The Old Colony Club goes through great quantities of wine, so we are careful to select the right wine for the purpose. On this page you will find information about selecting a wine for cooking, for dining, or for drinking without a meal.
Wines for cooking should be good enough to drink on their own, but need not be the finest in the cellar. Wine in a dish serves many purposes, but intoxication is not one of them - some of the alcohol evaporates in cooking, and if you can taste the wine then you probably used too much. When used to deglaze a pan in which a meat was cooked, the alcohol in wine helps to release all the flavor and to marry together the fats and the juices in a dish. The essences of herbs become more accessible and pronounced when there is wine in the dish.
Most recipes that call for wines require either a dry white wine or a dry red wine; sweet wines are seldom required for cooking. Inexpensive but palatable dry white wines are not hard to find, but you may need to do some tasting to find one you like. Among the California varietals, look for a Chardonnay for rich dishes or a Sauvignon Blanc to use in lighter fare. There are many good French vins ordinaire suitable for cooking, especially those from Bordeaux. Italy produces an astonishing array of white wines, some of which are really too sweet for cooking, but you cannot go wrong with an inexpensive Trebbiano d'Abruzzo.
In a pinch, or in a concentrated, rich dish, you can use dry vermouth in place of white wine.
Dry red wines are easier to find, simply because more red wines are dry. For California varietals, a cabernet sauvignon is a good bet. Merlot and Pinot Noir, while good with many foods, are rarely dry enough for most recipes. For French reds, once again Bordeaux provides many inexpensive dry reds that are excellent for cooking with. Inexpensive dry red Italians include Chianti and Montepulciano d'Abruzzo.