7 Best Red Wines for Cooking


“I cook with wine, sometimes I add it to the food” is one of the funniest wine jokes there is. A hearty meal is never complete without a glass of chilled wine to complement it. Some people even became fond of pairing wine with cheese or pairing wine with desserts. But aside from these food pairings, you can also try to enjoy your favorite wine by cooking your favorite dish using it.

With the wide variety of red wine in the market, it showcases different flavors, boldness, spice level, aroma, and sweetness. That is why it is important to know the characteristics of red wine before using it for cooking. Here, we are sharing some recipes and the best red wines to cook it with.

Red Wines for Cooking and Recipes

Cabernet Sauvignon for Pasta and Stew

This red wine is known for the hint of spice of olives and bell pepper in between the flavors of black cherry, cassis and herbs. Aside from it being a perfect match to savory dishes, it makes it a perfect addition to equally saucy and flavorful pasta dishes such as Bolognese and beef stroganoff and main dishes such as beef or lamb stew.

Merlot for Risotto

It kinda had a rhyme but the match between merlot and risotto is unmistakable. For people who prefer to enjoy their risotto with wild rice, wild mushrooms and a lot of herbs, the fruity flavors of strawberry, cherry, plum and watermelon in merlot can tone down the complexity of earthy aroma and flavor in the food. Try adding merlot after sauteeing your wild mushroom and chicken breast and slightly reduce the alcohol to bring out its fruity flavors.

Malbec for Tapas

Tapas are Spanish dishes served in small portions intended to be matched with a liquor of your choice. One of the top choices for tapas is Chorizo but it can be too overpowering for some and can get saltier when cooked. Before cooking the Chorizo, marinate it in Malbec overnight. This can remove the salty taste and can leave a twist of sour cherry and spice in the chorizo making it a perfect DIY bar chow. Slice the chorizo and fry it in olive oil and mix the remaining marinade for added flavor.

Shiraz for Steak

Nothing matches a perfect steak better than a perfect wine and a perfect sauce but if you can make that sauce out of red wine, then nothing beats that. Once you are done searing your steak on both sides, cooking it on your preferred doneness, remove it from the pan and using the

steak’s natural oil, saute garlic, and add wine to deglaze the pan and soften the meat residue on the pan. Reduce the alcohol a bit before adding water, salt, soy sauce, pepper, butter and a little cornstarch. Sprinkle fresh parsley or mint leaves. The deep and bold tasted of Shiraz making it perfect for the smokey flavors of the steak.

Pinot Noir Butter Sauce for Roasted Chicken

Before roasting or broiling your chicken, plan how you can save some of its juice for the sauce. When your chicken is cooked and when you have set aside the juice, saute garlic and onions, once the onions caramelized, add Pinot Noir. Let the flavors develop and let the alcohol reduce then add a half cup of water and 1/4 cup of butter. Pinot noir brings out the herby, earthy and tangy flavor in this sauce, a perfect glaze for a light dish like roasted chicken.

Red Moscato for Chicken Teriyaki

This Asian dish is usually cooked with rice wine and sugar. If you are not a fan of using sugar in your dishes, why not replace these two ingredients with red Moscato. Marinate your chicken in soy sauce, pepper, garlic and red Moscato. Stir fry or grill the marinated chicken while sauteeing garlic and onion in a pan. Add the marinade and cook until it is reduced in half and slightly thick. Add the chicken and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Zinfandel as Barbecue Marinade

Liven up your usual barbecue marinade by mixing Zinfandel or Zins in it. You can choose between light, medium or full-bodied Zins and adjust the spice level of your marinade in it. The lighter bodied it is, the sweeter flavor it can give your barbecue marinade. It can also let the flavors stick better in the meat making it softer and juicers when grilled. Zinfandel has flavors of raspberry, raisins, blackberry, cherry, and prunes.


This cheat sheet is designed for all types of home cooks, whether you are a beginner or a seasoned home cook. Exploring various recipes and your favorite dishes with one of the world’s favorite drinks is never a bad idea. Cook with your heart, with passion and dedication and you will surely never go wrong. Who knows you will enjoy cooking with wine and then sipping some too.


Usman Raza is a freelance writer, marketing specialist at WhiskMatcha.com and co-founder of Usman Digital Media. When not working, he’s probably spending time with his family. Follow him on Facebook @usmanraza40 and Twitter @usmanintrotech.