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Old 08-10-2007, 11:03 AM   #1
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Exclamation Cooking with Wines... new at this!

Okay, about a week ago, I decided to start cooking with wines.
I decided to get a 2003 Italian Charrdonay (about $9) and make a cream sauce with it.
However, the sauce turned out VERY SOUR!

The wine had a slighly fruity taste, and a slightly sour taste to it. It was not exactly the best charrdonay I've had...
I did reduce just the Charrdonay the day after to check if it was the wine or something else... and it was the wine.

I've tested these over the week that were laying around the house:
Napoleon Brandy == Sweet, slighly smokey
JohnnyWalker BL == little Watery, very smokey

Q1) I was wondering if ALL Charrdonay have a sour taste when reduced, or is it just mine?

Q2) Also, do any of you know any good WHITE wines that would result in a sweet cream or pesto type sauce? (This does with Red wines as well.)

Does anyone know what the following taste like (after reduction)?
(US/FR) SauvignonBlanc == ???
(IT) Pinot Grigio == ???
(US) Zinfandel == ???
(AU) Semillon == ???
(GR) Riesling == ???

(US/FR/IT) Merlot == ???
(US/FR) Pinot Noir == ???
(US) CabernetSauvignon == ???
(FR) Bordeaux == ???
(AU) Shiraz == ???

(I've drank: PG, Merlot, CS, and Shiraz... but not in cooking)

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Old 08-10-2007, 11:22 AM   #2
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I’ve found that most Chardonnays are very dry (not sweet), and some are even a little bitter or sour. Typically, the darker the Chardonnay, the drier and more bitter it is likely to be. Naturally, when you reduce the wine, you are concentrating the flavors, so if it started off slightly bitter or sour, reducing it will only increase that characteristic.

For a sweet white wine, go with an inexpensive Chablis. Riesling is also a great choice, as is a Moscato (Muscat).
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Old 08-10-2007, 11:48 AM   #3
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It's impossible to describe what they will taste like, sorry. Wines obviously vary in flavor depending on the grape used but even wines using the same grape will vary widely depending on how the wine is made, aged, stored, etc.

I am thinking that how your sauce came out had more to do with how you made it than the wine you used, though I always recommend against using chardonnays in cooking unless you really like the particular bottle you are using.

How did you make it?

If you want a sweeter sauce, I'd suggest using a sweet vermouth or marsala or sherry.

If you want to use wine, though, a Pino Grigio or Pino Gris is a good choice for a light dry white without some of the unpleasant notes that charddonays often bring. Reislings often have distinct mineral notes, but they are good for cooking too. Many reislings are very dry, while others are offdry, so make sure you ask before you buy.

Also zinfandel is a red wine.
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Old 08-10-2007, 08:36 PM   #4
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A sweet wine will taste sweet and have less of a "kick"

A dry wine will be a bit stronger tasting.

I prefer Marsala in most of my dishes, but the type of wine you use depends on the dish. If you are unsure, follow what the recipe calls for, if not specific, use what you know already to help decide.

Q1) Chardonnay tends to be sour regardless of brand, some more so than others.

Q2) Id use Riesling or Pinot. Something white, light, and sweet (not overly fruity). No Merlot or anything like that.
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Old 08-10-2007, 11:36 PM   #5
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Hi dredogol, I have sort of a principle I adhere to before I add stuff to the pot.

If I am going to add an ingredient I am not entirely familiar with, I will taste it before tossing it into the dish.

That dictum has saved me many times.

To me a wine reduction is no different than any other ingredient, you have to foresee how it will affect the dish before you add it.

If you want to learn to cook with wine, one way is to take a half cup of any wine you buy to dirnk and reduce it. Give the reduction a taste. And think if it would go well with cream, or add a dimension to a brown sauce, or any other dish.

Just my two cents. Take care.
Before criticizing a person, walk a mile in his shoes - then you are a mile away and you have his shoes!
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Old 08-11-2007, 05:57 AM   #6
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I agree that, if you are unsure, reduce some and decide if it will work with what you are cooking. I use red wines sparingly for pan sauces, generously for braises. If I use a white wine, I often use Chardonnay, but one that is not oakey--the oakey ones reduce to a bitter flavour, IMO. For a sweeter finish, I go with a white Zinfandel, a wine I rarely drink on its own. Brandy or Bourbon is great for sauces, but they're not wine, hence off topic. My fallback position is sweet or dry vermouth, depending on the dish.
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Old 08-11-2007, 07:07 AM   #7
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My staple cooking wines are Sauvignon Blancs and Merlots.
Then of course I use certain wines for specific dishes like Marsala and Port.

Look for something that isn't too acidic, doesn't have too much wood (like almost all Chardonnay's have to my mouth), and has a flavor that tastes good to you as is. With reds I also look for something without too many tannins (Cabernet Sauvignon is usually one I avoid for reduced sauces).

I'm a big fan of sweet wines for drinkning - my wine rack is filled with about 60-70% rieslings. I also enjoy sweet red table wines. I will open a bottle of Fume Blanc for heavy/creamy seafood dishes though. I also have an appreciation for old Cabernet's that have lost that young vigor, mellowed out, and taken on a much more relaxed mouthfeel - but they're usually outside my normal spending range (maybe once a year around the holidays).

I'll cook with my rieslings if the dish warrants those sweet orchard flavors. An apple and onion pan sauce with pork is a natural for it.
Nick ~ "Egg whites are good for a lot of things; lemon meringue pie, angel food cake, and clogging up radiators." - MacGyver
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