I don't drink... wine: Making Herb Jelly Edition
September 5, 2014 4:56 PM   Subscribe

So I'm cruising through my new Ball canning cookbook and they have recipes for herb jellies, bwee!!! They all call for a good dry white wine. I've never been a wine drinker, so I'm looking for suggestions. What are some good, dry white wines that you've drunk and/or cooked with that you would recommend for basil and rosemary jelly? Since I'm going to be canning in large amounts, I would appreciate suggestions that aren't $100/bottle.
posted by headspace to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I don't see why you can't used cheap boxed wine for this, given that you'll be altering the taste significantly anyway.
posted by Jacqueline at 5:06 PM on September 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

What is the purpose of the wine in the recipe? Is it for infusing the herbs, do you cook it down, is it going in the jelly as-is?

Personally I'd probably go with a Riesling, but I'm one of those weirdos who likes it (and it's very much a love-or-hate thing), or Gewurtztraminer. Maybe a really soft unoaked Chardonnay if you don't want the flavour of the wine to be too forward.

Honestly, your better bet is probably to go to your local wine store, ask what they'd suggest, and do some sampling; the flavour of the wine is going to come through in some way or another, so best to ensure it's something you like before committing to it.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:07 PM on September 5, 2014

I've made a jelly with wine once I think. Honestly it just has to be not-terrible wine. Are you near a Trader Joe's? Charles Shaw is probably fine or something slightly-better but not too much better. You are going to add a few cups of sugar so the main thing is to not bother with a sweet wine which will just end up tasting like not much.
posted by GuyZero at 5:09 PM on September 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

You're going to be bringing this wine to a boil for the jelly (i.e., massively altering its taste), which means you really don't need to worry about it. As long as you're not spending less than $5 for the bottle, the quality of the wine isn't going to affect your jelly.

Go to the store and ask for a decent dry white. Don't spend more than $12. Done.
posted by danny the boy at 5:10 PM on September 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't think it really matters so long as you don't pick an oaky Chardonnay or an overly sweet Riesling. Since the jelly-making process will reduce the wine, any particular taste in the wine will be intensified by reduction. If the wine is sweet to start with (like sweet Rieslings [not all Rieslings are sweet, but you can assume cheap ones are]), it'll probably make the jelly too sweet after reduction. If the wine has tannic or woody notes that don't mesh very well with basil (like oaky Chardonnays [not all Chardonnays are oaky, but you can assume cheap ones are]), you'll end up with a jelly that tastes like wood.

I'd just pick a cheap Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio - Charles Shaw or boxed wine is definitely fine. I wouldn't go for Franzia, but something like a Target 3L Wine Cube would be perfect and particularly cost-effective.
posted by saeculorum at 5:12 PM on September 5, 2014 [5 favorites]

I'd go with Pinot Grigio. It's usually inexpensive, and has a fairly neutral flavor.
posted by mkultra at 5:53 PM on September 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

A little visual to help with your wine education. I love this poster because it classifies wines by dry or sweet, then by the flavor undertones. So when you're making jellies, you can think about the types of complements you'd like to add.

I'm a wine lover, both whites and reds. And I agree with the others who say you don't need an expensive wine. I would target something in the $10-$12 range, when purchased at Trader Joe's, BevMo or supermarkets.

If you go to a wine store, you may pay more. Though I know of some great wine stores that stock a few lower end wines, and their staff will likely have tasted them and be able to talk about their attributes. You may or may not be able to find a place like that easily in your town.

Happy jamming!
posted by nadise at 6:03 PM on September 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Fish Eye pinot grigio. It's around $16-$17 for the equivalent of four bottles, and since it's in a box it lasts a long time in the fridge.
posted by caryatid at 6:11 PM on September 5, 2014

You know you can do herb jellies in apple juice too, right? Get some crabapples or sour apples and follow the Ball canning book instructions for cooking the apples down and extracting the juice. You can add hardier herbs during the cooking part or infuse tender herbs in the juice afterwards. You end up with a sweeter jelly because you do add sugar when you cook the juice, but it's lovely too.
posted by bluebelle at 6:49 PM on September 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

You're going to have to boil this, which means it doesn't matter much. I'd use the $4 Sutter Home Moscato myself, for a little sweetness. It's screw-top, so basically zero effort.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:56 PM on September 5, 2014

From nadise's visual, I'd select from either the "medium perfume floral" or the "light citrus lemon" clusters.

Sauvignon is nice ("light herbal grassy"), but I find that it has a slight grassy scent that might conflict with the herbs. Though at tastings I've found that women in general like sauvignon blanc much more than men do.

I don't know if you are canning in bulk, but it might even be fun to try different varietals and see how they work.

There are some excellent dry roses finally coming to the States, but they tend to be more expensive ($15 to $20 in my neighborhood). I think they would also work great, but at that price I'd save 'em for drinking.

As much as I like rieslings and some moscatos, I'd give both of them a pass here: the recipe calls for a dry wine.
posted by kanewai at 8:19 PM on September 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

For cooking I would choose the cheapest wine I could get away with (and I agree with Pinot Grigio, or a Sauv); go Trader Joe's and don't pay more than $5-7/bottle. Read the description on the bottle or ask an employee in order to gauge dry vs sweet.
posted by vignettist at 12:21 PM on September 6, 2014

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