a roast is with only adding wine, olive oil, garlic, and rosemary.

The correct term for a wine sauce is a wine reduction. Half a cup of wine typically gives you a couple of tablespoons of reduction. So it’s not a lot. Keep that in mind when cooking.

What Foods Are Commonly Cooked With Wine?

Common dishes you will see with some component of red wine are:

  • Beef stews
  • Wine-based sauces
  • Spaghetti
  • Short ribs
  • Duck breast

Savory meats like beef, lamb, and duck are excellent for braising with wine. Using wine as a marinade for these meats will also do wonders. It enhances the flavor profile and keeps the meat moist while cooking.

Add in some rosemary and olive oil and you are pretty much a chef.

You can also make a pan sauce to add to your dishes. Poaching is also a way to cook with red wine.

White wines like Chardonnay are great for seafood like:

  • Clams
  • Halibut dishes

Bolder white wines like Chardonnay or Roussane are used for cooking because they are not as acidic as a wine like Sauvignon Blanc and they give more flavor. You also don’t want a white wine that is overly fruity.

Check out for some delicious recipes calling for a red wine that will make you feel like a star of Food Network.

Which Red Wines Are Best For Cooking?

Don’t even think about substituting white wine when a recipe calls for red wine; or vice versa.

The tannins and acidity play a huge role in how your dish will play out. The best type of red wine to use with your cooking is one that pairs well with the dish.

The best wines to cook with are

  • Pinot Noir
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Shiraz (Syrah)
  • Merlot
  • Sangiovese (Italian Chianti)
  • Zinfandel

These are the classic cooking wines. Just make sure it is a dry red wine.

When in doubt, use a Pinot Noir. It is a dry wine that is mild in flavor but will do what it needs to do in the recipe.

Keep in mind, it does not need to be the best bottle of wine you have ever bought. Something affordable in the $8-10 range is considered good wine for cooking with. This can buy you an affordable Burgundy at any wine shop.

Make sure it is something you like to drink as well, as most of these recipes do not call for a whole bottle of wine and it is fun to drink while you cook.

Boxed red wine is also a great option! Why? Look at some its features:

  • Affordable
  • Tasty
  • It still has plenty of wine leftover to drink
  • It stays good after opening for a month or longer

The Wine Lover’s Kitchen is a great resource for those looking to channel their inner Julia Child.


Malbec wine

Malbec Wine- A Good Alternative

Do you enjoy the smokiness and rich flavor of Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah?

Do you find that a glass (and especially a bottle) of either of these full-bodied wines costs you more than you care to spend?

If your taste buds fancy these flavors, you may be looking for a cost-friendly alternative that will please your taste buds and your wallet.

Malbec wine is a type of wine that is often forgotten.

It tends to slide right beneath Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, most likely due to the familiarness of the names of both of those red wines. However, Malbec wine is a great choice for a rich, full-bodied red wine that pairs nicely with a variety of foods.

You will never forget about Malbec wine once you give it a try! Let’s take a closer look at some of the interest facts about Malbec wine and how you can enjoy it in your life.

Facts About Malbec Wine

  • As the name suggests, Malbec wine is made from the Malbec grape.
  • The Malbec grape is originally from France.
  • It was actually created as a cross between two other grapes from two different regions in France. Today, you can find a majority of Malbec grapes growing in Cahors, France.
  • Malbec grapes love back and forth weather. They also really thrive in higher elevations. Therefore, you will most likely find that malbec grapes grow well in higher elevated areas where the weather is warmer in the day and cooler at night. This helps them achieve their acidity level that is needed to bring the unique flavor out of the grape and into the wine.
  • The longer malbec wine oak ages, the more costly it will be. This is quite a commonly known fact, but for malbec’s typically inexpensive price tag, it is important to know what you’re looking for when you buy. If a Malbec wine has been oak aging for 18-20 months, you can expect the price tag to hover around $24+. While this is not the most expensive wine option, it is quite pricey compared to other malbec wine options.
  • It is believed that Argentina actually saved the Malbec grape. How? It is thought by many wine historians that the Malbec grape was on its way out of the wine industry before the French botanist took the grape to Argentina. It was there that he brought the grape back to life and helped bring it back to the top 18 noble grapes list. Now, Malbec grapes are grown all over the world.

The Best Food Pairings For Your Malbec Wine

Whether you choose to delight yourself in Malbec wine or a blend of Malbec grapes, finding the perfect pairing in regards to food will leave your taste buds screaming for more.

Knowing the perfect food pairings for your Malbec wine is important. Let’s take a look at the variety of foods you can pair your Malbec wine with for an optimal tasting experience.

See Also


  1. The Best Vegetables-
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Beets
  • Black Beans
  • Lentils
  • Red Bell Peppers (and more)
  1. The Best Cheese-
  • Goat’s Cheese
  • Semi-firm to Soft Cow’s Cheese
  1. The Best Meat-
  • Lean Red Meat
  • Dark Poultry
  • Buffalo
  • Pork
  • Duck
  • Lamb (and more)
  1. The Best Spices-
  • Rosemary
  • Juniper
  • Clove
  • Garlic
  • Shallot
  • Barbeque Sauce

And any other earthy or smoky flavored spices.

While you can blend malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon, one way that Malbec wine is different (and better for some cases) is that it does not have a super long finish. This means that the taste of the wine will not linger on your taste buds.

Depending on the particular type of food you are eating, having a wine with a shorter finish is actually more ideal.

If you enjoy wilder flavors such as cumin, blue cheese, mushrooms, or gamey meat like ostrich or leaner cuts such as venison or moose, you will find malbec wine to be the perfect pairing for your meal.

Malbec Wine Recommendations

Here are 4 of the best malbec wine brands you can try today for under $20:

  1. Trapiche Medalla Malbec– 100% made in Argentina
  2. Septima Obra Malbec– Dark and spicy
  3. Columbia Crest Reserve Malbec– blend with Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec
  4. Padrillos Malbec– Aged in liter oak barrels

Below are some of the FAQs related to using wine to cook.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question 1- Is Old Or Leftover Wine Okay To Cook With?

Answer- If you are using some leftover wine from last week to cook with, you should be okay.

The general rule is that you can let an opened bottle sit for an extra week longer than recommended if using it for cooking. Slight oxidation will not harm the dish and some recipes even call for oxidized wine like Marsala; which is a common cooking wine.

However, you should only use Marsala or Madeira in dishes that call for these, as they are oxidized and produce a slightly different flavor than cooking with regular wine. It won’t harm your dish though or make an over-dramatic difference in the way it tastes if that is all you have on hand.

Question 2- Is Corked Or Bad Wine Okay To Cook With?

Answer- No.

Those gross flavors can transfer over into your dish…gross. As the wine reduces, these flavors will end up even more concentrated and may be a lot more noticeable in the dish.

Looking to make clams or a cream wine and butter sauce? Check out how to choose a dry white wine for cooking.

Question 3- What Happens To The Wine When It Cooks?

Answer- When wine is cooked the alcohol evaporates.

The sulphites, which some people claim to be sensitive to, also evaporate during the cooking process. You end up being left with a small portion of the wine you started with. The ‘sauce’ you are left with is the wine reduction. Sometimes with roasts, there is no sauce leftover because the wine has incorporated itself into the meat.

That’s a wrap!

Hope you now have a clear idea of using red wine for cooking.

Happy cooking!

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