The Best Red Wines to Cook With

You have probably seen chefs pouring wine into their saucepan numerous times on TV, “for added flavor.” And yes, adding wine to a simple recipe imparts a more exuberant flavor to it. For many years, people believed that they could reuse a bottle of wine that they did not like by using it for cooking, but it has since been made clear that the most important rule of cooking with red wine is to only use one that you would drink. Obviously, if you do not like the taste of the wine, there is no chance that you will like how your finished meal tastes with it.

For this reason, there isn’t really a concrete set of standards for the best red wine to cook with. Any type of wine will do, but it all boils down to how you would like your food to taste. Some recipes call for a fruitier flavor, while others would taste a lot better with a little more acidity. With that being said, most recipes in general benefit from a dry red wine.

How to Cook With Red Wine

Wine, red or white, is used to enhance and intensify the flavor of the food that you are cooking, not to obscure it. Think of it as a seasoning – and as with any seasoning, wine should be used in small amounts so that it only enhances and doesn’t overpower the dish.

If you have any concerns regarding the alcohol in the wine, don’t worry because the alcohol evaporates as the wine simmers with the food, which leaves only the flavor and the acidity behind. Again, it should be treated as one of the ingredients and not a special addition to the dish. It should be used in small quantities and should be allowed to boil down or simmer. If you add the wine just before serving or later in the process, it could be a little too harsh and could overpower the original flavor.

Another thing to remember is that not every dish should have red wine or white wine in it. One dish with wine in it is enough for a night or else you risk being monotonous. It should also only be added if it goes along well with the flavor that you want.

What to Keep in Mind When Cooking With Red Wine

Aside from not using any wine that you would not drink on its own, here are a few other things that you must not forget when cooking with red wine.

  • Avoid cooking wines. They are often made with cheap and thin base wine with added sodium and food coloring, so they will not impart the same flavor enhancing properties that a good quality wine will.
  • Hearty dishes will benefit more from dry red wines like Zinfandel and Petite Syrah, while a lighter dish will be better with Pinot Noir.

What is the Best Red Wine to Cook With?

The best red wine for pot roast is relative, and while there isn’t a strict rule for choosing, there are certain ones that are better in bringing out the best in a dish. You don’t have to splurge on a super-expensive bottle of wine, but cheap wines may not enhance the flavor of your dish as well as a high quality wine would.

We listed down five of the best tasting wines so that you have an idea where to start in your search for the best red wine for cooking.

Barefoot Shiraz Red Wine


  • Alcohol Content: 13.5%
  • Medium Bodied
  • Perfect for red sauce pastas, red meats, and sharp cheese
  • Produced in California

Barefoot is the wine that is not only perfect for a chill and relaxed drinking but also blends well with the flavor of cheesy, red sauce pastas. Its bright, fruity flavor adds a little bit of sweetness to any meaty pasta dish. It complements any recipe without fail and will surely make you want to come back for more.

Zombie Zin California Zinfandel Red Wine


  • Alcohol by Volume: 13.7%
  • Perfect for BBQ meats, soups, and fleshy stew
  • Produced in California

Zombie Zin California Zinfandel comes in a very dark, almost black-purple color. It has aromas of ripe, dense black fruits and a hint of dried herbs. With its complex flavors and rich aroma of succulent blackberries, powdered cinnamon, cola, and cherry jam, it imparts a fruity yet spicy flavor to your dish. It is perfect to pair with barbecued meats and stew.

Valserrano Rioja Crianza


  • 90% Tempranillo 10% Mazuelo
  • Ripe red berries, moderate acid, gritty tannins and red pepper spice
  • Alcohol by Volume: 14.5%
  • Perfect to pair with grilled pork, burrito, italian sausage, and spaghetti recipes

Valserrano Rioja Crianza will greet you with hints of wet forest floor, raspberry and pomegranate flavor, and notes of spice and soft vanilla. It is great to pair with and to add to a delicious dish of grilled meat, steaks, burritos, and spaghetti with tomato sauce.

Carson Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon


  • Medium-Full Bodied
  • Plum, pepper, and a mixture of red berries
  • Perfect to pair with barbecue brisket, pulled pork sandwich, and chicken teriyaki

Carson Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon is a fruity, medium-full bodied red wine perfect for cooking with pork and any Texas-style barbecued meat. It imparts a savory and peppery flavor to your dish with its soft oak and tannin content, with a hint of black cherry, red currant, and raspberry.

Black Oak Pinot Noir Delle Venezie Italian Red Wine


  • Smooth, velvety finish
  • Alcohol by Volume: 12%
  • 100% Pinot Noir
  • Medium Bodied

Black Oak Pinot Noir is a dry wine that comes in a deep ruby color, greeting you with a mixture of sweet spices, cinnamon, and nutmeg. It is overflowing with the flavor of ripe black cherry. Its smooth, velvety texture makes it perfect to pair with any meal, and is also great for enhancing the flavors of many dishes with its fresh acidity.

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