Why the Wine you Cook with Should be (at Least) Good Enough to Drink

Think any old wine will do for cooking? Well, think again.

According to Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”, the type of wine we cook with matters. Since the flavours of the wine become concentrated through cooking, a bad wine will become obvious in pasta sauces and risotto and the like.

Julia Child’s advice, in essence, is that if you don’t have a good wine to use in your cooking, then don’t add wine or don’t make that dish.

So, what is a good wine for cooking?

For dishes that require white wine, a strong and dry wine, perhaps Chardonnay, is recommended. This could be a French Chardonnay, such as from Burgundy, or something more local, such as a Yarra Valley Chardonnay for Australians or a Chardonnay from Gimblett Gravels for New Zealanders.

When cooking with red wine, a good, young, full-bodied red is best. Julia Child suggests a more full-bodied right bank Bordeaux, such as a St-Émilion, but a Priorat from Spain would probably be good too. Australian Shiraz or Grenache would be good local alternatives and an Argentinian Malbec is a good value option for an international red wine.

The message that quality matters also applies when fortified wines, spirits, and liqueurs are needed in recipes. So when making sauces, or even fruit cake, a good Cognac is in order.

I am glad I stumbled across this cooking wisdom. I can cook with my wine and drink it too.

More about Christina

I am a psychology scholar interested in what makes life both pleasurable and meaningful. I suppose I am an epicurean in the sense that I like good food and wine; but, like the philosopher Epicurus, who actually advocated for tranquility, my international wine and food adventures are more about finding peace than anything else. They are about connecting with others, connecting with the earth, and practising self-compassion. My favourite grape variety is Nebbiolo, I love the way poetry expresses our common humanity, and I believe it's possible to find love in each micro-moment of life. So perhaps it was inevitable I would create this site called Falling in Wine.

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