Dry Red Wine


Dry Red Wines for Cooking

If you’re new in the world of red wines, you might be unaware of the terms of wine parlances. For example, red wines consist of dry wines and sweet wines, and in between, there seem several other wines. And yes, we know many of you might get overwhelmed because of the listings, and many of you might not see any difference in them. So what exactly a dry red wine is? If we try to define it in short, dry wines are the ones with no sugar residue. But this is not it. Let us dig deep.

Dry red wines give you quite a magical experience, and as magical as red wine is to drink, it really works wonders in desserts, stews, and sauces. More to it is that there is no specific way or technique to make use of it. You can be innovative in every way possible. The best dry red wines you can go hunting for cooking are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Chianti.

cooking pot
Photo by Sergio Camalich on Unsplash

What is Dry Red Wine?

Red wines that are not sweet and have no residual sugar are called dry red wines. While undergoing the fermentation process, the yeast absorbs all the sugar from the grapes, leaving behind an unsweetened liquor with a crisp taste.

With every sip, the joy of drinking dry red wine makes you experience the fantastic nuances of flavors blended together. As dry wines are considered quite complex and sophisticated at the same time, you can have various flavors ranging from tobacco, earth, chocolate, berry, and so on. Moreover, dry red wines are also used to combine with the meal to generate new flavors as the residual food flavoring.

What Makes Dry Red Wines so Popular?

The fact that dry red wines can be paired with various foods makes this wine super-popular among wine drinkers. Bringing together the food flavors and the dry red wine’s taste offers a tremendous sensory experience.

Furthermore, dry red wines like Zinfandel, Merlot, Shiraz or Syrah, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon are used extensively for cooking. And if you think why specifically these dry red wines are most famous among wine collectors and investors, this is because of their aging potential. Dry red wines generally have very high tannin levels that contribute to their age-worthiness. These wines can be easily stored in a wine cellar. And more to it is that they taste even better after a few years if proper storage conditions were maintained.

How to Buy Dry Red Wines?

No cookbook or wine book lays a hard rule for selecting a variety of wines. It totally depends on your creativeness and experimental techniques as to what you want to add wines to the dishes. Some recipes go best with the wines that give fruity flavor, although others might taste good with wines that are more on the acidic side. However, most of the recipes call for dry red wine, like Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Shiraz/Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Noir.

How to Use Dry Red Wines?

Dry red wines are generally used for deglazing and marinating, and adding flavors to sauces.

While cooking, do keep in mind that wine’s flavors might concentrate when the reduction process happens during cooking. If your dish is inclined to demand sweeter sauce to go with, you can go for Port or other fortified wine. Anyhow, if you want your sauce to be jammy, choose something with a full body.

Remember that you cook your wine for at least 3 to 4 minutes after adding a recipe. This will allow the wine’s flavor to enhance and blend in with the recipes.

reduction of red wine process
Reduction of red wine for a sauce by cooking it on a stovetop. By nanamin2003 – Flickr

Can You Interchange Red and White Wine?

While both red and white wine tenderize and moisten, they both hold different characteristics and usually are perfect for different flavor profiles. So, just because red and white wine have related food effects, that doesn’t mean you can use any old wine in your cellar. So no, in recipes that call for white, you can not substitute red wine.

White wines deliver light, acidity, and light softness, whereas red wines give the bitter, intense tastes for bold and hearty dishes. Since red wine is tannic than white, when cooked, it turns bitter faster. Therefore, in seafood and chicken recipes, white wine is common, while red wine is used in roasts and meaty stews. In marinades and glazes, red wine may be used as well.

There are chances your food may turn out to be more or less inedible if you pick a too bitter and tannic wine. One more thing to remember, red wine can break down large, fatty meat cuts; it can also retain super-moist light proteins such as fish and impart great flavor.

Simple Guide to the Type of Red Wine to Stick to When you Shop

  • For vegetable sauces, you can try a light Merlot or Chianti.
  • If you are cooking seafood, Pinot Noir should be your pick.
  • For pork, chicken, or duck, Merlot is the best.
  • While preparing recipes of lamb, beef, or stew, choose Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir.

Tips for Cooking

Now you know which varieties to look for when you visit the liquor store or wine shop next time. But before you reach the kitchen, there are some things that you should remember. Take note of these tips, and cook with ease.


  • Cook with wines that you enjoy drinking. You will probably be pleased with how it tastes in your food if it tastes nice to you out of a bottle.
  • No matter what you are cooking, keep a check on the wine’s cooking temperature. Always cook wine on low. Cookbooks found that the dry wines would always result in an edgy and sour taste if cooked over high heat (say for a pan sauce or tomato sauce). The same sauce recipe tastes entirely different when it is slowly reduced.
  • Do not use wine that is pricey or fancy. When the wine is cooked, much of its delicious intricacies would be boiled off, so it’s just a waste of quality. In a low-quality wine, heat can make the unappetizing qualities more evident, but the price usually does not matter long as you use the right style. You will undoubtedly find plenty of strong bottles in the range of $10 to $20.
  • Stop using old wine. About a week ago, if you opened a bottle, it’s now starting to get oxidized, and it’s likely to taste different. If in doubt, just pop open a new bottle.
  • Avoid using Shiraz, Zinfandel, and extra rich, full-bodied reds. They can make your food bitter or chalky due to their tannic nature. If all you have is one of these, just use it for the heartiest of meals, such as lamb’s leg or brisket. Be cautious with sweet, berry-forward reds like Beaujolais nouveau and Grenache, too; if the recipe is not acidic enough, they can make a dish overly sweet.
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