The steadfast rule has always been “don’t cook with wine you wouldn’t drink.” In reality, that is in reference to the ‘cooking wines’ that are located on the grocery shelf near the vinegars. Those ‘cooking wines’ have nothing to do with what you would drink from a wine glass. It turns out there are occasions you might use wine you wouldn’t drink.
For instance, you don’t like red wine and yet that is what’s called for in the recipe. Purchase a boxed red wine for the pantry as it’s shelf life is much longer than that bottle you’d have to open but won’t drink anyway. You have an opened bottle of wine that’s been stored in the refrigerator and the taste has turned somewhat. It’s perfectly fine to use that in a recipe where the wine will be heated, as in a reduction sauce (sauteed in a skillet on the stovetop where the liquid is cooked down to half its original volume). A wine that has turned becomes more like a flavored vinegar.
When using wine as an ingredient, does it need to be a “good” (expensive) bottle of wine? No, not at all, especially if it’s going to be cooked in the dish. My opinion is a “good” bottle of wine should be enjoyed from a glass. If the recipe does not give you guidelines, choose a dry wine if the finished product is savory, and a semi-sweet wine if the end result is dessert.
Perhaps you would like to add a dessert wine to your favorite brownie batter or the chocolate sauce that tops your popular ice cream sundaes. When adding wine as an ingredient, be sure to subtract the amount of the wine from the total liquid called for in the recipe.
A popular apron saying is “I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.” Wine has a place at your table but it also deserves a place in your recipes.
Of course I have heard about the class action law suit claiming there is too much arsenic in too many wines, especially low-cost wines. Of course I do not possess the knowledge required to determine the merits of the suit.
I know that it’s not uncommon for law suits to take place in America. I am not surprised to hear about corporate interests trumping health and well-being of people affected by those interests. I do have difficulty believing that wine producers of whatever level would deliberately endanger the well being of their customers. That said, I could name dozens of wine fraud incidents in just about every wine region in the world, some of which in Austria and Italy a couple of decades ago took the lives of a considerable number of people. Yet I have taken refuge in the knowledge that wine is one of the few food products that can be traced directly back to the producers, which makes it unlikely that a wine farmer or producer would deliberately bring shame to the winery.
It’s true that arsenic appears in many foods and drinks we consume. Some popular sparkling waters have from time to time been banned by the Food and Drug Administration because of arsenic content. It’s also true that the 83 wines identified in the plaintiff’s charge are all “industrialized” wines, that is wines produced on a mass scale.
I agree with proponents of the litigation that wineries should always be aware of the congruents in their wines and constantly check them for potentially dangerous levels.I always defend producers as generally keenly careful about the health and safety of their customers and their employees. At wine producer conferences and seminars I have attended, there have always been classes on wine law, healthful production, and topics relevant to dealing with pests, chemicals, cleaners, sanitation, and other items we never think about when extolling a particular vintage around a dinner table near a roaring fire.
I have no reason to doubt the findings of the lab bringing suit, but I do hope the judge and jury are appreciators of wine and the wine profession.
A beautiful full-color booklet recently arrived in my mailbox and it tells me anything I could ever want to know about the world’s most glamorous wine. I don’t know how available it is, but it caused me to visit www.champagne.fr which contains much of the text and most of the photos in the booklet plus a number of brochures. I encourage those of you searching for Champagne knowledge to pay the site a visit.
Great photos and a good read.