The Fruity French Wine Variety That's One Of Ina Garten's Favorites

Celebrity chef, Ina Garten, frequently enjoys cooking with alcohol. And not just a splash or two — the "Barefoot Contessa" star often loves to incorporate whole bottles of wine into her cooking and serve paired cocktails alongside her meals. Garten even dedicated an episode of her Food Network television show to divulging her liquor store secrets, sharing how she incorporates some of her favorite wines and liqueurs into recipes to unlock unique, rich flavors. And there's one region in France that produces some of her favorite varieties to cook and drink with.

"I particularly like Burgundies, which tend to be fruitier and lighter than Bordeaux," Garten stated in response to a fan's question on her website. The fan was asking for a recommendation for a French wine and Garten advised heading to a good-quality wine store and asking for good Burgundies that meet your budget. If you're unfamiliar with this type of wine, there are a few distinct characteristics that make them stand out.

What makes Burgundy wine unique

When Ina Garten refers to loving Burgundies, she's describing a couple of types of wine that originate from the Burgundy region which sets the standard for pinot noir and chardonnay. Burgundy varieties have a sharper focus on fruity notes, which is why Garten particularly prefers them to Bordeaux. Burgundy wines include both red and white, allowing for an expansive range of fuller-bodied to lighter types, all with a penchant for crisp-tasting, mineral-forward flavor. They are specifically influenced by the terroir and soil qualities of the vineyard they originate from.

If you're a beginner needing a guide to French wine, the key is understanding the different, most popular winemaking regions. Bordeaux is the front-runner but Burgundy is not far behind. While Bordeaux is known for homogenous quality and taste region-wide, Burgundy can vary slightly in taste due to most vineyards having independent, family ownership and operation. Consequently, the taste and detailed notes of a Burgundy wine can vary, depending on the winemaker you choose.

How she uses Burgundy wine in cooking

Ina Garten features her red wine braised short ribs recipe in her cookbook, "Cook Like a Pro." It calls for the use of a Burgundy wine, specifically a dry red version. After roasting the short ribs in the oven and making a mirepoix of leeks, celery, carrots, and onion, she adds in minced garlic and an entire bottle of dry red Burgundy wine. The alcohol reduces and is then combined with beef stock and a can of crushed tomatoes, as well as a different kind of beverage — Guinness draught stout beer.

A dry red Burgundy makes perfect sense when combined with the savory slow-cooked short ribs since the flavors cook down gradually, infusing each bite of the stew and short rib with rich, fruit-forward flavor. Then the beef stock and Guinness beer darken up the dish, imbuing the meat with complexity. Once it's finished cooking, the only thing left to do is find a wine or beverage that you enjoy sipping on while you eat this deliciously complex meal.