“Never cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink.”
You know that, right? It’s drilled into even those of us who don’t cook very much, and from an early age.
But, it turns out, it’s kinda — well, it’s bullshit. The NYT’s Julia Moskin, bless her, actually did some empirical testing, and it turns out that tannins, for instance, which can be great in wine for drinking, “become unpleasantly astringent when cooked”. Hence this delight:
The final test was a three-way blind tasting of risotto al Barolo…
I made the dish three times in one morning: first with a 2000 Barolo ($69.95), next with a 2005 dolcetto d’Alba ($22.95), and finally with a jack-of-all-wines, a Charles Shaw cabernet sauvignon affectionately known to Trader Joe’s shoppers as Two-Buck Chuck. (Introduced at $1.99, the price is up to $2.99 at the Manhattan store.)
Although the Barolo was rich and complex to drink, of the seven members of the Dining section staff who tasted the risottos, no one liked the Barolo-infused version best. “Least flavorful,” “sharp edges” and “sour,” they said.
The winner, by a vote of 4-to-3, was the Charles Shaw wine, which was the youngest and grapiest in the glass: the tasters said the wine’s fruit “stood up well to the cheese” and made the dish rounder. “It’s the best of both worlds,” one taster said, citing the astringency of the Barolo version and the overripe alcoholic perfume of the dolcetto. The young, fruity upstart beat the Old World classic by a mile.
I love any situation where cheaper is better, and cheapest is best. They don’t come along very often, but this is clearly one of them.