10 Best Red Wines for Cooking: A Beginner's Guide to Add Flavour to Your Dishes

 Are you looking for the perfect red wine to add flavour to your dishes? Look no further! In this guide, we'll introduce you to the 10 best varieties of red wine for cooking, and give you tips on how to choose the right one for your dish.

Definition of Red Wines Used for Cooking

Red wine for cooking is a wine that is specifically made for adding flavour to dishes during the cooking process. Unlike table wine, cooking wine contains a higher level of salt, making it unsuitable for drinking.

It also has added preservatives to increase its shelf life.

Reasons to Use Red Wines for Cooking

Red wines are an essential ingredient for many recipes. They add depth, richness, and complexity to dishes that cannot be achieved with other ingredients.

Red wine is particularly useful in dishes that involve slow cooking or braising, as it helps to tenderise meat and infuse it with plenty of flavour. In addition to adding depth and richness, red wines can also provide a subtle sweetness to dishes, balancing out the saltiness and acidity of other ingredients.

They can also help to deglaze a pan, scraping up any browned bits left behind by meat or vegetables, which can then be incorporated into a sauce or gravy. Another benefit of using red wine in cooking is that it can act as a natural preservative, extending the shelf life of your dishes.

This can be especially helpful when preparing large batches of food for meal prep or freezing leftovers. Last but not least, red wine also has potential health benefits, as it contains antioxidants and polyphenols that can help protect the body against damage from free radicals.

While the amount of these compounds present in a dish may be small, every little bit helps contribute to a healthy diet.

10 Best Red Wines for Cooking

Cabernet Sauvignon: This full-bodied wine with its dark fruit notes is perfect for hearty meat dishes like stews and roasts.

Pinot Noir: This light-bodied red wine with its fruit and earthy notes is perfect for dishes with mild flavours like chicken and mushrooms.

Bordeaux Blend: This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc is perfect for sauces and stews.

Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG: This medium-bodied Italian wine with its cherry and herb notes is perfect for tomato-based sauces and braised meats.

Syrah/Shiraz: This full-bodied wine with its spicy notes is perfect for grilled meats and rich stews.

Beaujolais: This light-bodied red wine with its fruity and floral notes is perfect for poultry and fish dishes.

Zinfandel/Primitivo: This full-bodied wine with its jammy fruit notes is perfect for hearty meat dishes like beef stew.

Merlot: This medium-bodied wine with its red fruit notes is perfect for dishes with mild flavours like pork and mushrooms.

Nebbiolo: This full-bodied Italian wine with its tannic and floral notes is perfect for rich tomato-based sauces and grilled meats.

Tempranillo: This full-bodied Spanish wine with its berry and oak notes is perfect for beef and lamb dishes.

How to Choose the Right Red Wine for Cooking

Consider the Flavour Profile You Want

If you're cooking a dish with bold flavours, choose a full-bodied red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah. If you're cooking a dish with milder flavours, choose a lighter red wine like Pinot Noir or Beaujolais.

The Type of Cuisine You Will Be Cooking

Different cuisines pair better with different types of wine. For example, Italian cuisine pairs well with Chianti, while Spanish cuisine pairs well with Tempranillo.

Consider the Red Wine's Acidity Level

If you're cooking a dish with acidic ingredients like tomatoes, choose a red wine with higher acidity like Chianti or Nebbiolo.

Pay Attention to Red Wines With Added Ingredients

Some red wines for cooking have added ingredients like herbs or spices, which can be a great way to add extra flavour to your dish.

7 Basic Tips for Using Red Wines for Cooking

  1. Never use a wine for cooking that you wouldn't drink. Using high-quality wine will ensure that your dish has a better flavour.
  2. Use wine in moderation. Adding too much wine can overpower the dish and ruin its flavour.
  3. Add wine early in the cooking process to allow it to cook down and infuse the dish with flavour.
  4. Don't cook the wine for too long. While it's important to add the wine early in the cooking process, you don't want to cook it for too long. Overcooking the wine can cause it to become bitter or lose its flavour. Generally, you should cook the wine for 5-10 minutes before adding other ingredients.
  5. Use a wine that fits your budget. While it's important to use a wine that you would drink, you don't need to use an expensive bottle of wine for cooking. Look for a wine that fits your budget and has the flavour profile that you are looking for.
  6. Experiment with different wines. Don't be afraid to try different types of red wine in your cooking. You may discover a new favourite that adds a unique flavour to your dishes.
  7. Store wine properly. If you have leftover wine from a recipe, be sure to store it properly to maintain its flavour. Store opened red wine in the refrigerator and use it within a few days. You can also freeze leftover wine in ice cube trays and use it for future recipes.


In conclusion, using red wine in cooking can elevate your dishes and add an extra layer of flavour and complexity that other ingredients simply cannot provide. With this guide to the 10 best red wines for cooking, even beginner wine cookers can feel confident in choosing the perfect wine for their dish.

Remember to consider the flavour profile you want, the type of cuisine you will be cooking, and the red wine's acidity level when choosing a wine. And always use high-quality wine in moderation, adding it early in the cooking process to allow it to cook down and infuse your dish with its delicious flavour.

With these tips and the right red wine, you're sure to create a dish that will impress even the most discerning palate. So go ahead and experiment with different varieties and find your favourite red wine for cooking.

Happy cooking!