Why You Should Reconsider Buying Cooking Wine At The Grocery Store

The rule of thumb for choosing a wine to cook with has always been to not cook with a wine that you wouldn't drink. Considering that evaluating wine is inherently subjective and that it's perfectly okay for people to like different things, how accurate or useful is this rule of thumb? Turns out, it's useful, with a few caveats. If you're tempted to cook with the box of wine you keep on your counter or in the fridge, don't hesitate. Boxed wine is convenient, and keeps longer than an open bottle of wine, and Martha Stewart even shares that many great professional chefs use boxed wine for cooking.

But if you have a sweet tooth when it comes to your wine selection, you may want to pause before you splash a Moscato or riesling into your recipe, unless what you're making specifically calls for a sweet wine. While a sweet wine may be delicious and what you prefer to drink, if the recipe calls for a dry wine, you may throw off the finished dish, according to Serious Eats. Particularly if the recipe has a long cooking time, which concentrates the sweetness and flavor of a wine, using sweet wine for many recipes will yield less-than-ideal results. And speaking of undesirable results, there's one kind of wine that every expert agrees you should never cook with.

Cooking wine is a cooking don't

If you're not a regular wine drinker, you may consider simply grabbing a bottle of cooking wine off the grocery store shelf when you need a cup or two for a recipe. Resist the urge. Why? Food Network explains that not only is cooking wine something you wouldn't want to drink, but it's also not something you want to cook with. Cooking wine contains preservatives and sodium — lots of sodium, which is why grocery stores without a liquor license are able to sell it. It's not meant to be drunk.

Home Cook World points out that most cooking wine contains 8% of its weight in salt, or, for a 750-milliliter bottle, about two ounces of salt. Two ounces of salt contains roughly 22,000 milligrams of sodium, according to Nutrition Value. Given the FDA recommendation that adults consume less than 2,300 milligrams of salt daily, cooking wine's a bad idea for a number of reasons. Not only will cooking wine add tons of sodium to your recipes and make them taste too salty, but the wine is also of poor quality, Food Network points out. While you don't need a spendy bottle of wine to use for cooking, your wine should, at the very least, be palatable. Cooking wine most certainly does not fit in the palatable category.