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The use of wine as a culinary ingredient dates back to the first century, about the same time that different cultures discovered how to make wine.
But wait, is cooking wine the same as regular wine?
There are three main differences between the two types of wine, which you can easily identify after a sip or two, or by checking the bottle. First, cooking wine is much cheaper as it’s made from very low-quality grapes, such as malbecs, and sometimes even faulty grapes. Regular wine is slightly more expensive and is made from top quality grapes to enhance the alcoholic effect.
Secondly, cooking wine is usually saltier to the taste compared to the (mostly) sweet drinking wines. This is due to the fact that it is loaded with preservatives such as potassium sorbate, which have a distinctly salty taste.
Thirdly, and most importantly, cooking wine can be stored for up to a year (and sometimes more) after opening the bottle, without losing the flavors. In contrast, drinking wine gets sour a few days after opening the bottle.
While dedicated cooking wines are often cheaper and have heat-resistant flavors, most of them have trashy flavors, which may affect the overall taste of your food. To be on the safe side, always perform a taste test on every wine you plan to use in your meals. And if you can’t drink a glass of it, don’t use it on your food.
Nonetheless, we went wine hunting and discovered several amazing cooking wines that will definitely add a heavenly dimension to your dishes. Our top pick is the Iberia Red Cooking Wine, closely followed by the Holland House Cooking Wine (Red). Bellow, there’s a quick buying guide to help you find the perfect bottle for your needs.
Our Top Choice...
For the complete product list, please continue reading...
12 Best Cooking Wines REVIEWS of 2021
1. Best overall – Iberia Vino De Cocinar Red Cooking Wine
Works well with a variety of recipes
Can be used as a tenderizer for beef, pork and poultry
Does not contain allergens or artificial additives
Has a long shelf life
Contains lots of salt, thus not ideal as a food and beverage pairing
- Alcohol: 12%
- Quantity: 25.4 fl. oz.
The Iberia Vino De Cocinar is an exquisite red cooking wine ideal for all types of recipes. A splash of this wine can turn any ordinary meal into a delicacy as it adds a very nice dimension of flavor to your dish.
The wine works well with meat, poultry and unique cuisines, and you can use it to compliment the natural flavors of your vegetables and sauces. As if that is not enough, you may use this wine to tenderize different meats, moisturize your dishes, or as a finishing touch for every serving.
This full-strength wine is one of the key elements of food presentation. Besides adding a touch of sweetness to your dish, the wine retains its deep red color on your meals, allowing you to impress your guests with stunning food presentations.
The alcohol content is only 12%, which sounds great for a food and wine pairing. However, since it contains 1.5% seasoned salt, this wine is obviously not ideal for a beverage and we don’t expect you to pair it with your bold-flavored meals.
Another point worth noting is that this red wine for cooking is allergen-free. It does not contain dairy, eggs, fish, nuts, sesame, wheat, soy or any other ingredients that could trigger an allergic reaction.
2. Runner Up – Holland House Red Cooking Wine
Has a smooth, medium-bodied flavor
Does not contain artificial sugars or sweeteners
Pairs well with dark meats, hearty vegetables and sauces
Works as a dressing, tenderizer or natural marinade
Better shelf life than most red wines
Some people find the flavor to be too mild
- Alcohol: 10%
- Quantity: 16 fl. oz.
This red cooking wine by Holland House offers a smooth, tasty, medium-bodied flavor ideal for a variety of hearty meat and vegetable recipes. The wine boasts of a classic, rich ruby color and a deep aroma, and it pairs well with meats like beef, pork and lamb.
Furthermore, you can use this full-strength red wine as a dressing, a natural marinade, or as a tenderizer for your meat and poultry recipes. It will soften your tough cuts and make them tasty and easy to chew.
One thing you’ll certainly love about this wine is that it is not too ‘bold’ like other red wines. Yes, it does enhance the flavor of your dish, but it is not at all overpowering or acidic.
Besides, the alcoholic content is only 10%, and it does not contain any artificial sugars or sweeteners. This makes it a great option for people who want to add an extra layer of flavor to their meals without worrying about acid refluxes.
When you buy the Holland House Red Cooking Wine, you can rest assured that you are getting the best premium quality at an affordable price!
3. The Healthiest Wine - Kedem White Cooking Wine, Gluten Free 12.07 oz
The lack of chemicals and artificial sweeteners means you don't have to worry about exceeding your daily calorie count when using it
Very reasonably priced
Tastes amazing on seafood
You may find it a bit off-putting in terms of taste if you're used to regular wine
Comes in a small bottle
- Volume: 375 ml bottle
- Alcohol content: 12%
- Color: Pale whited (almost greyish)
We understand that not everyone is looking to increase waistlines, especially at this time when exercise and most physical activities are mostly impeded by lockdown and curfews. So, we lurked on the ‘Healthy Foods’ sections of various stores and happened to discover this amazing gem that is Kedem White Cooking Wine.
As you can tell from the name, Kedem is a Jewish foods brand (a major one at that) that specializes in kosher foods. Hence, this wine is not only free from artificial flavors and colors, but it’s also not made using any grains or dough, which effectively makes it gluten-free. If health and fitness is your thing, this is arguably the best wine you can ever buy.
It is pale white – almost greyish – in color and enhances (to a great extent) all the hidden flavors in your foods. Splash a few spoonfuls of it on your deep fried shrimp – or any seafood for that matter – and it’s goodbye to your taste buds, figuratively speaking.
4. Best for Fish & Chicken – Reese Red Cooking Wine
Aged in wooden casks for a rich, deep taste
The wine has a subtle flavor and it’s not too overwhelming
Ideal for fish and poultry dishes
Can be used with soups, sauces and casseroles
One case comes with up to 6 bottles of wine
Somehow pricey since one cannot buy single bottles
- Alcohol: 12%
- Quantity: 12.7 fl. oz.
Reese Red Cooking Wine is aggressively marketed as the first red wine for cooking made in the USA. So, if you love homemade wines tailored for American culinary dishes, then this red wine is exactly what you need.
This vintage cooking wine is full of flavor and goodness. Like fine wine, the condiment is aged in wooden barrels for years to develop a rich, deep flavor not available anywhere else. A few drops of this wine will add a delicate taste and depth to your fish and chicken stews. The wine also pairs well with sauces, casseroles, and soups.
Consisting of 12% alcohol by volume, the Reese red wine for cooking is not bitter or acidic. It has a smooth and soft taste that will stimulate your taste buds and bring out the flavor of your dish without being overwhelming.
When you buy this vintage amethyst, you will receive more than you asked for. One case of this cooking condiment can serve you for the rest of the year as it comes with 6 bottles of fine red wine.
5. Best for Chinese Dishes – Qian Hu Chinese Shaohsing Red Cooking Wine
Replicates the exact flavor of Chinese food
Can be used with other dishes apart from Chinese cuisine
Made from rice and it consists of organic ingredients
Has a mildly sweet flavor and fragrant aroma
Available at a fair price
The wine is not gluten-free since it contains some wheat
- Alcohol: 15%
- Quantity: 25.4 fl. oz.
If you want to cook delicious homemade Chinese dishes, you have to use the same ingredients the people from Southeast use. The Qian Hu Chinese Shaohsing Red Cooking Wine lets you cook your favorite Oriental cuisines with the same authenticate restaurant flavor you may find hard to replicate at home.
This red wine is made from rice, and it is undeniable the key to authentic Chinese cooking. In case you’ve been wondering why your food doesn’t taste like the real deal, well here’s the missing ingredient.
Whether you want to cook a dish of Yangzhou fried rice with red wine or braise pork balls in gravy, this sweet alcoholic condiment will turn your dish from good to great in just one cooking session.
The wine is mildly sweet with a fragrant aroma and it has a dark amber color, making it ideal for a wide range of Asian cuisines. The best part is that you can consume it as a beverage, but you first need to warm it before drinking.
Packaged in 25.4 and 50.8-ounce bottles, this rice red wine is competitively priced and readily available. One thing you need to know though is that the Qian Hu Chinese Shaohsing Red Cooking Wine contains some wheat, meaning it’s not gluten free.
6. Best Versatile – Edmundo Vino Tinto Para Cocinar Red Wine
Versatile - Suitable for a wide range of recipes
Contains naturally occurring sulfites as a preservative
Does not contain any allergens or hidden ingredients
Available at an extremely affordable price
Comes in a flimsy plastic bottle
- Alcohol: 12%
- Quantity: 25.4 fl. oz.
To add that special Spanish/Mexican touch to your cuisines, the Edmundo Vino Tinto Para Cocinar Red Cooking Wine is all you need. This sparkling wine contains 12% alcohol and it is extremely flavorful in any type of dish.
When it comes to spicing up your meals, the Edmundo red wine does not disappoint. It is one of the most versatile condiments in the market, and you can try it with all your favorite cuisines, ranging from sautéed shrimps to hearty vegetables.
It comes in a 25.4-ounce bottle so you and your family can enjoy tasty dishes every week to the last drop. Moreover, the wine does not require refrigeration since it contains naturally occurring sulfites to give it a longer shelf life.
Although it contains alcohol, this red wine is not ideal for consumption as a beverage. The wine is specifically made for cooking and it contains 1.5% seasoned salt, thus it is not good for drinking.
The only slight concern with this red wine is the packaging. It comes in a flimsy plastic-like bottle instead of the usual glass bottle. However, this is not a deal-breaker as it does not affect the overall taste of the wine.
7. Best White Wine - Gabbiano Pinot Grigio Promesa 750 ml
Has an amazing range of tropical/citrus/floral smells and flavors that combine well with almost all sorts of foods
Adds a distinctively sweet taste to meals
The large bottle means it can serve you for quite a long time, assuming you don't drink it all the first time (it's incredibly sweet)
The price is slightly above average for a cooking wine
- Volume: 750 ml bottle
- Color: Pale straw
- Alcohol content: 12%
White wines may not be most people’s favorite drink, but are certainly worth their name as a kitchen ingredient. Pinot grigio is one of the best white wines available, second only to Chardonnay in terms of popularity. They are usually high in acidity, moderately alcoholic, dry and provide a wide range of flavors, from sweet to slightly sour – all which makes them perfect for cooking.
The Gabbiano Pinot Grigio Promessa is arguably the best pinot grigio wine in the market, as it has all the features you would look for in a cooking wine. It’s alcohol content is a moderate 12%, which makes it perfect for cooking soft foods such as vegetables, mushrooms and shellfish. It is also quite neutral in taste, flawlessly combining the flavors (and aromas) of pear, green apple and lemon.
It has a pale strawish color and a floral-cum-tropical aroma, and is slightly citrusy to the taste. When cooked, it gives the food a vibrant and refreshing taste and aroma and it is particularly effective at neutralizing all those little unsavory smells in seafood.
8. Best Gluten Free – Roland Red Cooking Wine
Has a deep fruity flavor with a rich, robust taste
Suitable for marinades, vinaigrette and salad dressings
Gluten-free wine - ideal for special diets
Aged in wooden casks like fine wine to give it a rich flavor
Can be used as a glaze for heartier foods
The wine is 7% acidic
- Alcohol: 6%
- Quantity: 33.8 fl. oz.
Roland Foods is a popular brand in the specialty food and gourmet world. It is therefore not surprising that this condiment is one of our favorite red wines for cooking.
Whether you are into French, Italian, Asia, Indian or Caribbean Cuisines, this flavorful red wine is intended to satisfy any appetite.
The wine is aged naturally in wooden casks for several weeks before it is bottled to give it a rich and robust taste. It contains natural raspberry and vinegar, which explain the deep fruity flavor with a hint of sweetness you get when you add a splash of this wine to any delicacy.
You can use it for your marinades, vinaigrette, sauces and salad dressings. It also pairs well as a glaze for heartier foods such as beef, pork and veggies. The best part is that it is gluten-free, making it ideal for anyone on a special diet.
The only blemish is that the acidity level of this red wine is on the higher side. At 7% acidity, there’s a slight chance of experiencing acid refluxes if you add too much of this wine to your dish.
9. Best Blend – Heinz Vinegar Red Wine
Perfect blend of vinegar and red wine
Premium quality red wine suitable for broths, salads and marinades
Very low acidity of 5% only
Available at a fair price
The flavor is not strong enough since it’s diluted with water
- Alcohol: 2%
- Quantity: 12 fl. oz.
If you are searching for the best red wine and vinegar blend, then look no further! The Heinz Red Cooking Wine is a blend of the finest vinegar and premium quality Burgundy table wine.
As you probably know, Heinz is one of the most popular brands in the food and gourmet space. They are renowned for making top-quality vinegar, ketchup and other condiments. Given such grandstanding reputation, you would be forgiven to assume that all their bottles are in the mid to high-end bracket. However, that’s not the case.
Here you have a great quality blend that retails at the unbelievably low price. It is worth pointing out that this classic blend made from Burgundy grapes grown and harvested in New York and Georgia. The grapes give the wine a rich and vibrant color coupled with a fruity flavor to add a dynamic taste to any dish. It makes a great pairing with all manner of dishes, including broths, salads and starters. It also works well as a glaze, marinade or salad dressing.
Given that the wine contains vinegar, you cannot enjoy like any other table wine. That’s the sad part, but it makes up for this shortcoming by spicing up your dishes like no other red wine around!
10. Best Organic – Acetum Vino Rosa Organic Red Wine
Perfect blend of vinegar and red wine
Suitable for grilled meat, BBQ dishes and vegetable salads
Consists of 100% organic ingredients
Offers plenty of health benefits
Reasonably priced compared to other red wine blends
Some people do not like the taste of vinegar
- Alcohol: 2%
- Quantity: 16.9 fl. oz.
The Acetum Organic Red Wine is a condiment like no other. The wine is made from organic grapes and apples and it consists of unpasteurized and unfiltered vinegar to give it a unique and superior taste.
This red wine for cooking has a savory taste, and it pairs well with a number of recipes such as grilled meat and BBQ dishes. It also works well as a dressing for your vegetables and salads. You can as well use this wine and vinegar blend to deglaze your pan. Try it…It really works.
And since the wine is unaltered, it preserves the presence of the “mother”. In case you are wondering, the mother is what forms when the natural process of fermentation begins. It turns the grape juice into wine and vinegar.
Now the mother of the wine offers so many benefits. Apart from enhancing the flavor of your dish, this red vinegar wine is a natural antioxidant. It also helps treat acid refluxes and it boasts of anti-glycemic properties.
11. Best Budget Red Wine – Goya Red Cooking Wine
Replicates the flavor of Mexican and Latino cuisines
Comes in a plastic bottle for safe and easy storage
Every bottle offers more than 25 servings
One of the least expensive red wines for cooking
Requires refrigeration since it loses its taste after a few days
- Alcohol: 12%
- Quantity: 25.4 fl. oz.
Cooking delicious Mexican and Latin cuisines has never been easier with the emergence of the Goya Vino De Cocinar Red Cooking Wine. Stocking your pantry with this special selection of red wine will ensure you cook perfectly seasoned stews, salads, dressings and sauces every time.
Whether you want to prepare filet mignon or Ancho braised beef cheeks, this red wine is the perfect cooking base for a lip-smacking Latino dish. It is made from fermented grapes to give it a deep red color, and it consists of 12% alcohol by volume and 1.5% sazonado con (seasoned salt) for a rich, savory flavor.
Since it contains seasoned salt, the wine is obviously not good for drinking as a beverage. Moreover, the salty taste might ruin your meal if you pour too much. Considering this, you should use it in moderation.
Then again, we noticed the Goya Vino De Cocinar Red Coking Wine requires refrigeration after opening lest it will lose its taste after a few days. The wine comes in a 25.4 fl. oz. plastic bottle so you can rest assured the bottle will not break or spill the content when dropped accidentally.
The best part is that this red wine for cooking is one of the most cost-effective options as it costs less than 10 bucks thus saving you from splurging tens of dollars on a high-end bottle.
12. Best Budget White Wine - Reese Vintage White Cooking Wine (Case of 6)
Contains no gluten and artificial sugars and flavors
It is very cheap
It is Kosher certified
Dynamic and flexible enough to work with various types of foods and recipes
The lack of sugars makes the salty taste more pronounced which may put you off
- Volume: 12.7-ounce (375 ml) bottles
- Color: white
They may be relative unknowns in the wine scene, but gourmet specialists Reese definitely spazzed on this one. The Vintage White Cooking Wine adds a whole new dimension of flavors to your dishes, especially red meats. It is also Kosher Certified, which means its sugar and gluten free.
Apart from sauteing and frying red meats, the Reese Vintage White Cooking Wine also works great on sauces, stews, soups and all types of salads. We tried it on a fish and chips recipe and it was also finger licking good, which means it works on seafood as well. It is also flexible enough to work as a marinade for the softer red meats such as veal and lamb.
The best thing about this wine is perhaps its price tag. If you buy it on Amazon, where it’s sold as a case of 6 bottles, you will pay an average of $0.35 per ounce, which is abominably cheap for a wine of its quality.
If you are looking to venture into fine dining and cooking with wine, it is imperative that you familiarize yourself with the best products in the market, and it is important that you pick the best alcoholic beverage for your kitchen.
In this review, we have highlighted some of our best picks based on a number of characteristics, including flavor, aroma, blend quality and price.
We are therefore certain that you are now better placed to pick the right ingredient the next time you go shopping for the best red wine for cooking. Always remember to ask us for recommendations whenever in doubt.
Our overall winner remains the Iberia Vino De Cocinar Red Cooking Wine. This is mainly because it is ideal for preparing a wide variety of dishes, and has a smooth and rich taste. Most importantly, it is cheaper than most red cooking wines, and it has a nice full-bodied flavor.
Buy one today!
Buying Guide: Factors to Consider When Buying Cooking Wine
If you are an oenophile, chances are you can easily pick out the best red wine to use in your cooking.
However, even if you don’t drink wine regularly and are not well versed in the different types of wine and accessories that you can use, here are a number of tips that can help you pick the best red wine for cooking purposes.
The Type of Meals You Plan to Use the Wine On
Basically, different types of wine go well with different types of foods, and mixing up your choices can end up very badly for you. In essence, if you’re planning to cook or grill a steak, or any red meats, a red wine would be your best option. White wines, on the other hand, combine much better with creamy sauces, spicy foods, and white meat (pork, seafood, chicken, duck, etc).
Acidity and Alcoholic Content
When shopping for the best red wine for cooking, consider the level of acidity and the alcohol content by volume. These two factors will have a great bearing on the overall taste, flavor and aroma of your dish.
Ideally, the acidity level should be less than 7% to avoid making your dish sour and to prevent the risk of acid refluxes. Then again, the alcohol content by volume should be between 2% and 15% for best results.
Even if you have an opened bottle, cooking wines can be stored on a wine rack and drink, it will last for a long time. That’s why you won’t need wines that have additives. It’s best to avoid red cooking wines that have artificial food colorings, sugars and sweeteners. These additives might ruin not only your meal but also cause grievous harm to your health. They may also cause allergic reactions in some people and aggravate various chronic ailments.
Dry vs. Sweet
The choice on whether to buy dry or sweet wine depends on the kind of dish you are preparing. If you are cooking a savory meal, you should ideally go for dry red wine. It is worth pointing out that fruit-forward does not necessarily mean sweet.
If the label on the bottle describes the wine as fruity, this just implies that it has a concentrated fruit flavor, and is not automatically sweet.
On the other hand, sweet red wines tend to work best for dessert recipes and salads since they enhance the taste without interfering with the flavor of the condiments used.
Obviously, you should go for the most reasonably priced option, depending on your budget. But while at it, don’t just pick a wine because it’s cheap. Instead, identify all the options that meet all the above criteria and then choose the most affordable one from amongst them.