Monday, November 08, 2004

guidelines for cooking with wine

A lot of Chinese recipes call for Chinese cooking wine or dry sherry. This is especially used in different meat marinades, because it contributes flavor and the wine acids/alcohols contribute to breaking down the meat, and flavoring and tenderizing it in the meanwhile.

Even so, the Chinese cooking wine (Xiaoxing) I have tasted was repulsive; as the rule goes, "if you wouldn't drink it, don't cook with it", so 95% of the bottle ended in the trash. Further, I have tasted dry sherry and am not a big fan.

So the next time I cook with wine, I will try a nice Chardonnay or a simple red table wine. Trader Joe's should be able to provide some reasonable alternatives. Here are a few more tips I gleaned from an article at

"1. If you are cooking with an off-dry wine or a sweet wine, the residual sugar will have an effect on the dish. So be aware. Depending on the nature of the dish, it might be desirable.

2. High oak and high tannins will add a perceivable note of bitterness. I generally avoid "monster reds" and "2 x 4 whites" for cooking. I don't like the added acrid notes."

And again, the old standby rule:

3. If you wouldn't drink it, certainly don't cook with it!

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