Red wine in your Bolognese sauce is an incredible flavor enhancer. Yup, the secret is out! The wine itself does not give the sauce a different taste. Instead, it brings out the distinct flavors of other ingredients, something that plain water or broth cannot provide to your dish.
The wine is an excellent complement to the highly acidic nature of tomato sauce. It balances out the tanginess. At the same time, it enhances the flavor profile, making it richer and more robust.
When cooking with wine, you can not just go straight and buy any wine you please. The cheapest or the most expensive won’t do justice to your bolognese if you choose the wrong kind of wine. So, to avoid wasting your pasta, we have scoured the market for the five best red wines for cooking the perfect Bolognese pasta sauce.
Is Red Cooking Wine Necessary for Cooking Bolognese?
For novice cooks, you might ask, “Do you need red wine to cook bolognese?”
The short answer is “NO!”
Yup, red wine is not an obligatory ingredient in cooking bolognese pasta. In other words, you can quickly get away with whipping up the sauce without wine or any alcohol.
BUT, let me tell you this, you are missing the key ingredient for a classic bolognese pasta! The red wine will make your sauce a whole lot better for the following primary reasons:
- It gives the bolognese sauce an authentic taste.
- Adds depth to tomato-based pasta sauces.
- If you are cooking with meat, the acid in the wine will help cook and tenderize it.
So yes, red wine is not an absolute requirement, but your bolognese pasta won’t taste the best either. Are you willing to sacrifice your palate for that?
5 Types of Red Wine For Bolognese Sauce
There are plenty of red wines for bolognese pasta sauce. Aside from the usual alcoholic ones, we have included other varieties to give you more alternative options.
As they say, cook wine you would be willing to drink. Well, this is quite true for Acrobat’s Oregon Pinot Noir. Acrobat crafted this wine to deliver a modest alcohol level of 13.5% and a refreshingly bright acidity that you can enjoy drinking and cooking with.
The wine has a rich aroma and flavor of ripe berries, followed by its tannins’ spicy and earthy taste. This wine’s low alcohol and sugar content make it a good complement for cooking meats, especially beef, in the bolognese sauce. This medium-bodied wine perfectly enriches the flavor and texture of the tomato-based sauce.
I love this wine because it tastes like premium wine, yet it is very affordable. I enjoy drinking a glass or two of this while cooking my bolognese pasta. And it does marry well with the ingredients and elevates the sauce’s flavor. Just make sure to add enough for the meat to absorb all the goodness of the wine.
This almost non-alcoholic red wine is a perfect choice if you are cooking for people who follow strict alcohol restrictions. That can include pregnant and breastfeeding moms, people with alcohol intolerance, heart conditions, taking certain medications, etc. This wine only contains less than one-half of 1% alcohol per volume. Thus, it makes this wine a safe ingredient to incorporate into your bolognese pasta sauce.
Despite the lack of alcohol, this Cabernet Sauvignon still imparts that bold flavor of black currants, cherries, blueberries, and a hint of chocolate. The tannins in this wine remain intact too. Hence, they are great for tenderizing red meat. So, whether you are using pork or beef in your recipe, this wine will allow all the natural flavors to surface.
The Ariel dealcoholized Cabernet Sauvignon is my go-to non-alcoholic wine for cooking tomato-based pasta sauces with plenty of meat. It does serve the same purpose as the usual alcoholic wines. But the best part about it is that it is safe and alcohol-free.
If you want the full-bodied flavor of Chianti red wine but without the alcohol, then this Monini Chianti Red Wine Vinegar is the way to go. Red wine vinegar is another excellent alternative for non-alcoholic wines. This cooking vinegar adds pleasant acidity and dissolves fats more effectively, thus enhancing the flavor of the meat and the tomato sauce.
The Monini Red Wine Vinegar contains about 7% acidity. It would help if you had this acidity to match the natural edge of the tomato sauce too. Otherwise, it will not help bring out the distinct flavors of the ingredients.
We love how much tartness it adds to the bolognese sauce. A little goes a long way. So, that’s a plus for those who want to be thrifty yet still enjoy good food. However, be mindful that this product contains sulfites.
The Monini Chianti red wine vinegar is labeled as D.O.C.G. D.O.C.G stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita. The certification implies that this product attained the highest classification of Italian wines. So, you can guarantee that you will get nothing less than a premium-quality wine from this bottle.
The Holland House Red Cooking Wine is a red wine made especially for cooking. It is essentially red wine blended with distilled alcohol to improve the flavor of your dish further. That said, be mindful when cooking for individuals with alcohol restrictions.
Red cooking wine delivers that same full-bodied red wine flavor. However, Holland House crafted this red cooking wine to accommodate cooking at high temperatures. This product makes it the perfect wine for cooking bolognese pasta in a slow cooker.
Most would agree that slow cooking is the best way to cook your pasta. Heating it low and slow gives time for the tomato sauce to sweeten up, the meat to tenderize, the veggies to soften, and the herbs and spices to release all their flavors.
Although it has alcohol, the quality is not on par with actual red wine beverages. Then again, it is still a good staple in your kitchen pantry. I like how they are more accessible in your grocery aisles. So, if you are unsure what variety of red wine to choose for bolognese, the cooking wine is a no-fail choice.
This premium red merlot is another dealcoholized version of red wine. Lussory makes this wine from merlot grapes processed traditionally like regular wine. The only difference is that the alcohol content is reduced to almost 0% to maintain the complexity of the product’s flavor.
Lussory Premium Merlot Red Wine has a deep ruby color with rich fruity and vanilla notes. This variety of wine is less acidic. Hence, it will less likely bring out the boldness of the tomato base. However, it will make your bolognese sauce smoother and still very flavorful.
I love the fruitiness this wine brings to the sauce. It gives it an extra oomph that is lighter and more refreshing to the palate. It is also a healthier option. Aside from being alcohol-free, it contains very minimal sodium, unlike regular red cooking wines.
When to add red cooking wine to bolognese sauce?
Ideally, it is best to add wine to the sauce after the meat and veggies are simmering and almost cooked. You can slowly pour the wine into the sauce. Please put it on high heat and let it simmer for about a minute or two. Give time for the wine to infuse into the ingredients and let the alcohol evaporate. Note that alcohol starts to dissipate when the temperature reaches 172°F.
After the wine has reduced, turn down the heat back to medium. You can now add tomato sauce and other seasonings. Please give it a good stir to coat all the ingredients evenly. Let it boil softly. Then, gradually decrease the heat to the lowest setting. Cook the bolognese sauce partially covered. Make sure to stir occasionally.
Final Thoughts On Using Red Cooking Wine For Bolognese Sauce:
Cooking bolognese sauce with red wine can be intimidating, especially for novice cooks. There are many types of red wine. And so, finding the right one can easily overwhelm you. Nevertheless, whatever kind of wine you choose to use, be comforted with the idea that it aims to enrich the flavor of your ingredients. Hence, this makes your dish more authentic and extra special.
I hope that this article serves as your essential guide. Just follow my tips and recommendations. And, for sure, you are a step closer to cooking the perfect bolognese pasta.