There are two kinds of cooking wine. The wine you drink while you’re cooking and the wine that actually goes into what you’re cooking.
The advice “If it’s not good enough to drink it’s not good enough for cooking” obviously refers to the latter (since the former is drinking).
Some months ago a well-meaning guest brought a bottle of a recent vintage supermarket wine from a major winery, and of a series that I generally avoid. While I have found some quite respectable wines at the supermarket at very attractive prices, there are some I eschew, and this was one of them.
One day after work a couple of weeks ago, I decided to give it a try. All I can say is that it was quite vile. I had expected a shallow flat wine with no body or character, but this was bitter and undrinkable. Ever the optimist, and always curious, I stuck a vacuum stopper in the bottle and waited a couple of days. By this time much of the bitterness had dissipated, but the wine had already started to go sour.
Fast forward a couple of weeks to preparations for Shabbat dinner. Dina had bought short ribs, and wanting to prepare them in the slow cooker she asked me for some cooking wine. I told here there were a few open bottles in the pantry and to take whichever she wanted.
As luck would have it, Dina picked the aforementioned terrible wine.
Wonder of wonders, the short ribs were absolutely marvelous; I can’t remember having better.
Would the ribs have been even better cooked in a Kayoumi Shiraz? I suppose I’ll never know.
In the meantime, I, for one, have no problem cooking with wine that’s not good enough to drink. As long as I get to drink something else while I’m cooking.