Why You Should Avoid Cooking With Shiraz

While red wine is delicious to drink on its own, it can also be a fantastic ingredient for creating tasty recipes. Mussels, steak, and tons of other meals pair perfectly with a red wine sauce, for example, and the alcoholic beverage helps bring out unique flavors in these meals.

One red wine that many people cook with is shiraz, a wine that originally comes from the Rhone Valley in France. This red-skinned grape variety is grown around the world, but Australia dominates the shiraz market, producing more of this wine than any other country. The grapes, when made into wine, produce a slightly sweet, juicy liquor that has notes of fruit and pepper.

Despite shiraz's great taste, however, it may not be the right wine for using in your next recipe. Here's why you should avoid cooking with shiraz, and what wines you can use instead to still get a great-tasting dish.

What makes shiraz the wrong cooking wine

One of the main reasons why shiraz isn't the best wine for creating great recipes is because it has a lot of tannins in it. Tannins are a type of polyphenol found in grape skins which give wines that full-bodied flavor that so many people know and love. They also tend to make wines taste more bitter and more astringent, and can also give the wine a darker color.

Unfortunately, although those tannins can make these wines great to drink, when you add them to food, they can make the flavor become too bitter. Or, they can also give your food a chalky aftertaste and ruin the dish.

Of course, shiraz isn't the only type of wine with high tannin content. Other blends such as Barolo, cabernet sauvignon, nebbiolo, and Barbaresco, to name a few, also have a lot of tannins which can start to make your meals taste odd.

The best red wines for cooking

Since you shouldn't necessarily be cooking with shiraz, that leaves the question, "What red wines can I cook with?" One red wine that's great for cooking is merlot. Merlots, unlike shirazes, are pretty low in tannins, meaning your food won't turn bitter if you add this blend to your recipe. These wines are quite dry, with notes of tobacco and chocolate. Merlots work well for everything from sauces to steak and lamb, making them very versatile blends for cooking.

Another great red wine you can use for cooking is pinot noir. Pinot noirs are acidic wines with low tannin content. They tend to be very smooth with a velvety finish and have notes of red fruit. Pinot noir has tenderizing properties, which means that it can pair particularly well with fatty meals. If you want to cook with pinot noir, you might want to use it for salmon or fatty beef.