3) Only cook with something you like to drink. While this old adage is a great guideline you need not cook with a $50 bottle of wine, if indeed that is what you “like to drink”. This tip should read, “don’t cook with a wine that you would spit out”. When cooking wine, the characteristics change. Alcohol burns off and usually it reduces to concentrate the flavors. So concentrate a flavor you desire, don’t make an offensive sip worse by strengthening it in a dish. There are plenty of excellent wines for around $10/btl that you would drink and will work great in recipes. Don’t let the price tag trip you up. And when in doubt ask your wine shop owner/ manager. These guys have tasted the majority of what fills their shelves.
4) Dry vs. Sweet This tip is simple. If you are making a savory dish buy a dry wine. Fruit- forward does not mean sweet. If a label describes it’s wine as fruity, that just means concentrated fruit flavor it has nothing to do with sugar. For dry whites go for Chardonnay. For dry reds, you have more to choose from: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Pinot Noir (though this last category will be harder to find something sippable under $20) For sweeter whites look for Riesling, Semillon and Muscat and for even sweeter look for labels that read late- harvest and ice wine. For sweet reds, Lambrusco (a fizzy sweet Italian wine) or Port (technically a fortified wine because it has the addition of Brandy) will work great in your dessert recipes.