Dear Frugal Upstate,
What type of white wine do you use in your recipes-specifically in your Chicken Chili Blanco? I was wondering if you could give a better idea of kind and maybe brand of white wine? Thank you so much!
Well Theresa, wine is a great addition to many recipes. It not only adds flavor but it helps enhance and spread flavors throughout a dish*.
Since I’m a frugal gal-hey, it’s the topic of the blog and all-I can’t imagine going out and buying wine just to use in a recipe. Typically I just use whatever wine I have around the house.
Somewhere in the deep files of my mind I have the idea that dry wine is better for cooking savory dishes, but the truth is that Yankee Bill and I prefer fruity whites. Some of them are semi sweet, some are sweet. .. but it is a rare thing to find a bottle of chardonnay or pinot grigio in my home. As a matter of fact, although we buy quite a bit of wine on our annual “wine tasting tour” around the NY Fingerlakes, we do keep a box ‘o wine in the cupboard with a semi sweet white table wine, and that’s normally what I grab for recipes.
So if you already drink wine, I’d say just go with whatever you normally like to drink. But maybe you aren’t a wine drinker, what do you do then? It seems so wasteful to buy a whole bottle for a single recipe. You know wine doesn’t stay good for very long after you open the bottle-even if you refrigerate it-so what do you do with the rest?
Your first option is indeed to head on out and buy a decent but not expensive wine.
If you have no clue what to purchase something like a “Sutter Home” chardonnay would work, or you could just ask a friend who does partake what their recommendation for an inexpensive white is. Once you’ve used the portion you need for the recipe you can freeze the wine in recipe sized portions-say 1/2 C, or even in ice cube trays. That way you’d have wine when you need it right in your freezer. If you remember you have it. And of course you need to label it so you don’t wind up with miscellaneous frozen mystery lumps.
Your second option is to buy cooking wine.
I know, I know. . . every article I’ve ever read out there says “Don’t ever, ever cook with a wine that you wouldn’t drink” and then caution against using cooking wines. Cooking wines are sold in grocery stores and are packaged in small bottles, around the size of a vinegar bottle. They have preservatives added, usually salt. Trust me-no one would drink them. Blech. But unlike drinking wine they don’t spoil so they are good for someone who has an occasional recipe that calls for wine.
I’ve used cooking wine and been happy with the results. I always keep cooking sherry on hand for recipes (french onion soup doesn’t taste like french onion soup without it). I would have absolutely no idea of what kind of sherry to buy, and I’m never going to actually drink sherry, so the cooking version makes sense to me. If that makes me a plebe and a cooking moron, oh well-the folks who don’t like it don’t have to eat at my house.
Your third and final option is either to leave the wine out of the dish or to use a substitute.
Non alcoholic wine, fruit juice or broth can be used in place of wine in recipes-although the taste will of course be different. You can find a full list of suggested substitutions on the Homecooking section of About.com: Alcohol Cooking Substitutions
So there you have it Theresa, that’s how I handle cooking wine! I hope it was of some help to you.
PS- if you are wondering if the alcohol really burns off, according to Chow.com, the answer is no-it all doesn’t.
*Note: Actually any alcohol does this, hence soups with beer etc.
**Note: I have done work on campaigns for Holland House which produces cooking wines-but they are in no way sponsoring or giving me input to this post. All opinions are my own