Exploring the Best Red Cooking Wines

Chef Dan Catanio , On July 1, 2023

Cooking with Red Wine Adds Moisture, Flavor, and Acidity to Your Creations.

Best Red Cooking Wines Overview

Red wine adds flavor and depth to your culinary creations. During the cooking process, the alcohol in the wine burns off and when reduced adds a concentrated and intense flavor to your culinary creations. There is no need to use an expensive bottle when cooking with red wine. A red wine that blends different types of grapes from a broad geographic region is generally affordable and perfectly good to cook with. More on this below.

Exploring the Best Red Cooking Wines Video

Recommendations And Insights For the Perfect Red Cooking Wine

Red Cooking Wines can be in budget! Opt for a bottle of wine that is no more than $10 in price. If you are able to enjoy a glass of the wine, then go ahead and incorporate it into your dish! I would specifically recommend a red blend, which is a wine made from a diverse grape variety. These red blend wines are generally budget friendly and work great in many dishes. Here is a quick summary fo what to look for in a red cooking wine:

  • Use a red wine from a generic geographic region: Usually, when the bottle of wine specifies the region the wine originates from it tends to be more expensive. Using a wine that blends grapes from different regions takes away from the price of the wine without taking away from the culinary flavor it can add to your dish.

  • Use a red wine that blends different types of grapes: Wine that uses a very specific type of grape is named after the type of grape it uses. (e.g. Merlot is the name of the wine made with Merlot grapes) and tends to be more expensive. A wine that keeps the label generic frequently uses a blend of grapes and is less expensive.

  • Utilize Local Wines

    Generic labels on wines means the wine is less expensive but can still be a tasty and good to cooking wine.

  • Experiment to Your Own Taste: As there are many different types of red wines, you may be lost on which red wine to use for your dish. All in all, the rule of thumb would be to experiment! If there is a wine that you would not mind having a glass of, utilize that wine into your cooking.

Red Cooking Wines to Avoid

  • Avoid High Salt Content: I would advise to steer clear of half-gallon wines with elevated salt content. These wines, labeled as cooking wines, are designed for prolonged shelf life but may not deliver the desired flavors in your dishes so I would recommend opting for wines with natural taste profiles.

    Don't Use Gallon Wines

    Avoid Using Gallon Wine Bottles With Elevated Salt Content

Different Types of Red Cooking Wine

New World Wines

New World wines are wines produced in regions out of Europe, for example wine produced in California would be a new world wine! These New World wines have a fruiter taste to them as they have a lower acidity and are much riper on the palate. Some examples of New World wines are:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon: Cabernet Sauvignon is a bold and robust red wine variety that adds complexity and depth to a range of dishes. This wine pairs exceptionally well with red meat-based dishes, stews, and hearty sauces, imparting a rich and luxurious taste to your creations.

  • Merlot: Merlot is renowned for its soft and velvety texture and fruity notes, making it an excellent option for cooking. It pairs wonderfully with poultry, lamb, and mushroom-based recipes. The balanced and approachable nature of Merlot makes it a popular choice for those seeking a milder red cooking wine.

  • Syrah/Shiraz: Syrah, also known as Shiraz in some regions, is a bold and full-bodied red wine variety. Syrah works wonders in braised dishes, stews, and game meat recipes, as it can withstand robust flavors while imparting a distinct and powerful taste.

Old World Wines

Old World wine refers to wines that are produced in regions with a long history of winemaking traditions, such as Europe. Compared to the New World wines, Old World wines are more acidic and mineral-based, making most Old World wines soft, elegant and tannic. Example a of Old World wines are:

  • Pinot Noir: For those seeking a more delicate and nuanced red cooking wine, Pinot Noir is an exquisite option. Pinot Noir pairs well with poultry, fish, and vegetarian dishes. It lends a subtle and refined touch, enhancing the flavors without overpowering the dish.

Recipes That Incorporate Red Wine

Red cooking wine can be used in a variety of dishes to enhance their flavor and create depth. Here are some specific dishes where cooking wine shines:

  • Red Wine Braised Short Ribs: Red wine is an essential component in braising short ribs, as it helps break down the meat and infuse it with rich flavors. A robust red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah works well to create succulent, melt-in-your-mouth short ribs.

    Beef stew recipe that uses red wine.

    Red Wine Short Ribs Recipe

  • Beef Stew: Red wine is a fantastic ingredient for beef stew, providing a deep and robust flavor to the dish. Varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot work wonderfully to create a hearty and flavorful stew.

    Beef stew recipe that uses red wine.

    Beef Stew Recipe That Uses Red Wine

  • Roast Beef: Allowing the wine to soak up into the meat enhances the flavor and juiciness of the roast beef. A robust red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah would work well with this dish, but ultimately, personal preference plays a significant role in selecting the best red wine for roast beef. If there is a specific flavor or characteristic of a wine you enjoy, feel free to experiment and add it to your roast beef recipe!

Cooking Wine Tips

  • Save leftover wine for cooking by freezing it in freezer bags or ice cube trays.

  • Frozen wine can be used in stocks and sauces to enhance their taste.

  • When in need of chilled wine quickly, add a large handful of salt to an ice bucket to reduce the freezing point of water, allowing your wine to chill in just six minutes.

Best Red Cooking Wines Conclusion

In summary, red cooking wines should be affordable but should still be enjoyable to drink. Look for generic labels with different grape blends. Also, any leftover wine that is a few days old can make for a great wine to cook with!

Chef Dan Catanio

A Culinary Institute of America graduate from the 1990s, Chef Dan began his career as a saucier at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan under the Hilton Corporation. Over the years, he has held key positions such as Corporate Executive Chef Director at 5-star restaurants, country clubs, and Indian Casino Resorts.