Cheap Wine Works Fine

debunks Julia Childs’ dictum “Never cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink.” Cooking is a great leveler, removing most of the subtlety from fine wines and smoothing off the rough edges of cheaper ones.

Furthermore, “In 1961, when Mrs. Child handed down her edict in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, decent wines at the very low end of the price scale were almost impossible to find in the United States. Now, inexpensive wines flow from all over the world: a $6 bottle is often a pleasant surprise (though sometimes, still, unredeemable plonk).”

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. steve says:

    She even put in a plug for my fav wine snob pinot
    bete noir: Two-(or Three-) Buck Chuck. (They don’t make a pinot noir, but…)

  2. James Joyner says:

    I’m not a fan of the Shaw but TJ’s has several perfectly good wines in the under $10 range. I was a big fan of their house label Black Mountain wines, including an excellent pinot noir and zinfandel, but either my palate or their composition has changed radically with the most recent vintages.

  3. Anderson says:

    Of course, I’ll drink about anything, if it’s red, so I have no trouble with Child’s dictum.

  4. Dave Schuler says:

    Commercial winemaking has changed enormously since Julia made her pronouncement. Modern production techniques themselves have been enormous levellers.

    The second or third pressing wines we’re getting a low prices these days are a lot better than their comparable numbers were thirty years ago. And the entry into the market of very drinkable, very low cost Australian wines in the last fews years has put pressure on the competition.

  5. JKB says:

    We should remember that when Julia Childs issued the dictate, most Americans would reach for the cooking wine in the grocery store. Which due to the idiotic liquor laws in many states could only be sold there because it was adulterated with salt.

    I believe she was encouraging without confronting. If her comment caused some pretentious individuals to waste high price wines on cooking because they would never be caught drinking a perfectly drinkable cheap wine. Well, pretension has its price.