Should You Only Cook With Wine You'd Drink?

Have you heard this rule? We put it to a blind taste-test to find the truth.
By Tara Holland ,

You might have heard this rule before: Only cook with wine you'd drink. But is it true?

Photography by Getty Images

To put the theory to the test, we made a red-wine pan sauce using different bottles, ranging from cooking wine (a mix of low-quality wine and salt that you’ll find near the vinegar at the grocery store) to a $19 red blend that we’d happily pair with a steak dinner. We also tested a $15 Cabernet that we opened one evening, then put a cork in and forgot about for a few weeks (oops!). 

In a blind tasting, we weren’t surprised that cooking wine wasn’t a fan favorite, but we were shocked that the most expensive wine was our least favorite—and that the old red wine that smelled like vinegar tasted great in the sauce. 

The takeaway: Skip the cooking wine, save the spendy bottle for toasting your newfound knowledge, and never fret about a half-drunk bottle on the counter again. 

Now try these recipes!

Meatballs with Red Wine Tomato Sauce

Recipe: Try our Meatballs with Red Wine Tomato Sauce

Braised Short Ribs with Red Wine Dates

Photography by Nicole Franzen

Recipe: Try our Braised Short Ribs with Red Wine Dates

Orange Salad with Red Wine Syrup & Mint

Photography by Kate Mathis

Recipe: Try our Orange Salad with Red Wine Syrup & Mint

Roasted Red Pepper & Hot Coppa 

Photography by Tara Donne

Recipe: Try our Roasted Red Pepper & Hot Coppa Parmigiana

Risotto Milanese with Asparagus & Shrimp

Photography by Tara Donne

Recipe: Try our Risotto Milanese with Asparagus & Shrimp

Tartiflette

Photography by Nicole Franzen

Recipe: Try our Tartiflette

Parpadelle with Brown Butter Meat Sauce & Crispy Sage

Photography by Armando Rafael

Recipe: Try our Parpadelle with Brown Butter Meat Sauce & Crispy Sage

Albondigas (Spanish Meatballs with Beef, Pork & Ham)

Photography by Armando Rafael

Recipe: Try our Albondigas (Spanish Meatballs with Beef, Pork & Ham)

Join the Conversation