What Is Red Cooking Wine?

Want to kick up the taste of your favorite dishes? Adding cooking wine to a well-loved recipe can enhance the flavor and make the meal. Wine is known to bring out tastes that you would otherwise miss. According to the Pompeian brand, wine has been considered one of the essential ingredients in cooking since the earliest recorded history.


Red cooking wine is an inexpensive, commercially processed wine used with beef, lamb, duck, meat stews, meat sauces, fruit sauces and other meats as they are cooking. Red cooking wine balances both the aroma and the natural flavors occurring in food.


When a bottle of red cooking wine is opened and the wine is exposed to oxygen, a fermentative process transforms the alcohol into an acetic acid known as wine vinegar. The salt in red cooking wine stops the growth of the acetic acid so no microorganisms are produced and the wine vinegar doesn't spoil. This preservation is important, because a bottle of red cooking wine may be opened and used over and over again. Red cooking wine can be kept in your kitchen for up to one year after you open it.


Red cooking wine is only for cooking. It is not made for drinking, and it does not contain alcohol. If alcohol was present, it would evaporate during cooking. Red cooking wine can also be used as a tenderizer, a soaking agent, a base for a sauce or stock in a pan, and as a finishing ingredient to provide a subtle sweetness to the food.


Red cooking wine contains about 1 teaspoon of salt for every 8 ounces of wine. Read the recipe for your dish and consider adding less salt than it calls for if you are using red cooking wine. You can always add more salt later, but you won't be able to take any away.

Cooking Tip

Red cooking wine should be added to your dish or sauce as it is cooking. Do not add at the end or when the dish or sauce is on the table. If the wine is added too late, its taste may be harsh.