How to choose the right red wine for cooking

If you are not an oenophile, chances are there are a few aspects of wine that you might find confusing, especially when it comes to cooking. The good news is that selecting a good wine for cooking can be a breeze if you already have a favorite wine that you enjoy drinking. Those who are not really wine drinkers, though, should not panic. There are a few easy tips and hints for choosing the right red wine for cooking.

Cooking with red wine can be a bit more challenging than cooking with white wine because of the level of tannins in the red variety. Tannic qualities in red wines mean that it can become bitter when it is reduced too much (via Bon Appetit).

This is why it is important to either be careful with how much you reduce red wine while cooking, or to choose a red wine with fewer tannins. A good rule to follow when reducing red wine is to keep from reducing more than half of the liquid that is used in a dish. The only exception is when roasting meat low and slow for long periods of time, as the gelatinous fat in the meat helps to balance out the bitterness of the completely reduced wine.

Red wines to avoid when cooking

When choosing a red wine to cook with, there are a few great choices as well as some that are just safer to automatically avoid. The type of wine to definitely avoid is cooking wine that you might find in the grocery store. These wines already have the alcohol removed as well as have sodium and preservatives added that can alter the taste of your dish. When cooking with wine, the alcohol is removed as it is reduced, so there is really no need to use cooking wine that has already removed the alcohol.

Also, remember to stay away from bottles that have been open for a long time. These wines have been exposed to air for a while and have been oxidizing, which alters the flavor to be something unfamiliar. That's kind of like gambling with the dish you're cooking.

Another good rule of thumb is to choose a bottle you enjoy drinking. If you like to drink it, chances are you'll love it in your food too. Those who avoid red wine for drinking, but still wish to cook with it, should try merlot because it has fewer tannins than most red wines. This means it is softer and less dry, so it will not be as bitter when reduced.

Don't worry about cooking with an expensive bottle either. After it is reduced, you won't be able to taste the difference. Try cooking with pinot noir, Chianti, or cabernet sauvignon for good results (via Wine Enthusiast).