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wines and spirits

lululiz's picture

I don't drink any alcohol but like to cook with it. The problem is that because I don't drink, I end up throwing away a lot of bottles of wine! I have a question for you cooks who know about alcohol: How long do bottles of sherry and madeira last? Do they have to be refrigerated? And what is the difference between the sherries? I've seen recipes that call for cream sherry and dry. Thanks for your help!

TracyK's picture

(post #36086, reply #1 of 20)

I don't drink white wine, so for cooking purposes I buy cheapish white wine in four-packs of single-serving bottles. Usually pinot grigio.


You can also freeze wine for cooking purposes, if you have most of a bottle let over. Good to freeze 1/2 cup portions in a muffin tin or something, then you can store the frozen disks in a ziploc bag.


I don't know much about sherry, but the one I have (which is dry sherry), I've had for a looooong time. Probably wouldn't be good for drinking, but it does seem to work fine in cooking.


CT poster in bad standing since 2000.

lululiz's picture

(post #36086, reply #2 of 20)

Thanks! I had never thought of freezing wine.

ashleyd's picture

(post #36086, reply #3 of 20)

To add to Tracy's excellent advice sherry or Madeira will last several months in a cool dark place, certainly for cooking purposes. Sweet sherries and Madeiras seem to last longer, it generally doesn't go "off" just loses flavour components, so after a while they will not be much use when you want the flavour component, but if you're just using them in reductions and deglazing they can be used for a year or more after opening.


Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

Gary's picture

(post #36086, reply #4 of 20)

http://forums.taunton.com/tp-cookstalk/messages?msg=40326.5

The people who gave us golf and called it a game are the same people who gave us bag pipes and called it music and haggis and called it food.

BonnieinHolland's picture

(post #36086, reply #5 of 20)

Madeira is already oxidized (due to the process by which it is made), so an open bottle remains perfectly good for up to six months.  (We're talking real Madeira here, not the 'cooking' Madeira.)  Sherry is also a fortified wine, like Madeira, but loses its flavor components fairly rapidly -- after a week or two of being opened.  So I definitely disagree with the folks who say that it can stay open for a long time.  In any case, it should definitely be kept in the fridge.  Cream sherries have added sugars and are very sweet.  Medium dry sherries have some residual sugars, and so are just a touch sweet ('medium sweet').  (This is what recipes usually call for.) Kind of in the 'medium dry' category are the Amontillado sherries - Oloroso is a touch drier.  (It all depends on the producer and what you're buying.)  Then there are the dry sherries - that's Fino (like the Tio Pepe brand) and Manzanilla.  These are extremely dry and a touch salty.  Think of a high-alcohol white wine.  You know, a good solution for me with cooking is to buy half-bottles of wine instead of whole bottles.  cheers, Bonnie

TracyK's picture

(post #36086, reply #6 of 20)

I don't think I've purchased a new bottle of sherry in two years, and my recipes turn out fine. Not saying they couldn't possibly have more depth of flavor, but I don't notice a lack of flavor.

CT poster in bad standing since 2000.

lululiz's picture

(post #36086, reply #7 of 20)

Thanks, Bonnie, and to others who responded. Last night I used some cream sherry that I've had for about 6 months. It seemed fine (but not being a drinker, what do I know?!) I appreciate the sherry and madeira primer. I do buy the smallest quantities I can find, but I doubt I'll ever use up any of these bottles. That's okay, though; the extra price is worth the flavor!

Gretchen's picture

(post #36086, reply #8 of 20)

For cooking purposes I don't buy an expensive sherry, madiera or marsala. And I have kept them for a good while, although marsala gets gone pretty quickly.

Gretchen

Gretchen
bonnieruth's picture

(post #36086, reply #9 of 20)

So can you freeze Sherry too?  I hate to think how long I have had mine.

Marie Louise's picture

(post #36086, reply #10 of 20)

Julia Child suggests vermouth as a substitute for white wine. I like the complexity that vermouth adds-and it keeps in the fridge for months.

sassman's picture

(post #36086, reply #11 of 20)

When is it appropriate to use sweet vermouth vs dry vermouth.
Are they interchangable?

Marcia's picture

(post #36086, reply #12 of 20)

No, sweet vermouth is sweet as the name implies, and is not a suitable substitute for dry white wine which most recipes call for. It might be appropriate for some dessert recipes, and while I've never seen any, I'm not much into desserts.

I keep dry vermouth in the refrigerator just as Marie Louise does, and I learned to to it from Julia Child, also. Works very well for us.

Marie Louise's picture

(post #36086, reply #13 of 20)

I only use sweet vermouth for cocktails.

Marcia's picture

(post #36086, reply #14 of 20)

Did you know that the original martini used sweet vermouth? How times change.

Marie Louise's picture

(post #36086, reply #15 of 20)

Not only did I know that, I made one of those the other night. (It is called a Martinez.) I didn't like it that much...

Marcia's picture

(post #36086, reply #16 of 20)

I've never have one -- all that gin and sweet vermouth - it wouldn't be to my taste, either. The Martinez name must be something new (relatively speaking), since it was just the way one made a martini.

Funny, now they call all sorts of concoctions martinis, and the original is a Martinez. Oh, the irony. LOL

Gretchen's picture

(post #36086, reply #17 of 20)

They can call all those things "martinis" but they AIN'T!!

Gretchen

Gretchen
Marcia's picture

(post #36086, reply #18 of 20)

I do agree. :)

bonnieruth's picture

(post #36086, reply #19 of 20)

I didn't know Julia Child had suggested it, but I have often used vermouth to substitute for white wine when I didn't have any white wine.  I thought it was my own invention, figured whatever flavor chemicals are soluble in alcohol would do just as well in vermouth.  I can't say I could tell the difference in flavor from when I used wine, though.  Maybe my tastes are not as discriminating.

wonka's picture

(post #36086, reply #20 of 20)

Thanks for asking the question. I don't drink either and didn't look at this post because I don't drink. Glad I finally checked it out.