Someone asked me this the other day. We cook with both red and white wine and although they are very different beasts, we can use the same rule of thumb.
Firstly there is a saying ‘don’t cook with wine you wouldn’t drink’, and although true as you don’t want to cook with that bottle of 1811 Château d’Yquem or 1787 Château Lafite you have hidden away under the stairs, when it comes to cooking with wine you want a bottle that is straight down the middle ordinary.
That oaky Chardonnay you love is a great wine to quaff I’m sure, but those oaky overtones with come through in your dinner…not so delicious. Similarly that steely Sauvignon Blanc that is fantastic ice cold on a hot day will give a disturbing angle to your food. And definitely don’t use hock!
Try a white dry table wine. That’s right those bottles you don’t really pay attention to at the bottom of the wine rack. They are probably better than you think and are usually cheap and cheerful. Try one and if you really don’t think it will work you can always unblock the sink with it and buy another brand.
The same goes for red. Oak is out, as is something warming and smooth, better to drink and too good to waste. Get a good reasonably priced, unoaked medium bodied not too dry red and look for berry flavours. This should give you a great balanced flavour in your casserole or jus.
There is simply no substitute for red wine, but going back to white wine there is another way. In any recipe that requires white wine you can replace it Vermouth, it’s just as good. I always have a bottle in the kitchen, and contrary to common belief it seems to last indefinitely. Any brand will do, always on hand it’s a proper stalwart in my house.
I hope this helps you out if you weren’t sure what to buy for that recipe that simply askes for red or white wine.
Please do ask questions if you need to in the comments below.