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Dear Dr. Vinny,
Is it appropriate to cook with "corked" or otherwise spoiled wine?
—Alex, Elkhart, Ind.
When cooking with wine, I follow a couple of guidelines. First off, I tend to cook with either exactly what I'm drinking with the meal (if it's only a splash or two), or with something in a similar vein so that the flavors will complement each other. Secondly, I only cook with wine that I would drink; cooking doesn't magically improve the quality of a wine.
This means I avoid oxidized wines, wines afflicted by "cork taint" (the chemical compound TCA, or 2,4,6-trichloroanisole) or otherwise flawed wines. I've heard some people say that that some of these flaws break down with heat, or combine to fat molecules and become unnoticeable. But why risk it? Often when cooking with wine, the alcohol evaporates and all that's left is the essence of the wine's flavor, so I usually go for fruitier wines, and there are plenty of affordable options out there.
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