I was always told that if I was going to cook with wine just buy a cheap bottle as it makes no difference once you cook away the alcohol.

Is this true or would a more expensive bottle give me more flavor in the food? Is there a big enough different to warrant spending a bit more money on a expensive wine rather than the cheaper bottle?


4 Answers 4


It all depends on what you are making and what you are drinking!

Some people reach for the cheap bottle that's in the door of the fridge when making a braise, where the wine will cook for a long time.

Others use the type of wine you’d serve with dinner to make the dish. Even better, unless you’re pouring something rare or expensive, buy an extra bottle and cook with it. When you’re cooking with red wine, watch out for tannins. When concentrated in reduction sauces, they can become harsh. Fortunately, proteins found in meat and dairy declaw tannins like milk does tea.

Wines contains sugars, acids, and tannins, and each of these will show up on the plate. Subtle characteristics, by contrast, normally disappear with cooking. To maintain balance, check your recipe for acidic ingredients like lemon juice or vinegar and cut back to make room for the acid in the wine. This is especially crucial when cooking with white wine. For delicate fish or vegetables, a dry non-oaked wine works best. If your recipe is packed with onions, carrots and tomatoes, there will be plenty of sugars in the pot, so cooking with a fuller-bodied, less dry red or white wine can integrate perfectly.

For deeper flavors, experiment with fortified wines like Port, Sherry, Madeira and Marsala. Michael Schachner offers some helpful tips and recipes on cooking with fortified wine in this piece.

Cook with a wine you would drink. Do not use a wine to cook if you would never drink it in a glass or serve it with food.

• Start with a basic red or white wine. An example of a good white to cook with is Sauvignon Blanc. Try Chianti or Cabernet Sauvignon for a red.

• Avoid using wines that are labeled "cooking wines." These wines contain a lot of salt and other additives and you would never drink them in a glass.

  • 1
    "Cook with a wine you would drink". There are other reasons for this, besides the fact that you want good flavors in your food - you just about never use the entire bottle for your dish, so you might as well drink the rest while you're cooking! May 24, 2016 at 17:53

The more expensive bit is not true, but the type of wine does make a dramatic difference to the taste imparted to your food.

As an extreme example compare cooking a steak with a light white wine sauce to cooking it with a heavy Merlot.

Even within a particular grape, there are differences in how full or heavy the taste is.

So don't worry about the price (go for a cheap one) and instead think about what flavours you want to go into your food.


Yes the alcohol cooks off but the flavor is not in the alcohol.

If you would not drink it then don't cook with it. The flavor of the wine will come through.

For me I do not cook with an expensive full body red as then just too much comes through.

More about grape and just get a decent wine.

Like Chardonnay with clams you would get some oak coming through with a nicer bottle but I am not going to spend more than $12 on cooking wine.

You don't use that much. You can just use the wine you would pair with the meal. I don't drink much white so I will typically use the wine I am serving with the meal.

A pork chop with onion and peppers I will use a $4 red bottle I would drink.

Another trick is if they are starting to go bad then cooking wine. But wine rarely stays around long enough to go bad at my house.


I used to have the opinion that it didn't really matter that much whether wine used in cooking was a great wine or not. I admit I was somewhat biased as I didn't want to waste good wine when I could drink it. 😂

After making really great award winning wine on a commercial basis and having extra wine on hand (Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Port, etc.), my thoughts have changed. My wife & I have found, along with others that have cooked with us, that there is a big difference in using great wine in cooking! I'm a believer!

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