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What are the Best Wines for Cooking?

What are the Best Wines for Cooking?


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How to find wines that work great in recipes—and in your glass.

It's easy to find a good wine to drink while you cook―in fact, it's often easier than finding the right wine to cook with in recipes. That's because when listed as an ingredient, wine is often suggested in the most generic terms. When a recipe says, "1 cup dry white wine," you're left to wonder: "Will anything from $5 to $25 do?" and "Can the recipe yield equally flavorful results with either a California Chardonnay or French Sancerre?"

To me, the term cooking wine has two meanings: There's the wine you put in a dish, and―equally as important―the wine you sip while you cook. I think there's no better way to spend an evening than concocting a delicious dish while sipping a good wine for inspiration. Here are guidelines to help you make the best pick.

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If a recipe calls for dry white wine, the best all-around choice is a quality American Sauvignon Blanc.
This wine will be very dry and offer a fresh light herbal tilt that will enhance nearly any dish.

If the dish has bold or spicy flavors, go for a more aromatic white wine.
Gewurztraminer, Riesling, and Viognier all have dynamic fruity flavors and exotic floral aromas that counterbalance heavily spiced dishes.

If a recipe calls for dry red wine, consider the heartiness of the dish.
A long-simmered leg of lamb or beef roast calls for a correspondingly hearty wine, such as a Petite Syrah or a Zinfandel. A lighter dish might call for a less powerful red―think Pinot Noir or Chianti.

Get to know Port, Sherry, Madeira, and Marsala.
These are among the best wines good cooks can have on hand. They pack the most intense flavors and―because they're fortified with a little more alcohol than table wine―have the longest life on the pantry shelf.

  • Port has a rich sweetness and depth that's especially good in meat-based casseroles.
  • Sherry's complex roasted nutty flavors can enhance just about any soup, stew, or sautéed dish. Two styles of Sherry that work best are Amontillado or Oloroso.
  • Madeira can be mesmerizingly lush with toffee-caramel notes. Use the medium-rich style known as Bual, a touch of which will transform ordinary sautèed mushrooms. And Marsala's light caramel-like fruitiness is an integral part of Mediterranean sautès, many of which bear the wine's name in their titles.

Avoid using cooking wines.
Clearly there are far better choices than so-called "cooking Sherry" or other liquids commonly billed as "cooking wine." These are made of a thin, cheap base wine to which salt and food coloring have been added.

Never cook with a wine you wouldn't drink.
A poor quality wine with sour or bitter flavors will only contribute those flavors to the dish. Julia Child once said, "If you do not have a good wine to use, it is far better to omit it, for a poor one can spoil a simple dish and utterly debase a noble one." It's worth the investment to buy a quality wine. Just don't forget to sip a little as you stir.

What happens to the alcohol?
Conventional wisdom holds that after a few minutes of cooking, the alcohol in wine evaporates. That's not exactly the case. Research from the USDA shows that 85 percent of the alcohol remains after wine is added to a boiling liquid and then removed from the heat. The longer a dish is cooked, however, the less alcohol remains. If a food is baked or simmered 15 minutes, 40 percent of the alcohol will remain; after one hour, only 25 percent remains; after 2 1/2 hours, just 5 percent. But since wine does not have a large amount of alcohol to begin with (generally 12 to 14 percent), the final amount of alcohol in a dish is not a problem for most people.


These Are the Best White Wines for Cooking

So many of our favorite recipes call for a splash of white wine: pasta sauces, soups, chicken dinners. We're not wine snobs around here, so we don't usually get too crazy about picking the perfect bottle&mdashbut some wines are better in recipes than others. So how do you know which are the best white wines for cooking?

As a general rule, go with a dry white wine unless your recipe says otherwise. You want the wine to add acidity&mdashnot sweetness. Super sweet wines like Moscato or sweet rieslings can caramelize too quickly when you're cooking, especially if you use them to deglaze a pan. It's also best to stay away from fuller-bodied wines like oaked Chardonnays&mdashthey can lend too strong a flavor to your food.

Don&rsquot feel like you need to spend too much on any wine that you use for cooking either. An inexpensive bottle is just fine. (Just make sure you get something you don't mind drinking so you can have a glass!) Check out our favorite picks&mdashthen try our Creamy Pasta Primavera, Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Shells, Instant Pot Chicken Cacciatore, or Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Soup.


Cream Sherry

When a recipe calls for sherry, it's typically referring to dry sherry specifically. But its syrupy sweet cousin, cream sherry, shines in different desserts like bread pudding, bundt cake, or caramel sauce. You can also add a touch of cream sherry to savory dishes, like mushroom soup or teriyaki chicken. Super smooth and surprisingly complex, Sandeman Armada Cream Cherry is ideal for any dessert.


How to Choose a Red Wine for Cooking

First, let&rsquos go over the basics.

Why cook with wine in the first place?

Wine doesn&rsquot only impart tons of flavor and richness to tomato sauce, pasta dishes and pan sauces, but its acidity is actually great for tenderizing meat. Similar to other acidic ingredients like lemon juice, vinegar and yogurt, wine breaks down the connective tissues in meat (aka collagen and muscle) and helps it to retain its juices.

Are red wine and white wine interchangeable?

Although both red wine and white wine tenderize and moisten, their flavor profiles generally fit different foods. So, just because red wine and white wine have similar effects on food doesn&rsquot mean you should use any old wine. So no, you can&rsquot substitute red wine in recipes that call for white&mdashwhite wines offer brightness, acidity and a light softness, while red wines are used for bold, hearty dishes that can withstand its bitter, intense flavors. Because red wine is more tannic than white, it turns bitter faster when cooked. That&rsquos why white wine is popular in seafood and chicken recipes, while red wine is key in roasts and meaty stews. Red wine can also be used in marinades and glazes. So, dry red wines with moderate tannins are safest to include in recipes. If you choose a wine that&rsquos too bitter and tannic, your food might turn out more or less inedible.

While red wine can break down big, fatty cuts of meat, it can also keep lighter proteins like fish super moist and impart great flavor. Here&rsquos an easy red wine style guide to stick to while you&rsquore shopping:


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This post originally appeared in the April 26, 2021 edition of The Move, a place for Eater’s editors to reveal their recommendations and pro dining tips — sometimes thoughtful, sometimes weird, but always someone’s go-to move. Subscribe now.

In the year I spent working at a wine shop in New York, there was probably one person per week who would come in and ask for a “cheap bottle of wine just for cooking with”: a white wine for steaming mussels, a red wine to poach some pears for dessert. Each time, though, I did my best to move them toward not just the cheapest, dump-it-down-the-drain-when-you’re-done bottle, but to something that both didn’t break the bank and that they’d also enjoy drinking. Because when a recipe calls for cilantro, we don’t go to the store and pluck the saddest-looking herbs in the bunch. So why are so many of us buying less-than-stellar bottles of wine when we need a little of it to cook with?

There’s only one basic rule when it comes to cooking with wine: Stick to the recipe’s suggested wine. If a recipe calls for dry white wine, don’t substitute with an off-dry if it calls for red, just use red. (Yes, you can substitute milk with lemon juice or vinegar for buttermilk, but that “just hack it” approach doesn’t really work here.) If the recipe calls for a wine you’re not familiar with, ask the person at the shop where it falls on an acidic scale, since something with higher acid will give you a bit more tartness similarly, sweet wine will make the final dish a touch sweet.

Once you nail down the style, cooking with higher-quality wine famously won’t make much of a difference in the end product. The flavors and aromas bursting from wine will pretty much cook off and get masked by the other ingredients, so it’s true that a pricey bottle won’t make the red wine glaze on the chocolate cake more delicious, or the wine-steamed mussels more inviting, in any memorable way. But we shouldn’t be thinking of buying a bottle for cooking as separate from a bottle we’d otherwise joyfully sip from don’t let wine as a recipe ingredient make you forget that wine is first and foremost to be drunk. Unless you don’t drink wine and the rest of the bottle would actually go to waste, this reasoning for buying cheap wine for cooking should just go out the window.

Instead, the best bet is to buy or choose a bottle of wine you actually like that fits into what the recipe calls for, use the quarter-cup needed to make that delicious braised brisket, and drink the rest of it while you’re cooking, while you’re eating, or over the next day or two with another dish — make sure to keep it corked and in the fridge if you go this last route. If you’re early in the process of discovering the wines you enjoy drinking, ask someone at your local wine shop what they might recommend based on your liking off-dry riesling or light-bodied reds, or that you loved a recent acid-charged bottle.

So unless you’re making several recipes in the span of three-ish days that call for enough wine to add up to one fully cooked-with, not-drunk bottle, stop buying shitty wine to cook with. Wine is to be chilled and sipped and enjoyed, no matter what its application.


What's the Best White Wine for Cooking?

When a recipe calls for "dry white wine," it's tempting to grab whatever open bottle is in the fridge, regardless of grape varietal. Are we doing our dishes a disservice? Sure, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc may taste different straight from the glass, but how much do those distinctive flavor profiles really come through once the wines get cooked down with other ingredients?

To find out, we tried three different varietals and a supermarket "cooking wine" in five recipes: braised fennel, risotto, a basic pan sauce, a beurre blanc, and chicken chasseur. In our tests, only Sauvignon Blanc consistently boiled down to a "clean" yet sufficiently acidic flavor—one that played nicely with the rest of the ingredients. Differences between the wines were most dramatic in gently flavored dishes, such as the risotto and beurre blanc.

But what's a cook without leftover Sauvignon Blanc to do? Is there a more convenient option than opening a fresh bottle? To find out, we ran the same cooking tests with sherry and vermouth, wines fortified with alcohol to increase their shelf life. Sherry was too distinct and didn't fare well in these tests, but vermouth performed well. In fact, its clean, bright flavor bested all but one of the drinking wines. And most bottles cost between $7 and $15, roughly what we spend on white wine for cooking.


Highly Recommended

Sauvignon Blanc: Crisp, clean, and bright, this wine was strong enough to share the spotlight with other ingredients but refused to steal the show.

Dry Vermouth: A pleasing sweet/tart balance made this fortified wine a close second. And, after being opened, it can be stored in the refrigerator for months.


Recommended with Reservations

Chardonnay: Most inexpensive Chardonnays are simply too oaky from barrel aging for most recipes. When cooked, "oaky" became bitter, not woody.

Riesling: This wine's fruity sweetness was out of place in most of the dishes. Buy a dry Riesling if you're planning on cooking with it.

Cooking Wine: The salt used to preserve inexpensive cooking wine makes it unpotable.

Sherry: _ _Complex sherry worked well with the robust flavors in chasseur, but its "earthy" notes dominated the simple beurre blanc and risotto.


Cooking with Wine

Wine has its place in delicate seafood dishes as well as robust meaty ones. Giada De Laurentiis' citrusy shrimp scampi stays extra moist and tender during cooking, thanks to juicy chopped tomatoes and a touch of dry white wine.

Beef Bourguignon

Add Burgundy or another dry red wine to this beef dish for an intense flavor. "Bourguignon" is French for "in the style of Burgundy," so red Burgundy (or Pinot Noir) is a traditional pairing.

Goat Cheese-and-Mushroom-Stuffed Chicken Breasts

For an impressive date-night dinner, saute chicken roll-ups until golden brown, then slice and top them with a rich mushroom-and-white wine sauce. To really complete the meal, serve the chicken with a glass of crisp Sauvignon Blanc.

Braised Italian Sausage Stew

Once the alcohol cooks off, the dry white wine used in this hearty stew leaves behind a mildly acidic flavor that cuts the intensity of the meaty sausage.

Fish en Papillote

When cooking halibut, you want the end result to be tender flakes of white fish, and white wine is crucial in achieving that end. Season the fish and vegetables with a wine-and-herb marinade before sealing it all in parchment. That way, the moisture will allow the fish to steam instead of roast in the oven.

Linguine with Red Clam Sauce

White wine, garlic, tomatoes and olive oil join forces to create a bright and zesty sauce for juicy steamed clams.

Crispy-Skin Arctic Char with Butter-Braised Cabbage

Dry white wine, apple cider vinegar and butter combine to create an aromatic and tangy braising sauce for hearty red cabbage. Pair it with crisp pan-fried arctic char for an easy and elegant meal.

Pork with Plum Sauce

The secret to transforming a ho-hum dinner is all in the sauce. Just let dry red wine, mint and orange zest come together with fresh plums in a pan over a little heat, swirl in a little butter, and slather the vibrant sauce over seared chops.

Braised Short Ribs

When you're looking for an impressive yet low-maintenance recipe, braised short ribs are a guaranteed success. Using a hearty red wine in the braising sauce imparts even more robust flavor to these intensely meaty, bone-in ribs.

Red Wine Pot Roast

Pot roast is a classic winter supper choice, and Ree's recipe is packed with flavor, thanks to an ample dose of red wine. For the best results, cook it low and slow: "If you cook the pot roast and it's too tough, it just hasn't cooked long enough," she says.

Gravy from Roast Drippings

Don't even think about wasting those meaty browned bits stuck to the bottom of your roasting pan. With some beef, chicken or vegetable stock on hand, plus red wine and herbs, you're just minutes away from a rich homemade gravy.

Steamed Clams and Kale

Steam littlenecks and Tuscan kale in a broth of dry white wine and tomato paste until the kale wilts and the clams' shells pop open to expose the sweet, tender meat inside.

Nancy Fuller's Beef Bourguignonne

Nancy reaches for Côtes du Rhône, another variety of dry red wine, when preparing her comforting take on the classic French beef stew.

Mussels in Curry Cream Sauce

For a creamier, spicier take on steamed clams, add some heavy cream and fragrant curry powder to the steam bath of dry white wine in your Dutch oven.

Red Wine Hot Fudge Sauce

Wine certainly has its place in savory, slow-cooked dishes, but it can do wonders for dessert as well. Let this rich hot fudge sauce made with semisweet chocolate and red wine stand as evidence. For the best results, go for something in the middle of the sweet-to-dry scale, like Pinot Noir.


The Ultimate Guide to Chinese Cooking Wines

Cooking wine plays a major role in Chinese cuisine, possibly coming second to soy sauce in importance. Theoritically, any wine, including wiskey, beer, distilled wine and rice wine, can be used as cooking wine, but Chinese rice wine, especially Shaoxing rice wine, is the best in the cooking world. Chinese cooking wine is used in two typical applications

  • Flavor correction: Cooking wine can not only mask the strong fishy smell and the gamey taste of meat and seafood, but also enhance the final flavors.
  • Cooking ingredient: Cooking wine is a key ingredient in recipes of drunken shrimp, pickled egg in rice wine, drunken chicken, chicken wing with beer, and more.

By default, cooking wine in the US market is treated with salt (1.5%) which acts as a preservative to inhibit the growth of microorganisms that produce acetic acid. By US law, cooking wine should be "Not for Sale or Consumption as Beverage Wine."

Chinese cooking wine in US groceries are all rice wine, made from fermeneted regular rice or glutinous rice, even though they may be labeled differently, such as Cooking Wine, Rice Cooking Wine, Rice Wine, Sweet/Glutinous Rice Cooking Wine, Shao HSing or Shao Shing or Shaoxing (Huadiao) (Rice) Cooking Wine, Miron, Cooking Spirit or without English name at all.

"Shao HSing", "Shao Shing" and "Shaoxing" means the same place Shaoxing in China. Correct name spelling in Chinese pinyin should be "Shaoxing" or "Shao Xing"

In general, mijiu is the generic Chinese name 米酒 for fermented rice wine. Its acual meaning is dependent on the context. It means either drinking rice wine that has alcohol range 12-50% ABV (alcohol by volume) or jiuniang (酒酿, 1.5-2.0% ABV) or laozao (醪糟) by Sichuanese which is a sweet, cotton-like fermented glutinous rice usually sold in refrigeration. Drinking mijiu made with red yeast is reddish in color and thus called huangjiu (yellow rice wine, 黄酒) interchangeably. Huangjiu, the redish mijiu, including Shaoxing wine, is perferred in East of China, while similar to Japanese sake, the clear white drinking mijiu is perferred in the other places, including Sichuan and Taiwan. In Sichuan, homemade drinking mijiu is locally called changjiu (常酒) which is drunken in warm or hot and tastes the same as Japanese sake. Changjiu used to be the main drink on home yard banquet (坝坝宴) in some places of Sichuan.

White Rice Wines

The clear white mijiu or white rice wine available in the US market majorly come from Southern China and Taiwan. It is used to mask the odor smell of meat and fish, but adds little or no extra flavor to the food.

Taiwanese Michiu

In Taiwan, white rice wine is labeled as Michiu or rice wine, but pronounced the same as mijiu in Chinese. Michiu has two types - regular Michiu which has about 20% ABV and Michiu Tou (米酒頭), a drier version of Michiu with about 34% ABV. The brands (first row in picture) distirbuted by SSC Internatioanl earns a great reputation in oversea Chinese communities, and particularly, the products (second and third bottles) with red labels (红标) are made by the governmental Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corp and are absolutely well known in Taiwan.

If you are interested in US-made Michiu only, The above Linchen cooking Michiu is made in California and available in most Asian stores in variety of sizes.

Cantonese Mijiu

White mijiu made in China and available in the United States is majorly Cantonese style mijiu as shown above. Pearl River Bridge is the most popular brand, especially for its double and triple distilled rice cooking wines (the second and third bottles on left).

Cantonese cooking traditionally uses Chinese rose wine (Mei Kueilu Chiew, 玫瑰露酒) for Cantonese-style roasting ducks and pork and making sausages which are sold at almost every large Asian supermarket in America. Chinese rose wine is a spirit distilled from fermented sorghum and infused with rose flowers, tasting like slightly sweetened vodka. It lends a very nice fragrant flavor to Hong Kong-style BBQ pork (叉烧) or char siu (char siew) in Cantonese . The most well-known rose cooking wine available in US Asian stores is the above Golden Star brand which has 54% ABV and 1.5% salt.

Sichuan-style high-heat, quick stir-frying cooking prefers to use very dry white called baijiu in Chinese (Chinese distilled spirit) instead of regular mijiu. Unfortunately, Chinese baijiu is not popularly available out of Asia. You may get one at local liquor stores in Chinatowns, such as Red Star Brand Erguodou (57% ABV) as shown above.

Sichuan paocai (pickled vegetables) normally uses baijiu to prevent mold growing on the surface of salty water brine, for which the ideal cooking wines should have no salt and no additional flavoring ingredients as well. Baijiu is the best to fit, otherwise, the following Pearl River Bridge double and triple distilled bottles are an alternative option which is available in most Asian grocery stores, but please pay attention that their caps have a golden color.

Japanese Sake

Tasting similar to Chinese white drinking mijiu, Japanese sake is a fermented rice wine. The following picture shows some popular, inexpensive sakes available in many US liquor stores. You may grab one into your kitchen cupboard for substitution of white rice cooking wine occasionally. For some recipes, however, sake (15% ABV) is not strong enough to substitute Michiu (20%, or 35% ABV).

Japanese Mirin

In simple, Japanese mirin is a sweet kind of Japanese sake, with a lower alcohol (0-15% ABV) and higher sugar content. As a sweet rice wine from fermented glutinous rice similar to Chinese jiuniang, mirin is a bit tart, with a hint of acid, and is also quite sweet. It is one of the holy trio of cupboard staples in Japanese cuisine, giving a rich flavor to fish and meat dishes, making sweet sauces such as teriyaki and yakitori, or softening strong flavored ingredients.

If you're going to make a mirin substitution with Japanese sake or Chinese white mijiu, you are recommend to add a little sugar to compensate the sweetness, keeping in mind that the added suga is a bit different from the sugar in actual mirin, which is produced during the fermentation process. The closest substitute is Chinese jiuniang.

Jiuniang, Fermented Sweet Rice

Jiuniang (酒酿) is also called laozao (醪糟) and may be translated as Rice Sauce or even Rice Wine (due to its alcohol content) . It consists of a mixture of partially digested rice grains floating in a sweet saccharified liquid, with small amounts of alcohol (1.5-2%) and lactic acid (0.5%). It is made by fermenting glutinous rice with a yeast starter called jiuqu (酒曲). If the fermentation goes longer, jiuniang will eventually produce rice wine or rice vinegar.

Jiuniang is widely used for soup desserts and for flavoring in Sichuan cooking as a sweetener. The following picture shows the availability in fridge section of US grocery stores. It is the best candidate to substitute Japanese mirin equivalently.

Michiu Shui

Michiu shui is marjorly originated in Taiwan, and becoming popular in China. It is also called yuezi water or rice wine-evaporated water, a substitute for water made from boiling off rice wine. Michiu shui has about 0.35% ABV and is used to replace water for cooking everything during the postpartum time. It warms the body and improves circulation which further strengthens healing, restoration and milk production. It is also believed to prolong women's aging due to baby delivery.

To make it at home, boil two bottles of rice wine down to one bottle as michiu shui. The best substitution is Chinese jiuniang, a fermented sweet rice.

Shaoxing Wines

Shaoxing wine is a type of huangjiu made from fermented glutinous rice and red yeast that originates from the region of Shaoxing in Zhejiang province of China. Shaoxing wine is amber-colored and has a unique flavor, balanced by the six tastes of sweet (glucose sugar),sour (organic lactic and succinic acids), bitter (peptides and tyrosol), pungent (alcohol and aldehydes), savory (amino acids) and astringent (lactate and tyrosine)

Shaoxing wine is directly used as an alcoholic drink, as cooking wine and as Chinese herbal wine. Shaoxing wine is the most widely used cooking wine in the world. Compared to white rice wine, Shaoxing wine imparts one more layer of unique pleasant flavors to the cook. Two varieties of Shaoxing wine available in US market are Shaoxing huadiao wine and Shaoxing cooking wine.

Shaoxing Huadiao Wine

Shaoxing Huadiao (花雕酒), also known as Nuerhong (女儿红), is an aged Shaoxing Jiafan wine (one type of Shaoxing wine by adding about 10% extra rice during fermentation process). It is evolved from the Shaoxing tradition of burying Shaoxing Jiafan wine underground when a daughter was born, and digging it up for the wedding banquet when the daughter was to be married. The containers were engraved with flowers (花雕). The Shaoxing Huadiao cooking wine is a huadiao rice wine with 1.5% salt added for US market, which may not be aged as long as regular huadiao rice wine.

Shaoxing Cooking Wine

Shaoxing cooking wine is made with 30-50% Shaoxing wine and various brand-dependent seasoning ingredients, such as cloves, star anise, cassia, black cardamom, Sichuan pepper, ginger, nutmeg and salt. Shaoxing cooking wine is at the same price level as Shaoxing huadia cooking wine except some aged versions.

Shaoxing Nuerhong Cooking Wine

Shaoxing nuerhong is fully aged Shaoxing huadiao wine and thus Shaoxing nuerhong based cooking wine is the high end Shaoxing cooking wine in the US market. In the above picture, the cooking wines are tuned for meat and seafood separately to get best results. Gold Plum premium matured nuerhong cooking rice wines are the main cooking wines of many Chinese restaurants in the United States. They have all natually brewed from a very clean ingredient list of water, glutinous rice, salt, and caramel.

Advanced Shaoxing Cooking Wine

If the above cheap Shaoxing huadiao cooking wine and Shaoxing cooking wine can not adapt to the recipes, the aged shaoxing cooking wine would be the advanced options. Because those cooking wines have no salt, you are able to taste the flavors before add to your dishes, and there is no need of calculating the extra salt added by cooking wine. The left first is a general Shaoxing huangjiu and the rest are all Shaoxing huadiao rice wine from well known brands.

Shaoxing Brands to Buy

Given the competition of Shaoxing cooking wines in the US market, the bottles which still stand on the grocery shelves as shown here are all fairly good. Pagoda (塔牌) and Guyue LongShan(古岳龙山) are well known in China. Taiwan-based SSC International (良) and HK-based Lam Sheng Kee (林生记) have good reputation in Asian-American communities. Gold Plum brand which also is the best in vinegar is the only one who offers Shaoxing Nuerhong based cooking wine for meat and fish separately. As a first-time user, you are recommended to start with Advanced Shaoxing cooking wine above such that you are able to taste it wihtout bothering by salt.

Fujian Cooking Wine

Fujian cooking wine is also called Fujian Laojiu or Fukien Old Wine where Fukien is an older spelling of Fujian. With few hundred years of history, Fujian cooking wine is one type of huagjiu made by fermenting glutinous rice with red rice yeast and a white yeast of over 60 Chinese medicinal herbs. It is dark brown in color, rich in flavor, and a little bit sweeter than Shaoxing huadiao wine. Many Chinese restuarants in the United States use it as their main cooking wine.

The three-years aged Qinghong (青红) below is well known in Fujian and is made as Fujian cooking wine. It has no salt and thus you can directly taste what it is.

Huangjiu-Based Cooking Wine

These chinese cooking wines are made with 30-50% huangjiu and various brand-dependent seasoning ingredients, such as cloves, star anise, cassia, black cardamom, Sichuan pepper, ginger, nutmeg and salt. Compared with Shaoxing cooking wine, these cooking wines provides different flavors and are alternative to Shaoxing cooking wines.

Special Cooking Wine

These cooking wines are made with huangjiu, soy sauce, vinegar, chili peppers and so on. They are more like seasioning sauces instead of cooking wines. The right four bottles in the image are best for braising meats.

Black Glutinous Rice Wine

The rice wine made of black glutinous rice or jasmine glutinous rice

Western Cooking Wine

The cooking wines are made from grape wines Burgundy, Sauterne, Chablis and Sherry. These cooking wines seem able to substitute Chinese cooking wines. In reality for a cook, none of them can substitute Chinese cooking wine in Chinese cooking.

Why Use Cooking Wine

Why do you cook with wine? What does it do to the food? What does it add to the taste?

Evaporation of Unpleasant Flavors

One main purpose of using Chinese cooking wine is to mask the strong fishy or gamey smell and taste of meat and seafood through alcohol evaporation during cooking. Alcohol has a much lower boiling point temperature (173° F / 78.5° C) than water (212° F / 100° C). Once the temperature is above 78.5° C, then the alcohol evaporates quickly, which reduces the vapor partial pressures of fishy/gamey components (mainly due trimethyl amine, hexahydro pyridine and valeraldehyde) in fish and meat and thus makes these volatile components easily evaporate from food. It is particularly true in Sichuan cooking that many quick stir-frying usually spray dry rice cooking wine at the highest heat point during cooking progress, such as stir-frying gizzard with green Thai peppers.

Add Flavors

As the name says, Chinese cooking wine is Chinese rice wine for cooking. In one side, Chinese rice wine is a product of fermented regular and glutinous rice that contains high levels of protein and amino acids. The unique fermentation process (especially of Shaoxing wine) let these nutrients add additional savory flavors to the food. In the other side, Shaoxing cooking wine has already blended expected cooking spices which can nicely impart the food flavors during cook

Bring out Flavors

In many recipes, the alcohol is an important component to achieve a desired chemical reaction in a dish. Alcohol causes many foods to release flavors that cannot be experienced without the interaction of alcohol. That is, the alcohol releases alcohol soluble flavors from foods (tomatoes, vanilla beans, and herbs are good examples) that you will never taste without it.

Animal fats (triglycerides) are partially hydrolyzed into glycerin and fatty acid after heating. The ethanol of alcohol then esterifies with fatty acid and form aromatic esters.

Protein Denaturation

Alcohol can denature proteins in food partially or entirely to make the food edible (drunken shrimp) or to improve the flavor of food (such as egg preserved in rice wine, pickled egg). Alcohol can also denature proteins of microbes to prevent the growth of bacteria, fungi or other new bad microbes.

Tips of Use Cooking Wine

  1. To mask the strong fishy or gamey smell and taste of meat and seafood, preliminary treatment of ingredient should include marinating with cooking wine, salt and ginger to build the basic flavor.
  2. As ethanol of alcohol is very volatile, cooking wine should be added at the highest temperature point during cooking, such as spaying cooking wine into quick stir fry during cooking.
  3. When the flavor of cooking wine itself has to reserve in the final cook, cooking wine should be added after the main ingredients are well cooked to avoid alcohol evaporation
  4. For soups, cooking wine should be added when the soup is boiling to evaporate odors with the alcohol.

Cooking high protein content, such as fish paste or ground shrimp, cooking wine should be avoided because alcohol is fat soluble and thus may denature the proteins and make ingredients loose stickiness.

Any misuse or abuse of cooking wine can ruin the flavors of the final cook. Soups and light flavor dishes should not use cooking wine in general. When marinating, too much cooking wine may mask the main flavors.

When using dry cooking wine to marinate strong smell fish and lamb, marinating time cannot be too long and should wash the ingredient with clean waster in timely manner to avoid alcoholic aflavor remaining in final dish.

How much cooking wine to use is dependent on the cook. The key crieria is that the cooking wine has enough time to burn off its alcohol such that the alcoholic taste does not remain in the final dish if it is not expected. See the alcohol burn off chart to determine the amount of cooking wine.

Chinese cooking wine can be used interchangably, but should not be substituted with grape wine. Otherwise, the taste may be completely different.

Alcohol Burn Off Chart

Alcohol can be found as an ingredient in many recipes. It can be added as an ingredient to add specific flavors or it can be part of an ingredient, such as extracts. Many cookbooks and cooks tell the consumer that the &ldquoalcohol will have burned of," however the process is more complicated than this simple statement implies. Alcohol does boil at a lower temperature than water - 86 degrees centigrade vs. 100 degrees C. for water, though one may have to boil a beer for 30 minutes to get it down to the NA or nonalcoholic category, which by law means it contains less than .5 percent alcohol.

Even if the alcohol in food is likely to be cooked off, for some people having just a tiny bit of alcohol or the taste of alcohol may be enough to act as a powerful cue. Similar to blowing smoke at a former smoker, using alcohol in cooking should be carefully thought out and guests should be informed as it could do a great disservice to arecovering alcoholic.

The following table of alcohol remaining after food preparation is from USDA Table of Nutrient Retention Factors, Dec 2007.

Important:The fact that some of the alcohol remains could be of significant concern to recovering alcoholics, parents, and others who have ethical or religious reasons for avoiding alcohol.


The 65 Best Grilling Wines for End of Summer

So you think grilling season is over? Think again. Not only is it still more than warm enough to argue that summer isn’t even over – but as far as I am concerned, GRILLING season is never over. So even if you live in a cold climate – stop complaining, wear a vest or something, and keep your coals glowing year-round.

But what to drink with your grilling masterpieces? Well, depends on what you’re cooking of course, but we’ve spent the better part of this summer drinking our way through some serious amounts of red wine – and we’ve come up with a list of what we think are the 65 best red wines for grilling out there. From crisp and light to ultra-heavy, from Europe to Napa, from Pinot to Cab – all these wines are both excellent on their own, as well as paired with your favorite grilled foods.

So buckle up, and get ready to salivate for some amazing wines. Can’t choose? Don’t worry, just close your eyes and point. Any of the 65 wines are awesome, and you can read more about each of them – in the words of their respective winemaker.

Justin Savant 2017 – $50
Winemaker’s Notes: Rich, with full ripe black fruit, spice and smoky meaty elements, it’s a wine that lovers of bold wines will love, while still being classy enough to display exquisite table manners, pairing well with a wide variety of food.

Cakebread Two Creeks Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley – $43
Winemaker’s Notes: An attractive raspberry-crimson color leads to sweet black cherry, raspberry, dried rose petal and violet blossom aromas. Fresh raspberry and bright strawberry flavors are concentrated, yet balanced, in this pretty, floral wine. The finish is smooth, with silky tannins, mineral notes and lingering fresh fruit.

WillaKenzie Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2017 – $30
Winemaker’s Notes: A blend of fruit from the WillaKenzie and Jory Hills vineyards, this wine is a classic expression of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. This effortless yet weighty wine glides across the palate with notes of red and black fruit.

La Crema Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2017 – $40
Winemaker’s Notes: Aromas of black plum, fresh raspberries, and forest floor are complemented by flavors of bing cherry and sassafras with hints of baking spice. On the palate, the 2017 vintage exudes rich concentration and integrated acidity.

Padrillos Pinot Noir 2018 – $16
Houston Wines Notes: A shockingly good value Pinot, with cherry notes in the nose, and classic Pinot character. This is an outstanding choice for leaner grilled meats, and will drink well on its own as a cocktail wine.

Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre Carmenere 2016 – $21
Winemaker’s Notes: Color: Intense purple red. Nose: Complex, with red and black fruit such as maqui berry, ripoe plums, blackberry and spices. Palate: Elegant, of medium acidity and round tannins with chocolate and tobacco and fruit such as ripe plums and sarsaparilla. Medium long finish.

Bouchard Père et Fils Premier Cru Beaune du Château Rouge 2015 – $49
Winemaker’s Notes: Nice dark garnet color with brown to mauve shades. Complex bouquet associating perfumes of jammy red fruit, fig, peony with a hint of chocolate. Harmonious and deep palate, with a beautiful maturity and dense but fine tannins. An attractive wine.

Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot 2017 – $56
Winemaker’s Notes: A classic expression of Napa Valley Merlot, this wine offers alluring aromas of lush cherry, raspberry, cocoa and freshly baked pie crust. The cherry and raspberry notes are echoed on the silky palate, where fine-grained tannins and flavors of ripe plum, blueberry, licorice and subtle baking spice draw the wine to a long, elegant finish.

Enriquez Wines Tempranillo 2013 – $44
Winemaker’s Notes: Tempranillo is a pretty easy wine to pair with food thanks to its strong earthy and savory notes. The wine is particularly good when paired with grilled meats and vegetables, as well as smoked foods. When you think about traditional Spanish cooking, you may not think of grilling. Yet, cooking on a parilla, a grate or grill a la brasa, over hot coals, or on a plancha, a metal hot plate set over coals, are all traditional cooking methods in Spain.

La Jota Merlot 2016 – $80
Winemaker’s Notes: The 2016 La Jota Merlot encompasses all that is Mountain Merlot with a structure to relish. Notes of espresso, dark chocolate, and toast follow ripe blackberry, minerality, and weight on the palate.

Meadowcroft Anniversary Cuvée Red Blend 2014 – $52
Winemaker’s Notes: Aromas of dark berries and sun-ripen plums showcase this full bodied wine. Complex layers of subtle Porcini mushrooms and soft black pepper spice complement the notes of ripe raspberry. Smooth integrated tannins lead to pleasant acidity on the mid-palate and long smooth finish.

Domaine de la Riviere Middle Reach Vineyards 2017 Pinot Noir
Winemaker’s Notes: The 2017 Middle Reach Vineyards is a perfect balance of full-body strength and elegance in each glass. The aromatics are bursting with vanilla, toasted marshmallow, and baking spices, which are strongly complemented by dark cherry, blackberry, and dark plum. Balanced acidity supports a long silky finish.

Trinchero BRV Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon – $83
Winemaker’s Notes: Presents licorice, plum, and hints of cigar box on the nose, followed by abundant flavors of blueberry, blackberry, and violet. This wine reflects the intensity of its mountain origins and will age beautifully, with firm tannins and powerful structure.

Ziata Mia Madre Red 2016 – $100
Winemaker’s Notes: The 2016 Mia Madre Red Blend boasts a vibrant bouquet of ripe plum and blueberry, dried lavender, dark chocolate, toasted cardamom, and other exotic spices. With a seductive entry and rich mid-palate weight, layers of unctuous black fruits are enveloped by sweet yet structured tannins. This wine is drinking beautifully in its youth but will age gracefully for 10-15 years.

Merry Edwards Pinot Noir 2018 – $55
Winemaker’s Notes: This brilliant, burgundy-hued wine immediately offers up fragrances of mixed berries, Bing cherry, cola, candied violets, and black tea along with exotic spices and dried herbs. On the palate, there is a compelling mix of broad tannins and minerality, along with a seductive measure of smoky oak balanced with juicy acidity. Black plum, brambleberry, cassis, and wet slate create a layered and lingering finish.

Davis Family Vineyards Pinot Noir 2017 – $55
Winemaker’s Notes: Rich, balanced, and elegant, with beautiful red and dark fruit flavor, this blend is a perfect embodiment of all that the Russian River Valley has to offer in one deeply layered, complex wine. Each vintage this wine displays the signature flavors of the Russian River appellation as well as the signature of that year’s growing season.

Michele Chiarlo Cipressi Nizza 2016 – $25
Winemaker’s Notes: Surprising for its clarity and elegance, red fruit, mature cherry, raspberry, and the sweet notes of tobacco. Taste is complex, structured and impresses for its fresh softness and roundness pleasing savory finish.

The Seeker Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 – $15
Winemaker’s Notes: Aromas of black fruit and vanilla, loaded with flavors of ripe and juicy black fruit, combined with creamy tannins. Beautiful structure and texture framed with touches of chocolate and toffee from the oak aging. The wine will continue to develop and improve for up to five years.

Bodega Norton Reserva Malbec 2018 – $16
Winemaker’s Notes: Intense red color with purplish hues. In the nose, it is an expressive wine with ripe black fruits, violets, spices and tobacco. In the mouth, it is wide and fleshy with a lingering finish.

Trinchero Mario’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 – $49
Winemaker’s Notes: The 2015 Mario’s Cabernet Sauvignon has a pretty ruby red color. The aromatics are big and elegant with plenty of briary red fruits, red raspberry, dried pomegranates and red cherry. There are also some floral elements like cherry blossoms. The tannins are soft, approachable and fuzzy like the skin of a peach. Lots of red fruit back up the wine with subtle hints of caramel, vanilla and brioche. The finish is long but not overwhelming. The tannins dance on your tongue finishing with a sweet, ripe, silky texture.

Napa Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 – $29
Winemaker’s Notes: This wine’s lush core of bright blackberry, dark cherry and graphite are complemented by expressive earthy and toffee notes on the mid-palate. The finish is full of well rounded fine-grained tannins and fresh, balanced acidity making this Cabernet the perfect pairing for port-braised beef short ribs topped with mint leaves.

Taken Red Wine 2017 – $35
Winemaker’s Notes: Bright, vibrant ruby red in color, this opulent, approachable blend showcases a silky palate with fruit-forward flavors. This wine has a medium body full of maraschino cherry, sweet currant and crushed violets leading to a soft, silky, lingering finish.

Bravium Pinot Noir 2017 – $32
Winemaker’s Notes: From the far reaches of Mendocino, this powerful wine is laden with varietally correct black cherry aromas and flavors. Ruby red color with aromas of lavender, wild berry, woodsmoke, damp soil, and the aforementioned black cherry. A soft, juicy entry delivers intense berry patch flavors, with caramel and forest floor hints. Sappy and savory whole cluster-derived notes, with medium acidity. Fine-grained tannins join spice notes on the creamy, beautifully layered mid-palate. This balanced
Pinot Noir has a great core of red fruit, stellar focus, just enough grip, and a complex finish.

Domaine Chanson Pinot Noir Le Bourgogne 2018 – $19
Winemaker’s Notes: Dark ruby color with purple nuances. Intense aromas of ripe black currant mixed with spices and licorice. Crunchy and generous. Complex and deep texture. Well-crafted tannins. Long and fruity aftertaste. Super “everyday” Burgundy, ideal with braised and roasted meats, as well as meat-sauced pasta.

Paul Hobbs CrossBarn Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 – $45
Winemaker’s Notes: Capturing the diversity and complexity from the region, the 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon displays a dark ruby hue with aromas of crushed violets, graphite, and blueberry. A burst of licorice and boysenberry are revealed on the palate carried along by bright savory spices and mineral notes that persist throughout. Polished tannins kick in giving the wine a soft texture along with a lively acidity that gives the wine a clean, extended finish.

Chateau L’Evangile Pomerol 2014 – $85
Winemaker’s Notes: Deep, dark color with hints of violet. Very intense nose with dark berries (Morello cherries, blackcurrants) and fresh notes of mocha and toast. On the palate, the attack is powerful, dense, and structured. The mid-palate is silky, with a powerful, balanced tannic structure. The finish is dense and very velvety, thanks to the coated, well-ripened tannins: an excellent vintage.

Galerie Latro Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 – $49
Winemaker’s Notes: Latro takes its name from the Latin word for “hunter,” a reference to Knights Valley’s history as a private hunting reserve before the development of vineyards in the area. Hard, inhospitable mountain soils restrict root development, which creates smaller berries and lower yields that bring distinctively mineral notes to this 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon. The darkly handsome result is a charismatic and versatile wine with instant, irresistible appeal.

Rodney Strong Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 – $28
Winemaker’s Notes: A powerful Cabernet Sauvignon from the hillsides of Alexander Valley has aromas of lush, red plum and dark berries that dominate the glass, while hints of cassis and milk chocolate play in the background. The dried fig and chewy tannins give this wine a strong backbone, while the 18 months of barrel aging have softened this bold wine just enough to enjoy now or with a cheese and charcuterie board, filet mignon with grilled vegetables or a dark chocolate mousse. Drink over the next five to seven years.

Seghesio Home Ranch Zinfandel 2017 – $60
Winemaker’s Notes: Notes of shaved dark chocolate, brambly black fruit, and baked graham cracker on the nose give way to a powerful wine with great intensity and supple tannin. A muscular mid-palate provides structure and frames flavors of ripe blackberries and freshly grated nutmeg that linger on the palate with the wine’s long and elegant finish.

Kamen Writer’s Block Blend 2017 – $67
Winemaker’s Notes: Super fragrant, pure, defined, and powerful. Aromas of ripe blackberries, black raspberries, wild plums, strawberries & cream, and freshly cut hay wind through the glass. Hints of black pepper, roasted almonds, nutmeg, dried desert brush, and minerality add complexity to this luscious wine. Intensely flavored, youthfully exuberant, and seriously layered. Drink now and over the next 8-10 years.

Dutton-Goldfield Cherry Ridge Vineyard Syrah Dutton Ranch 2015 – $49
Winemaker’s Notes: The reduced crop in 2015 yielded extremely concentrated, rich wines, which is foretold by the enticing vivid ruby color of the wine in the glass. The initial aromas of cedar, leather, and thyme are joined by boysenberry and cherry after time in the glass. White pepper spice plays its familiar supporting role around the edges of the fruit. In the mouth, gorgeous dark plum compote and black cherry pie flavors carry cinnamon and nutmeg notes on plush but assertive tannins. A lively finish of black raspberry and sandalwood cap off the experience.

Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 – $45
Winemaker’s Notes: The 2017 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is a densely layered wine showcasing plush notes of cherry cobbler and wild blackberries backed by hints of cedar and fresh herbs. Full-bodied and elegant, this Cabernet has a polished mouthfeel and an exceptionally long finish.

FEL Pinot Noir 2018 – $38
Winemaker’s Note: The aromatics are dominated by dark flavors of Earl Grey tea, cassis, black licorice, and ganache. Hints of Spanish Cedar and cloves add further spice, while black cherry, the signature fruit of Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, provides the backbone. In the mouth, layers of spice and fruit continue with flavors of blood orange, pomegranate, persimmon, and more black cherry mingle with notes of black tea, dark chocolate, and anis. The bright acid and silky tannins give the wine a fresh vibrancy.

Rombauer Vineyards Zinfandel 2018 – $35
Winemaker’s Notes: This classic California Zinfandel is purple-ruby, with a bright crimson hue. On the nose, concentrated aromas of ripe blackberry and boysenberry meld with black tea, vanilla, and spice. Lush flavors of fig, blackberry jam, licorice, and vanilla flood the palate, followed by touches of dark chocolate and white pepper in the background. Subtle and round tannins and great length make for a fresh and enticing finish.

Siduri Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2018 – $40
Winemaker’s Notes: The key to this Russian River Valley Pinot Noir is the diversity of its sources. This sounds odd, given that the wine comes entirely from within the Russian River Valley AVA, but this region is large and possesses a myriad of soils, exposures, and unique terroirs that together produce a superb representation of the whole of the Russian River Valley. This 2018 offering showcases this area
in all its complexity while also making for a wine that is eminently drinkable upon release.

Hartford Wines Hartford Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel 2018 – $40
Winemaker’s Notes: The 2018 Hartford Russian River Valley Zinfandel is showing aromas of ripe plum, blackberry, black cherry which are highlighted with hints of white pepper and allspice. Blueberry, red raspberry, nutmeg and mocha flavors lead into a long, bright finish with supple tannins.

Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 – $36
Winemaker’s Notes: This Cabernet is set each vintage as a Bordeaux blend, with soft and silky tannins and a plush, full mouth-feel setting it up for immediate enjoyment, although it’s built to age and develop further complexity. Aromas of dried herbs, cedar, clove, and lavender join flavors of dark red fruit led by figs, black cherry, currants, boysenberry, huckleberry, raspberry, and evident oak spice are joined with more traditional Knights Valley tones of black olive, wild sage, and mocha chocolate. Fine acidity and balance with an elegant structure leading to a lingering, memorable finish.

Beaulieu Vineyard Tapestry Reserve Red Blend 2016 – $65
Winemaker’s Notes: The 2016 Tapestry is a powerful expression of the dream vintage, showing the true artistry of blending five Bordeaux-heritage grape varieties grown within the Napa Valley, which together contribute multi-layered flavors and complexity. The Cabernet Sauvignon imparts a generous core of brambly blackberry, cassis, and macerated blueberry, while the Merlot brings a vibrant, riper dark cherry fruit character. The Merlot also softens the tannins and adds plush rich texture on the mouth pleasing palate. Malbec contributed dark plum and briary blackberry notes, while the Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot completed the blend with delicate floral nuances of violet and wild sage. Well-integrated warm baking spice notes of cinnamon and clove also pique the senses incorporated from having been aged in new French oak barrels – which heighten the overall aromatic expression and linger on the finish. The tannins provide intensity, structure, and depth, ensuring this vintage will outlast many others with significant age-worthiness. This is a wine that is the perfect bridge between old and new world – showing the restraint, elegance, and sophistication of Napa Valley.

Tenuta di Arceno Chianti Classico Riserva 2017 – $27
Winemaker’s Notes: Legendary small yields for the 2017 vintage produced intense, concentrated, and powerful wines with vibrant acidity, despite such a warm year. The aromas are dominated by ripe raspberry fruit and candied apples, followed by floral notes and nutmeg. The powerful nose gives way to an elegant balance of expressive fruit. The palate follows with tart cherry pie, red licorice, and sweet tobacco. A long finish shows hints of cedar and cypress. It will be extraordinary to experience this wine’s evolution in the cellar and it is expected to age gracefully.

Château de Poncié Le Pré Roi Fleurie 2016 – $26
Winemaker’s Notes: Situated on the knoll of Poncié and the hill of Montgenas, terroir on slopes of crystalline rock, at the same time dry and demanding, combines the conditions needed for rediscovering the historic qualities that made Fleurie’s reputation. Gamay, black varietal with white juice. Bright brilliant color, reflecting garnet and violet nuances. Bouquet, fine and elegant with notes of cherry and blueberry. Palate, extremely expressive, with a freshness highlighting the balance between structure and aromatic richness.

J. Rochioli Estate Grown Pinot Noir 2018 – $64
Winemaker’s Notes: This Estate is a precise blend of many different single vineyard sites. Forty percent Sweetwater, thirty-nine percent Little Hill, twelve percent Big Hill, six percent West Block, and three percent East Block. This full-bodied wine is complex and rich with the typical Rochioli character and the Classic Russian River Valley charm. Aged in French oak for 15 months, the wine displays a full body and silky texture finish, with a balanced structure. 2926 cases were produced.

Reynoso Family Vineyards Red Blend 2017 – $29
Winemaker’s Note: The initial aromatics are dense and vibrant showing blackberry, boysenberry, graphite, and cassis. Notes of cedar box and black raspberry are punctuated by chocolate-covered strawberry and a finish ripe dragon fruit on the finish.

Cuvainson Estate Grown Pinot Noir 2017 – $42
Winemaker’s Notes: Rose petals, hawthorn, wild strawberry, and plum mingle with hints of cola, black tea, and licorice. On the palate, dark fruits of blackberry and black cherry take the lead, with lovely jam notes, a notion of sassafras, and a long, supple, velvety finish.

Landmark Vineyards Rayhill Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017 – $56
Winemaker’s Notes: Medium ruby with aromas of black cherry and cola, strawberry compote, fragrant violets, and cinnamon. The palate is medium to full-bodied and displays rich strawberry, Bing cherry, and ripe summer raspberries with a long savory finish of earl grey tea, cedar and brown mushrooms. The bright acidity, ripe fruit, and savory finish make for an extremely rich, complex, and muscular Pinot Noir.

Hickinbotham Brooks Road Shiraz 2017 – $83
Winemaker’s Notes: 2017 was a cooler year in McLaren Vale. The carryover from the 2016 rains into a perfect spring and then a cooler ripening season led to good fruit character for Shiraz and Grenache expressing in an elegant and lively style. The 2017 Shiraz has an elegant and balanced form, with round blackberry and black pepper notes on a lithe and supple frame.

Justin Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 – $27
Winemaker’s Notes: Dry, moderate plus bodied, with ripe blackcurrant, black cherry, and a touch of red fruit brightness on the entry. Balanced oak, vanilla spice and brioche notes mixed with classic savory cabernet varietal cues mingle on the mid-palate. The finish is moderately long and fresh with sustained rounded fruit and lingering baking spice balanced nicely by firm, smooth tannins. This is a perfect go-to red that’s great with a variety of pairings from pasta Bolognese to Wagyu burgers, or try it with a variety of freshly baked wood-fired pizzas. Its versatility is amazing.

Domaine Anderson Pinot Noir 2017 – $39
Winemaker’s Notes: Color is a beautiful dark translucent garnet red. Bramble, blackberry, and rose petal aromas are complemented with flavors of black cherry and currant. A firm structure with graceful tannins provides the frame for this well-built wine. Umami and salt hints balance the fresh tartness feel of the wine, lingering long on the palate.

Root & Rubble Pinot Noir 2018 – $39
Winemaker’s Notes: The 2018 Root & Rubble Pinot Noir is sourced from the Barbieri Vineyard in Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley. Typically used for blending, clone 828 was selected for its thicker skins and strong tannin presence, allowing the wine to stand on its own without leaning on oak for support as this wine is 100% fermented and aged in concrete. The result is a soft and elegant, red-fruited Pinot Noir with hints of candied rose, white pepper, and a subtle earthiness. The palate offers intense raspberry and spice, finishing with a trace of silky tannins.

1849 Wine Company Triumph 2017 – $44
Winemaker’s Notes: Fruit-forward on the palate – you’ll taste raspberry and blackberry jam at the front, dark red fruits like plum and cherry through the mid-palate, and hints of chocolate long through the finish. This wine is harmonious, fleshy with excellent depth and complexity | Finish: The finish of the Sonoma County Red Blend is long with a round, supple & lush mouthfeel. This wine has backbone, great body, and is robust, complex, and velvety.

A Rosé Cocktail Inspired by the Warm Glows of Summer

1849 Wine Company Anonymous 2015 – $30
Winemaker’s Notes: On the front, this is a fruit-forward wine. As the wine moves to the mid-palate the flavors of black cherry, cassis and ripe blackberry are distinctly present creating a pleasantly complex combination of ripe fresh fruits with just a faint hint of barrel oak. The sip finishes with a mild lingering but refreshing sweetness. The finish of the Napa Valley Red Blend is long with a round, supple & lush mouthfeel. The finish is lively & hearty with a rich, complex, and velvety finish.

Duck Hunter Pinot Noir 2019 – $27
Winemaker’s Notes: Aromatics of ripe cherry, dark roasted nuts, and hints of oak/tobacco. Smooth powdery tannins, strawberry/cranberry flavors mingle with fresh herb accents. A lingering savory finish.

Sosie Wines Stagecoach Vineyard Block K5 Cabernet Franc 2015 – $80
Winemaker’s Notes: This wine leaps out of the glass with aromas of dried herbs, jalapenos, peppercorn, and graphite. But that’s not what you taste. Instead, your tongue registers black cherries, plums, dates, and cocoa powder. The body is medium to full with luxurious if dusty, tannins, and, as with all Sosie wines, well-integrated oak. The wine finishes with anise and dried fruit. For maximum effect, decant two hours before serving. Then stand back.

Sojourn Rodgers Creek Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018 – $48
Winemaker’s Notes: At first sip, the wine really speaks to Pinot noir enthusiasts with its compelling and complex aromas. Expressive red fruit and notes of earth and mushroom shine through with intensity, thanks to the combination of unique soils and dominance of the Pommard clone. This 2018 vintage wine, aided by 20% whole cluster fermentation, offers rich, silky tannins, smooth structure, and impeccable balance.

Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2011 – $58
Winemaker’s Notes: In a couple of words, voluminous and powerful. A sensory stratification of layers of taste – separated via time-of-detection and
unraveling of flavors. At first, Christmas pudding with roasted nuts, then rare
lamb and black olives, then sarsaparilla spice. Tannins awashed, oak absorbed, fruit awakened.

Chateau Montelena Zinfandel 2015 – $37
Winemaker’s Notes: The energetic nature of the palate perfectly reflects the complexity of the growing season as bright acid contrasts black pepper, which yields plenty of ripe raspberries and cherry candy. This, in turn, transitions to fresh mint and abundant spicy cloves.

Gary Farrell Russian River Selection Pinot Noir 2017 – $45
Winemaker’s Notes: This elegant Pinot Noir opens with alluring aromas of Bing cherry, pomegranate, boysenberry syrup and preserved raspberries. Flavors of Cremini mushrooms and cherry cola with hints of white pepper and clove unfold on the palate. The supple tannins develop into a soft, silky finish complimented with abundant acidity on the finish.

Bricoleur Pinot Noir 2017 – $45
Winemaker’s Notes: This vintage is made from 100% estate-grown Pinot Noir
that is sustainably farmed in the Russian River Valley Appellation. Medium ruby in color. Aromas of cranberry, deep raspberry and Santa Rosa plum are woven with top-notes of anise and coastal redwood spice. The palate is perfectly balanced with flavors of cherry and peach pith, broad tannins, and textures of stone fruit flesh, complimenting the bright acidity that leads into a long, fresh finish.

Navarro Vineyards Pinot Noir 2018 – $37
Winemaker’s Notes: The French credit soil types for the primary difference between a Burgundian Grand cru—the top rating—and a lesser Première cru, causing many to consider soil as the sole element defining terroir. Fortunately for California, other environmental factors—like climate, the health of the vines, or the skill of the vineyardist and winemaker—have a much greater effect on wine quality than soil alone. Navarro produces over 40 vineyard lots of Pinot Noir each harvest and we sold off over 5,000 gallons of bulk 2018 Pinot wine, leaving only our best lots to blend. After selecting the wine for our Deep End and Méthode à l’Ancienne bottlings, there were 17 partial vineyard lots—the source of some of the wine included in our most expensive bottlings—that provided first-class wine for this less expensive bottling. The blend of fruit from our hillside and valley floor vineyards reflects Anderson Valley’s terroir in the crisp acidity and cherry-like flavors.

Patz & Hall Chenoweth Ranch Pinot Noir 2016 – $59
Winemaker’s Notes: One of the juiciest and richest wines in the Patz & Hall single-vineyard lineup. Cedar shavings, cassis, and pomegranate juice vie with cinnamon-clove shadings as the powerful, heady aromas zoom from the glass. Fruits and spice cascade into layers of complexity.

Cliff Lede Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 – $75
Winemaker’s Notes: The 2017 Stags Leap Cabernet is darkly ruby/purple-colored and possesses vibrant aromas of violets, lavender, blackberry, huckleberry, black licorice, and warm chocolate covered cherries. Juicy, penetrating, and conveying terrific depth, this gorgeously flavored wine possesses layers of blood orange, cardamom, cocoa powder, and slate. The long opulent finish continues on with notes of minerals, loam, and cassis, whilst the supple tannins go on supporting the well-framed structure.

Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 – $80
Winemaker’s Notes: The 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon has expressive blueberry, boysenberry, and baking spice aromatics. A fresh and inviting wine with unfolding layers of juicy raspberry and red cherry, nutmeg, cedar and graphite with a medium-full body, seamlessly integrated tannins, and a lengthy finish.

Knights Bridge KB Red Blend 2016 – $50
Winemaker’s Notes: The KB Estate blend is an alluring mix of wild black and red fruit aromas surrounded by warm cinnamon and clove. The sweet floral and savory herbal notes are reminiscent of walking through a forest in springtime. It is the perfect wine for those in search of a deep, satisfying red that still has lots of personality. Barrel aging for a full 24 months helps achieve an ideal harmony between all components: Petit Verdot, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The soft tannins make this wine approachable now and the perfect match with bold foods.

Stuhlmuller Vineyards Cooper Block Starr Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017 – $62
Winemaker’s Notes: This silky and sophisticated Pinot Noir displays exotic aromas of savory spice, forest floor, rose petals, truffles, and wild strawberry. On the palate, hints of moist earth and dried herbs add nuance and intrigue to the red berry flavors, with lovely natural acidity bringing a vibrant freshness to the long, thought-provoking finish. To enhance its natural complexity and rustic charm, this wine was fermented entirely as whole clusters. Punch downs were done infrequently, and gently by hand. A basket press was used, and the free-run wine was drained into a combination of one- and two-year-old French oak barrels and puncheons, and aged for 15 months.

Alma Rosa Donnachadh Syrah 2017 – $68
Winemaker’s Notes: The 2017 Syrah is an eye-catching, deep ruby red with elegant notes of violets and red fruits. Showing the intense structure of Sta. Rita Hills Syrah, the 2017 Donnachadh Syrah opens to reveal a panoply of savory and black-fruited aromas and flavors. Wild aromas of bay laurel, green peppercorn, and espresso roast are supported by black fruits and plum nuances. The wine finishes with velvety, smooth tannins, and will pair perfectly with roast lamb, duck, and cheese.

The Paring Syrah 2017 – $25
Winemaker’s Notes: Classic Syrah aromas of violets, blackberries, and cracked black pepper. Perfect balance between dark fruit sweetness and savory earthiness. Plush and soft then structured and powerful, but refined enough to enjoy today. All that makes Syrah such a legendary grape.

Ernest Vineyards Edaphos Grenache 2018 – $38
Winemaker’s Notes: Light, bright burgundy color packs aromas of dried cherries, pomegranate seeds, and dusty red roses. A vibrant palate with charming fruit, well -balanced tannins, mélange of dried and fresh red fruits, refreshing acidity and pronounced earthiness. Partial carbonic maceration on the stems and without sulfur. The 2018 spent nearly a month on the skins and was lightly pressed in a basket press. Most of the wine was aged in concrete Amphora for a long malolactic fermentation with a small amount going into neutral puncheon. Aged 10 months.

Mark Herold Uproar Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 – $75
Winemaker’s Notes: The 2016 Uproar is an explosion of aromatics! Ripe blackberry, boysenberry, pencil lead, dark chocolate, and crème de cassis. Subtle hints of freshly milled suede, black cardamom, and dried wildflowers follow. The palate is filled with full-throttle berry flavors and fine-tuned tannins leading to a finish that keeps on giving. Opulent, savory, and seamless this wine is an amazing expression of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Crafted to enjoy now or cellar over the next 15 years.

Bella Union Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 – $80
Winemaker’s Notes: The 2017 Bella Union is filled with luscious aromas of cherry cola, anise, and baking spices. Tension is exhibited on the palate as this wine is both fruit-forward and restrained. Black cherry, blueberry, and other briary fruit flavors guide the wine’s bright midpalate, finishing with hints of cocoa and resolved tannins.

B.R. Cohn Pinot Noir 2017 – $48
Winemaker’s Notes: A good balance of aromas of tobacco, raspberry, and black plum makes it easy to sip and enjoy this delicious Pinot Noir. On the nose, layers of blueberry, blackberry, and cherry with a sense of exotic spice and toast. Fine tannins and balanced acidity drive a long finish.

Foxen Williamson-Doré Vineyard Syrah 2016 – $48
Wine Advocate: Medium to deep ruby-purple, the 2016 Syrah Williamson-Doré Vineyard has a dense nose of wild blackberries, blueberries, boysenberry, black cherries, olive, charcuterie, bitter chocolate, and a coffee hint. Medium to full-bodied, it packs in the dark fruits in the mouth with savory accents to frame, firm, chewy tannins, and good freshness on the finish.

Acumen Mountainside Red 2018 – $45
Winemaker’s Notes: This full-bodied wine starts with fragrant aromas of ripe blackberries, potpourri, freshly turned earth, and Chambord. On the palate, we find mouth-coating flavors of blueberries, Santa Rosa plums, and baking spices with a pleasant grip of ripe tannins coupled with notes of toffee, rhubarb compote, fresh sage and cigar box on the long and pleasant finish.

Paraduxx Proprietary Red 2017 – $39
Winemaker’s Notes: Rich, luxurious and complex, this wine begins with alluring aromas of ripe cherry, red currant, cranberry and blueberry, along with sophisticated notes of sandalwood, clove, anise and black tea. On the palate, smooth, silky tannins underscore the lush black cherry and currant flavors, with hints of chocolate, spice and cracked pepper adding depth and nuance to the long, flowing finish.

Turnbull Bonne Vivante Blend 2016 – $75
Winemaker’s Notes: For any summer barbeque or relaxed evening on the deck, our 2016 Bonne Vivante (and favorite summer red) is here and ready for you to enjoy. Syrah, Malbec, and Lagrein come together in an unprecedented combination for this annual winemaker’s blend, making our 2016 Bonne Vivante unlike any other wine in our portfolio – or any previous vintage of Bonne Vivante, for that matter.

Walla Walla Vintners Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 – $35
Winemaker’s Notes: Plum, blackberry and cassis waft out of the glass with notes of mint, cocoa, espresso and vanilla. Grippy tannins bring more red fruit, raspberry and cherry to a palate laced with hints of freshly cut hay, rose petal and licorice. Deftly balanced with an eternal finish recalling black fruit, cedar and cinnamon.

Hamel Family Isthmus 2016 – $85
Winemaker’s Notes: Dark ruby garnet in hue, this wine shows a bouquet of sweet dark cherry, plum and kirsch over complex notes of soy, vanilla and spice. The fruit evolves to sweet mulled dark red fruits and blackberry preserve on the palate, framed by concentrated, sweet tannins and integrated oak. This wine is the most structured and persistent Isthmus we have made to date. It will provide great drinking pleasure in the near term and continue to develop gracefully over the next ten years.

Gamble Family Paramount Red 2015 – $90
Winemaker’s Notes: Inviting aromas of fig, wild blueberry, black cherry, licorice, and sweet pipe tobacco. A beautifully medium-full bodied wine, finely balanced between juicy fruit and savory baking spice notes. Plum, ripe cherry, soft strawberries, and peppery redcurrants are complemented with toasted walnuts, cinnamon, and clove on the palate. Moderate alcohol, firm acidity, and velvety tannins help to frame a delicious flavor-packed finish.

Kalle Bergman is a food writer and media entrepreneur who is the founder of Honest Cooking. As a food writer, his writing has been regularly featured in publications like Gourmet, Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post and Serious Eats. He is obsessed with simple food, more often than not from his native Scandinavia.