I don’t know that I’d drink that…


So, if you’re like me, when you hear ‘Sutter Home‘, you think of your parents, you thinkMemories of High School colored by cheap wine. of boxes of Franzia, you think of your high school classmates drinking bottles of Boone’s Farm “wine” (where wine is definitely used in the loosest of terms).

The little two dollar Sutter Home mini’s in my local grocery store (which is generally awesome for wine, but more about that in a future post) always make me think of some juvenile shoplifter looking for a easy drink, but they serve a great, great purpose.
Cooking.

Let’s be honest, that $30 bottle of Seghesio tastes great, but do you want to waste it on a Beef and Bacon stew?  Of course not.  Enter the mini.

But, a problem lies therein.  The Sutter Home mini is a bit under a cup, and most recipes call for a cup, at least of the recipes I cook.  Tonight, I had an open bottle of wine so topping off the cup was easy enough, but, I pondered the options while I cooked.  Well, ok, I pondered the options while the slow cooker powered through the stew (want the recipe?  let me know).

The SO generally uses CA Arbor (made by Black Oak, but yet, not listed on their website) but, well, while it isn’t a horrible wine, we don’t enjoy it.  So, we would end up wasting a the majority of a bottle when we only needed a cup, unless we make a lot of wine dishes that week.

So, I want to throw the question out to you, dear readers, what do you do?  Do you sacrifice the good wine for a recipe?  After all, the simpler the recipe, the better your ingredients should be.  Or do use the cheap stuff and see how long you can make it last (or use wine preserver on it)?  Or do you even drink down the cheap stuff, after all, everything is liked by someone, right?

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Reader Comments

I have always felt that if it’s not good enough to drink, it’s not good enough for my food, so, yeah, I’d _waste_ €30 on a bottle of wine to cook with.

I am in the opposite camp, as I think that a bottle of wine that isn’t that great for drinking can be an awesome addition to food. I bought a inexpensive malbec at Trader Joe’s that was awful to drink but turned a beef roast into a sensation. A bottle of petite sirah that had sat on my counter a while became an excellent flavoring for meatballs. And some remaining sauvignon blanc in the fridge that I wasn’t thrilled with was perfect for a pan sauce for pasta. I may be in the minority, but to me, if I am spending a lot on a bottle of wine, I want to enjoy it fully in my glass.

If I’m making a reduction sauce, I definitely want a decent bottle of wine. I’d go for a $15 bottle of merlot for that. If I’m just adding a little flavor to chili or stew, a mini or some other inexpensive wine will do just fine.

I usually go for those middle of the road wines for cooking. There are some decent wines out there between $10-$15 that I will drink the ‘extra’ left over from cooking. If the dish I am making is a wine sauce or something like that where it focuses on wine, I will break out the really good stuff, since you want to show it off.

Great idea! I am of the mindset that if I pay $30 for a bottle I am going to drink every drop and not put it in a stew. But actually it depends on what the dish will be. If it is a stew, cheap red becuase I usually use 1/2 bottle or more. If it is a delicate sauce, say for a nice mild fish, then I might up the price a bit and use what I would be drinking with the dish. Nice excuse to purchase an extra bottle!

@daniel: The problem I’ve always had with using a good bottle is that, well, we’re not always drinking wine. Sometimes, we might go a whole week without wanting to drink wine.

@Kate: Mmm. Wine flavoured meatballs. I might have to try something like that.

@Patricia: That’s just like the tomato butter sauce I made for you that one time, the simpler the recipe the more high quality the ingredients should be. If I was making a dish that used wine that had just a few ingredients, I think we’d need to use better wine. But, for a stew? There’s such a melange of flavours, a lower quality isn’t as noticeable.

@Melanie: Those $10-$15 bottles of wine are the most common we drink now. Sure, there’s the occasional foray up the chain, but, .. well, heck, come visit, we’ll show you.

@Deb: IF it’s a wine I’ve had before, I don’t think I’d need an excuse to get an extra bottle. =) Well, ok, maybe the Opus One I’d need an excuse…

I generally pefer a better wine when cooking. The price range is dependent upon the vintage, vintner, and type (full bodied vs. a medium bodied, flavor etc). I am of the same opinion as Kate about if spending a good amount on a bottle, I want to enjoy it. I would also definitely prefer a nice 97 Stags Leap with most of my red meat dishes :)