[Sca-cooks] Sca-cooks Digest, Vol 6, Issue 81

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius.magister at verizon.net
Mon Oct 30 11:32:42 PST 2006

On Oct 30, 2006, at 1:28 PM, Jadwiga Zajaczkowa / Jenne Heise wrote:

>> Every thing I have heard about useing wine to cook with is if you  
>> would not
>> drink it don't cook with it.
> This is one of those things that bugs me. I generally don't drink wine
> for pleasure, and when I do, I only drink a small handful of types.  
> That
> makes this rule not useful for me.

I can see why, but for most people it's a pretty good rule, and then  
there's the fact that it's a modern rule based on the principles of a  
fairly modern gastronomic approach. Wine is there, when it is there,  
to enhance the quality of a meal, but not to compensate for any  
weaknesses it may display. In general, if the meal is such that you  
either want to get drunk while tackling it or need the wine to help  
slide it down your throat, you've got more trouble than a glass of  
wine will fix.

On the other hand, if you simply don't like wine enough to feel  
comfortable drinking and experimenting with enough of it to acquire a  
frame of reference, then yes, you might have trouble applying this  
rule. But that doesn't make it a bad rule, per se. Even the original  
poster was asking for advice, which would presumably be based on  
others' frames of reference.

> I also wonder if a medieval steward would agree with the idea? I  
> kind of
> suspect not, but it is only conjecture.

Probably not, at least not to the full extent you're seeing here.  
Certainly there's a lot of period stuff about bad wine and what you  
can do to fix it, Biblical references to using the good stuff first  
when everyone can taste it and the cheap stuff later when everybody's  
good and sloshed, which _may_ in part reflect the opinions of some  
relatively modern translators, and also some period condemnation for  
those wealthy enough to have good cellars, but who don't keep decent  
wines on hand -- was it Richard II about whom it was said his  
standard offering was better to be strained through the teeth than  
tasted in the mouth? Clearly less-than-stellar wine was known and had  
its uses, but when you think about some of the bottling and other  
production technology changes wrought in the 17th century, you sort  
of have to figure that these were changes in the vintning industry/ 
occupation, essentially milestones in the path the field was already  
taking. It's probably less of an egregious violation of authenticity,  
if authenticity is a concern, to use a better wine than you need than  
to use one worse than you need.

It's possible that there's a greater range of quality available to  
us, as wine buyers who don't necessarily live in wine country,  
between recent preservation, packaging, and transportation methods.  
Lots of people don't realize that a lot of French vin ordinaire is  
sold in plastic or waxed paper cartons like milk in the supermarket,  
in France. This is not the best wine by any means.

However, it still may be somewhat better than the lowest of the low  
sold in boxes here.


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