Name:2005 VRAC Côtes du Rhône
Price: $6.99 to $9.99
I found a great wine for braising! Fruity, light and fresh, an easy wine made in a traditional French countryside style. In fact, the term "en vrac" means bring your own bottle, in many French villages locals will bring bottles or jugs to a nearby winery and fill them up with an easy drinking wine to use as their house wine. The 2005 VRAC Côtes du Rhône was just this, unpretentious, easy drinking and very inexpensive, the perfect wine for my braised chicken recipe, not bad to sip either.
Yesterday's New York Times article on cooking wine was timely, and I agree with them, for the most part. Unless you have money growing on trees, using expensive wine for cooking is not a great idea. That said, not all cheap wine is great for cooking either. Wines with strong flavors, too much oak, tannin and acid can affect the flavor of your meal. In a broad generalization, I stay away from Australian wines or South American wines for cooking as they tend towards the oakier side and sometimes have healthy tannin and acid manipulations.
Personally, I want something clean and pure for both my pan and my glass, so I was excited to discover the 2005 VRAC Côtes du Rhône. This light-bodied wine was delicious, not only did it make an excellent red-wine braised chicken, I also wouldn't think twice about serving it to guests.
Stores:Astor Wines & Spirits $6.99 (399 Lafayette @ 4th Street), Garnet Wines $7.99 (929 Lexington Ave. btwn 68th & 69th), Zachy's $8.99 (16 East Parkway, Scarsdale), Burgundy Wine Company $9.99 (143 W. 26th St. btwn 6th & 7th Ave.)