What does “dry white wine” mean? How much should you spend on wine, and what should you look out for? It would help if you cooked with the same wine that you drink. Braithe Tiedwell, the wine director of Brennan’s located in New Orleans, was asked to give us a general idea of how to cook wine.
What grows together goes together.
Tidwell says that this basic rule for wine pairing also applies to cooking. Make an Italian dish. Choose an Italian wine. French? Same. Use local products if you are lucky enough to be in a wine-producing region and cook with local produce.
Sometimes, you can cook with what you drink.
Tidwell believes that you shouldn’t be afraid to use the same wine for cooking as you would when pairing it with a meal, particularly if only a small quantity is required. If I want to use this wine to pair with my meal, I might choose something mid-range that I can cook with and also serve at dinner. She says that while cooking wines are meant to complement ingredients, as a Sommelier, she often pairs contrasting wines with meals.
Acidity is Key
It’s important to choose a white wine with high acidity, especially if you are using cream or butter. Pinot Grigio, for example, is a good choice. It’s a great go-to wine because it is generally inexpensive. For reds, she prefers Chianti, which is also affordable. Tidwell recommends Semillon, red Rhones, and other French wines. She recommends New York State Rieslings and California Pinot Noirs for domestic consumption, as well as Washington State Cabernets.
Not your grandmother’s boxed wine
Tidwell says that there’s nothing wrong with buying a box of wines to use in cooking and also drink some. Boxed wine is getting better (https://www.gq.com/story/wine-without-bottles) every day, and “I’m one of those somms who believes as long as you’re drinking wine you like, you’re doing great. I have definitely bought some boxed wines for Christmas dinner.”
Lightning Round Recommendations by Dish
Tomato Sauce for Pasta – “A lighter, zestier Italian wine like Chianti.”
Braised beef: A Nebbiolo wine from Piedmont that has a high acidity will help a lot with braising.
Cotes du Rhone is a great wine to serve with braised lamb.
Braised pork: I like the idea of pairing white wine with it, Chardonnay.
It would help if you used Pinot Noir for Coq au Vin. Burgundy is expensive, but you can get Cote Bourgogne for around $25 or $30.
Pan Sauce for Steak: “Probably Syrah or something from the Northern Rhone. Or a blend.”
Pan Sauce for Pork: You can use white or red wine, which is great fun. You can use a red wine with a herbaceous taste, such as Cab Franc, from the Loire Valley. Or a Chardonnay from California.
Pan Sauce Seafood (Shrimp and Scallops): Sauvignon Blanc.
Mussels: I recommend something Greek, such as an Assyrtiko. It’s inexpensive and hard to find, but is great with seafood.
Marinade for Grilling: Something with high acidity, like Chianti.
Risotto – “I’d go with white, but you can choose red.” Vernaccia, a Vernaccia, is a great Italian food. It’s affordable and has a pleasantly acidic taste.
Desserts: Brachetto d’Asti Piedmont is perfect for something like a fruity sauce. Ruby Port is also a great option.
Ask lots of questions. They’ve been where you are. Royal says, “The great thing about wine, and anyone working in any aspect, is that we start at the same place.”
Watch the Women Behind the Wine video to learn more about Royal and her journey from novice winemaker to expertly managing the Monte Rosso Vineyard.