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Cooking with wine/alcohol. How do you approach this?

560 Views 10 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  almadianna
I was wondering whether other people actually cook with alcohol.

I really like wine in sauces and so forth, but I drink maybe a glass of wine about every 2 months (unless someone actually puts one in my hand)!

I have lots of recipes that call for things like sake, sherry, white wine or even port. I don't like the salted cooking wines much, but maybe there are good ones out there. Do you keep open bottles in the fridge for months on end? Drink them while you cook? Substitute with other things, like apple juice?

I used to keep a bottle of sweet and dry white/red vermouth to use in recipes that called for white/red wine. I also kept a bottle of sherry around pretty much indefinitely.

Sake seems to not be shelf-stable, but I'd love to have this around since I like Japanese food.

I wouldn't be opposed to building up a little stock of liquor and wine for cooking, as long as it would keep for a good long time.

Any ideas?
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The salted cooking wines are YUCK. Not worth a thing IMO.

We are also not wine drinkers here but we cook with it. The good thing is you can buy pretty much any cheap real wine and it will work just fine for cooking. The $4-5 a bottle stuff - just fine. If you live where there is Trader Joes and they sell alcohol - not allowed here in PA, boo - the 2-buck chuck is a good bet.

We have never had a problem with keeping wine for a long time just on the shelf and cooking with it. If wine goes bad it turns into vinegar so a quick whiff will tell you if it's still OK to use.

Also I am not really up on the subtle nuances of wines but I find sherry and white wine sure smell the same and I have used them interchangably in recipes with no problems. Like I had a recipe that called for X of sherry and Y of white wine... yeah. Whatever. I just used all of one or the other and it was fine.
Well, we almost never have leftover wine in this house BUT you can freeze it for cooking. I have frozen it in ice cube trays in the past. I measure it so I know how many cubes/cup or whatever, then pop all the cubes in a ziplock. Wine doesn't freeze solid of course, kinda slushy, but works well. I have also kept marsala for a long time in the fridge, but I wouldn't do that with regular drinking wine.

Although there are plenty of cheap wines that taste good (especially at TJ's), you really do NOT want to cook with wine that you wouldn't want to drink because the flavor gets concentrated. Though you may not think you can really taste it, believe me you can! My mom used her nasty cheap rose one time in some dish bc she didn't have white wine. Oh it was beyond horrible tasting. It was all I could taste. So I would also skip the cooking wines generally. They are pretty icky.
we like to cook with wines/liquors. However, to have a large bottle of say sherry around would be a waste as we might only use it 1 or 2 times to cook. Maybe DH might drink a bit but not enought in my mind to justify the waste/expense. We ended up buying smaller wine bottles, like the personal size serving ones. World market and liquor stores normally carry that size. i also buy those airline sized mini bar bottles
to use in cooking. That way we can try different brands/flavorings without much of a commitment if say we dont like it. Also we are able to store them in our pantry and open as needed instead of figuring out how to store once opened. we never buy *cooking wines* as imo they are very salty and yucky when they get reduced down. I prefer using things we would drink, as we already like the taste, and use that instead. I just made a wonderful vodka pasta sauce this week and used my favorate vodka....yumm!
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I do cook with alcohol, but I'm actually a fair bit of a teetotaler. I just don't drink it very often (like once a year maybe). I keep a bottle each of good red and white (about $10/bottle) in the kitchen, and I have a vacuum sealer for them. I also keep sherry, marsala and port in the liquor cabinet (these *really* need the vacuum sealer), and a bottle of sake in the fridge. I haven't noticed any problem with the sake turning if it's refrigerated. I just picked up one of those $10 hand-pump vacuum sealer things with the special "corks". I was getting sick of the red wines (and ports) turning on me. The white wine does fine without it, since that's what I use the most/quickest, but the reds can turn within days.

I also hold to the maxim that if it's not good enough to drink, it's not good enough to cook with. And that would be true for most 2 buck chucks, IMO. But then I'm in wine country, so I have access to all sorts of local decent wines for relatively cheap. I tend to get Fetzer or Sutter, Chard or Sauv Blanc, for cooking. At $7/bottle it's a good buy, and works in just about anything.

TJs does have a good selection of the more "exotic" wines though - the ports, marsala and sherries I get all of those from TJs. Because they don't have to be the best, they just have to be decent, those work well for me.

Sake I get in the small bottles, usually from Cost Plus World Market. It's a bit pricier, but they tend to be better quality. Most of the stuff I find at the grocery store is rot-gut quality. Good sake should be drinkable when chilled. Most of the time you'll see sake heated because it disguises the quality/taste.
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The very best trick I discovered was to use a good-quality boxed red and white wine for cooking. Boxed wine is never exposed to air as you use it so it never goes bad. I believe in using good, not crappy wines in my cooking (I never cook with anything I wouldn't drink out of a glass) so it can be a bit challenging to find a decent quality boxed wine. Usually the wine that comes in boxes is pretty bad. A local wine shop stocks several varieties that are actually quite nice. I keep the box in the cupboard and have wine "on tap" whenever I need it for a recipe.
What is this "leftover wine" you speak of??

I have only ever cooked with wine, and the occasional beer (in my chilli). We just polish off the bottle if there is any left.

Originally Posted by just_lily View Post
What is this "leftover wine" you speak of??

How about freezing leftover wine in ice cube trays then storing the cubes in a bag in the fridge? That way it's a good size for adding to dishes.
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DH drinks the leftovers... though in some things, I do substitute... sometimes chicken broth for white wine. Chicken marsala needs marsala wine though, and there is some recipe that I use sherry in (or used to before food intolerances wiped out half of my recipes).
Thanks for all the ideas! Wine is fairly expensive here in Nova Scotia and I like to buy local stuff, just like food. I love the freezer idea and it sounds like it might be worth investing in a couple of vaccuum sealers, too.

FTR, I LOVE wine; but one glass is about all I can drink before I pass out and dh drinks about 3 glasses of wine a year. I have an extreme sensitivity to red wine, too; though I can tolerate enough of it to cook with (a little). So definitely need a sealer for that.

I do like the serving-size bottles of wine, though it's usually a "nothing special" variety that I can find and even that is a little over $3.

I'm a total foodie and I do really like what alcohol can do for a recipe, so I'd like to expand my knowledge and capabilities around this.

I cook with alcohol all of the time. We always have beern in the house and there are a few recipes that I know that call for it. We have a 7 foot wine rack that is full most of the time with all kinds of wines.

Left over wine?
I have never heard of such a thing!
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