I've been making braise beef with red wine and couldn't understand why the sauce kept coming out so bitter when I've made it so good before. Then I found out that using a Cotes du Rhone gave a peppery taste to the sauce. Not what I was looking for at all! So I was wondering if someone could help me run down the differences in the TYPES of red wine used for cooking. The popular ones are: Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet, Zinfendel, and Syrah.
Obviously the Syrah is out given my bad experience with the Cotes. I don't like using Merlot, but only because I've found that my sauces come out an unattractive purple color. I guess that leaves the Pinot Noir, Cabernet, and Zinfendel. So what are the general differences between these three?
I've had a great experience with the Pinot Noir; haven't ever tried a Cabernet or Zinfendel. Ideally, I'm looking for something that lends to a more sweet, fruity sauce. Something that lightens the "beefiness" of the meat rather than adds to it.