Since our fantastic week in Napa, I've been on a bit of a wine kick. I found the whole environment very inspiring despite having to go into a week of detox when we returned. I'm only just easing back into the Cabernets now.
I just wanted a quick show of hands... Tell me if you've ever fallen into this trap before? I know I certainly have. You've opened a bottle of wine only to find you hate it. You feel like you've rinsed your mouth with battery acid. And despite trying to persevere with said bottle, you just can't drink it. It could be for a number of reasons - you just don't like that type of wine, it was a bad year, and maybe, it could just actually be a bad bottle.
So, what are you going to do with it?
Your sense of frugalness kicks in. It'd be crazy to tip a perfect good (or, in this case, bad) bottle of wine down the drain, wouldn't it? You have this brilliant idea... it could be "cooking wine".
A word of advice from someone who has been down this road before with some very unpleasant experiences - DON'T DO IT! If you don't like drinking it, you don't want to cook with it. When you cook with wine it distills down into a concentrated form, so now you have a distilled form of the wine you hated in the first place and it's flavoring your food.
If you do need to cook with wine, always choose a wine you like to drink. Better yet, use the same wine you are going to be serving with the meal.
As a side note - you might have seen bottles of liquid in your grocery store labeled as "cooking wine". They come in various varieties, from white or red, alcoholic or nonalcoholic. If you see these, please walk in the other direction as quickly as possible. They have a reputation for being particularly nasty and you honestly don't want to ruin a perfectly delicious recipe by using them.