For starters, if you have to use dry red wine, analyze the heartiness of the dish. If the dish is heavy and sumptuous, it would need a wine of the same type. For instance, a long simmered beef roast or the likes would need something like a Zinfandel. Similarly, a lighter dish will do well with a lighter red wine like Pinot Noir.
The best red wines for cooking are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Rioja, Chianti, and a few more.
Another important factor to keep in mind here is to never use a wine for cooking which you wouldn't drink. The mantra to use red wine is simple. Do not go for cheap wine as it may hamper the taste of your dish. Also, avoid adding it to the dish just before serving. It may add a harsh taste to the dish, rather than enhancing the sauces and flavor of the dish.
Specific Food Compatibility
Normally, full bodied dry wines go in tandem with red meat dishes, for example beef dishes. In addition to this, pastas with a tomato based sauce can be enhanced using it. These have a full flavor and complement even those dishes which are fundamentally spicy. Amongst others, there are a few wine types which can be included in the meal according to the menu.
Meat dishes prepared very simply, like steak can be prepared well with Cabernet Sauvignon. Zinfandel is another type of wine which is great, especially for those who are new to drinking.
Alcohol Content in a Dish After Cooking
Some people might wonder about the alcohol content in the wine? Many people say that the alcohol evaporates within a few minutes after you start cooking. But reports and studies say otherwise. They say that around 80% of the alcohol content exists even after the wine is added to a liquid at boiling temperature and then removed from heat.
However, the proportion is that, the more the dish is cooked, the less alcohol content there would be. For food cooked for 15 to 20 minutes, the alcohol content would be around 40%. But this is hardly an issue as wine already has very less amount of alcohol. If you do not want to take a chance with alcohol, you always have the option of a substitute.
Tempting and experimental as this seems, it needs some level of skill too. Although, once you perfect the basics, it would be a smooth sailing.