Grocery Store Tramp: Cooking Wine

Want to get under my skin? Declare yourself a “Wine Snob”. Ugh, it bugs me just writing it.

Wine Snob. What does that even mean anyway? I’ve rolled it around for a while and I have come to the following conclusions:

You want me to know that you know a lot about wine. Why do you want me to know this? Should I be immediately impressed with your alleged knowledge of nose, finish, and tannins? Why don’t you just shut up and use your knowledge to order a great bottle or offer me a glass of something good?

You want me to know that there are certain wines that you refuse to drink based on price, vintage, region, etc. I am assuming that when a “Wine Snob” excludes certain wines from consumption that she has tried the excluded wines. Well, “Wine Snob”, if you are excluding wines based on trying them, then ultimately you’re just drinking what you like…and that’s what most people do anyway. No points for you, honey.

And if you haven’t tried what you’ve excluded, then you are missing out – there are great wines at all price points from many regions. If you knew anything about wine, you would know that.


I absolutely cannot stand people who declare themselves “Wine Snobs” so if that’s you, knock it off.

As for snobbery, I’m not innocent. I’m an ingredient snob (see Mise en place where I explain what that means) so there is one exception to my wine snob rule: cooking wine. Cooking Wine

(Image retrieved from because I don’t own this stuff.)

There are certain ingredients that I will not allow to hop in my grocery bag. In a past post, I gave you five of my grocery store tramps. A grocery store tramp is an item that is flashy, quick, convenient, and ultimately disappointing.

I will not cook with cooking wine. Do you want to know why anyone of any age can buy cooking wine? Because by law, it needs to be produced as an undrinkable product. Go read the labels of cooking wines in the grocery store and you will see things additions like salt, msg, etc. Salt in wine? Gross!

When a recipe calls for wine, take it seriously. The recipe is calling for the flavor that comes from wine and not the alcohol in the wine (it cooks off). Because you are using wine purely for flavor, don’t mess around with a poorly flavored thing like cooking wine. If you don’t ruin your dish, you will seriously impact the quality.

Maybe some of you use cooking wine because you don’t drink wine and it makes sense to have a product that has a long shelf life. To you, I offer a couple of options: a split or half bottle will give you real wine in a smaller quantity. Also, there are those little four packs where you only need to use a bottle or two at time. Don’t turn your nose up at the quality – it’s decent wine and anything is better than cooking wine.

Also, I would submit to you that you can grab a decent dry red or white for between $7-$10 dollars and maybe even less. This small investment will pay off in your dish.

Finally, if you open a bottle and don’t finish it…you can always store it for later use. Here’s a great little guide for storing open bottles.

Remember, the grocery store tramp never stands up to the real deal. Don’t let the tramp jump in your bag.

Ali Wechman

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