Yossi’s Wine Page

If it’s not good enough to drink …

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.

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One thought on “If it’s not good enough to drink …

  1. I, too, would have been surprised that the ribs tasted so good, even though Dina used the vile wine for cooking them. I have several thoughts, including:
    1. Dina is a magician and such a fantastic cook that she could transform any ingredients into a gourmet meal.
    2. Dina tasted the wine before using it and it was so bad that she used something else, knowing that the ingredients are critical in the final taste. She then switched the bottles without your knowing it, making you think she used the bad stuff.
    3. The vile taste of the wine was due to something volatile and it cooked off.
    4. The ribs were of such high quality that nothing would have made them taste bad.

    What I really think happened is that the quality of the cooking wine doesn’t matter. I have never really tasted what they sell in the stores as cooking wine, but, no doubt, it tastes as vile as what you gave Dina. After all, there are many thing we use in cooking that we wouldn’t drink. Can you imagine sitting down to a nice glass of soy sauce or raising your cup for a L’Haim to balsamic vinegar? And would you drink lemon juice, straight up?

    By the way, who is your butcher?

    Dan Kovnat

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