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

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

pouring red wine
Credit: 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

meatballs with red wine tomato sauce

Braised Short Ribs with Red Wine Dates

braised short ribs with red wine and dates
Credit: Photography by Nicole Franzen

Orange Salad with Red Wine Syrup & Mint

orange salad with red wine syrup mint
Credit: Photography by Kate Mathis

Roasted Red Pepper & Hot Coppa 

roasted red pepper & hot coppa parmigiana
Credit: Photography by Tara Donne

Risotto Milanese with Asparagus & Shrimp

risotto milanese with asparagus & shrimp
Credit: Photography by Tara Donne

Tartiflette

tartiflette
Credit: Photography by Nicole Franzen

Recipe: Try our Tartiflette

Parpadelle with Brown Butter Meat Sauce & Crispy Sage

pappardelle with brown butter meat sauce and crispy sage
Credit: Photography by Armando Rafael

Albondigas (Spanish Meatballs with Beef, Pork & Ham)

Albondigas (Spanish Meatballs with Beef, Pork & Ham)
Credit: Photography by Armando Rafael