The BEST Red Wines for Cooking (13+ Great Options)

Cooking a dish that calls for dry red wine as an ingredient? Wondering what the best red wines for cooking are? We’ve got you covered! Here are 13+ of the BEST red wines to cook with.

Choosing the perfect red wine for cooking can elevate your dish to a whole new level. While taste is subjective, some varietals offer specific qualities that enhance different dishes. Here are some of the best red wines for cooking.

Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Pros: Bold and full-bodied with notes of black currant, cherry, and spice. Pairs well with red meat, stews, and braises.
  • Cons: High tannins can make it bitter if overcooked.
  • Try it In: Instant Pot Beef Stew or Steak with Red Wine Sauce.

Merlot

  • Pros: Smooth and elegant with notes of plum, blackberry, and chocolate. Versatile and works well with poultry, pasta, and vegetables.
  • Cons: Can lack the complexity of other options.
  • Try it In: Bordelaise Sauce.
Bottle of red wine laying on counter.

Pinot Noir

  • Pros: Light-bodied and fruity with notes of raspberry, strawberry, and earth. Perfect for delicate dishes like fish and chicken.
  • Cons: Higher acidity than other reds, not suitable for long cooking times.
  • Try it In: Pork Chops with Cherry Sauce.

Zinfandel

  • Pros: Fruity and spicy with notes of blackberry, plum, and pepper. Ideal for BBQ, ribs, and roasted vegetables.
  • Cons: High alcohol content can overwhelm some dishes.
  • Try it In: Smoked Beef Short Ribs.
At Lenné Estate, located outside of Yamhill, Oregon, you'll find their Pinot Noir to have a beautiful and distinct mocha aroma and silky texture | platingsandpairings.com

Shiraz/Syrah

Chianti

  • Pros: Dry and acidic with notes of cherry, plum, and earth. Pairs well with pasta dishes, pizzas, and tomato-based sauces.
  • Cons: Can be slightly bitter, especially when young.
  • Try it In: Instant Pot Pot Roast.

Tempranillo

  • Pros: Medium-bodied and fruity with notes of red fruit, leather, and tobacco. Excellent for grilled meats, paella, and tapas.
  • Cons: Can be difficult to find outside of Spain.
  • Try it In: Red Wine Burgers.
Close up of red wine bottle labels.

Other dry red wines for cooking

  • Malbec: Argentinian varietal known for its dark fruit and savory notes, good for grilled steaks.
  • Grenache: Rhône varietal known for its light body and spicy aromas, works well with poultry and vegetables.
  • Sangiovese: Italian varietal known for its acidity and cherry notes, perfect for tomato-based dishes.
  • Bordeaux: French blend known for its complexity and elegance, adds depth to stews and braises.
  • Nebbiolo: This Italian grape is known for its complex aromas of tar, rose, and leather. Its high tannins and acidity make it a perfect companion for rich, fatty dishes like game or braised meats.
  • Carmenere: A Chilean grape delivering ripe fruit notes and subtle spice. A good choice for grilled meats and pasta dishes.
  • Red Blends: Combining different red varietals can create unique and flavorful wines perfect for specific dishes.
Bottle of red wine next to glass of wine.

Tips

  • Choose wines that are dry and not too sweet.
  • Avoid wines with strong oak flavors, as these can overpower the other flavors in your dish.
  • Consider the acidity of your wine. High-acid wines, like Pinot Noir and Sangiovese, can help to brighten up dishes, while lower-acid wines, like Malbec and Grenache, can add richness.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment! There are many different types of dry red wines that can be used for cooking.
  • You don’t have to use expensive wines for cooking. Look for affordable options that are still good quality.

Ultimately, the best red wine for cooking is the one that complements your dish and your personal taste. So, don’t be afraid to experiment and have fun!

Note: Here are the 13+ best white wines for cooking too!

Collage of red wines with text overlay.

The BEST Red Wines for Cooking: Red Wine Sauce

Cooking a dish that calls for dry red wine as an ingredient? Wondering what the best red wines for cooking are? We’ve got you covered! Here are 13+ of the BEST red wines to cook with. Try one in this reduced Red Wine Sauce. This classic French steak sauce is ideal for beef tenderloin, filet mignon, and other juicy cuts of premium beef, lamb, pork, and game meats.
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients

Instructions

  • To a small saucepan, add wine, shallots, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until the mixture reduces by half, about 10 minutes.
  • Add the broth and bring to a boil again. Continue cooking until this mixture reduces by half, 15-20 minutes.
  • Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer and discard the solids. Return the strained sauce to the saucepan and heat over medium-low heat.
  • In a small bowl, combine the melted butter and flour until smooth. Add this mixture to the saucepan and whisk until thickened. Enjoy immediately.

Notes

You can make red wine reduction up to 4 days ahead of time. Store it in an airtight container in the fridge until it’s time to reheat and serve.
It also freezes well for up to 6 months. Thaw the frozen sauce in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @platingsandpairings or tag #platingsandpairings!

Nutrition

Calories: 228kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 11mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 16IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 7mg | Iron: 1mg

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