ID is Not Required to Buy Cooking Wine

July 20, 2010 at 5:00 am 14 comments

By Chad Upton

The laws and store policies around the products that require ID and the ones that don’t, are sometimes confusing.

I was in Target a while back and bought a can of compressed air to clean my dusty laptop. I was surprised when they asked for ID at the checkout.

Apparently some people like to get high from the propellant in canned air. It’s unfortunate, these are not recreational drugs, these are asphyxiates that displace the oxygen in the air, reducing the oxygen that reaches your brain and eventually causes death. The solution is to require ID for purchase, although even a 42 year old man died from “huffing” canned air.

Even when you’re using these products as intended, you should avoid inhaling the fumes and ensure adequate ventilation.

I was at Target a few weeks later, looking for ramekins to make Crème brûlée. I also needed a butane blowtorch to caramelize the top of the custard. It turns out that you can buy butane torches and fuel without ID. Thinking back to my teenage years, a blowtorch would have been much more fun than a can of air.

But, cooking wine has the most interesting story.

It ranges from 10%-13% alcohol and anybody can buy cooking wine at the grocery store. They even sell it in grocery stores in “dry” areas, where no alcoholic drinks are sold. In fact, Safeway requires ID to buy cough syrup, but not for cooking wine. Some cough syrup, such as NyQuil, contains alcohol. Other cough and cold medications contain a drug known as Dextromethorphan, which is a dissociative psychedelic drug.

My friend Molly told me about this cooking wine loophole and gave me a sample of the product. If you’ve ever tasted cooking wine on it’s own, you’ll understand why anyone is allowed to buy it. Nobody would ever consume it on its own, it’s simply awful.

Wine that is sold as “cooking wine” is usually grape or rice wine. It is then adulterated with salt, which makes it less suitable for cooking and even more undrinkable. If you’re making a recipe that calls for wine, use wine that you’d actually drink and use a wine that pairs well with the food you’re cooking.

Cooking wine has a lot of salt for coloring and as a preservative. Because cooking wine is consumed very slowly, the salt prevents acedic acid from forming and turning it into wine vinegar.

Oh, and if you’re going to make Crème brûlée, my friend Mike showed me that you should skip the butane and go with propane — it has a wider flame that heats more evenly, which gives much better results and in less time.

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Sources: Wikipedia (Cooking Wine, Difluoroethane, Dextromethorphan), MSDS, Cooking Wine Without ID (1, 2), Dry Counties, NyQuil

Photo: anitasarkeesian (cc)

Entry filed under: Around The House, Food and Drink, Law. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. 5  |  July 20, 2010 at 5:25 am

    No cough syrup contains alcohol- coughsyrup has an opiate analog akin to Ketamine; because poppy derivatives are still a caughs’ (not the colds’) only remedy.
    Every gas is just an asphyxiate that hasn’t been tested. Look at a few msds, you’ll find that most everything isn’t tested, and certainly not for anything outside of the area of it’s intended application.

    Not harping here, just hate uninformed posing fact.
    Like hearing BritishPetroleum for over a month. The company’s name is bp, and has been since it’s buy-outs in the Usa. It doesn’t take much research.

    • 2. Chad Upton  |  July 20, 2010 at 8:44 am

      I want the post to be as accurate as possible, so thanks for the info. I will say that some cough syrup, such as NyQuil, does contain alcohol. Click on the ingredients tab on the manufacturer’s page if you still believe otherwise.

      I’ll add some info about Dextromethorphan.

      I agree that every gas is an asphyxiate, and I don’t dispute that in the above post.

  • 3. Kat  |  July 20, 2010 at 8:20 am

    Looks like the person above me already beat me to this, but the exact name of the drug in cough syrup is DXM. ID is required for purchase because drinking a whole bottle of cough syrup can allow a person to trip, much like a dosage of acid. DXM is the active ingredient in most cough medicines because in small dosages it works extremely well as a cough suppressant, but in large quantities it can be dangerous.

  • 4. kkatblue  |  July 20, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    I believe that Chad is correct, (love the article, btw!), because “DXM” is just an acronym for “Dextromethorphan.”

  • 5. Jen  |  September 24, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    I do not believe you need ID for cough syrup. Mostly because I got high on cough syrup a lot in high school. I used to buy tons of bottles of it and nothing else and I’ve never been ID’d for it. Sure the clerks have either looked at me like I was crazy or digusting (or both) but that’s about it. That being said I do live in Canada and we are a lot cooler about drug use then our neighbours down south.

    Also to the first commenter. An opiate analog akin to ketamine? What the hell are you talking about? Opiates and ketamine are not related in the slightest. You are not comparing apples and oranges you are comparing apples and baby wolverines. Yes many prescription cough syrups containe codeine (hence ‘purple drank’). And yes ketamine and opiates can both knock someone out. It should be noted however that ketamine and DXM are in the same class of drugs (after all they are both dissasociates… well technically ketamine is an dissasociative anaesthetic, but close enough). But what that has to do with opiates is beyond me.

  • 6. Nate  |  November 30, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    Yes there is alcohol in many over the counter cough syrups. No it is not the reason you have to show i.d. dxm is. DXM is a synthetic morphine analog, similar to levorphanol, but does not have any opiate-like effects. So the first comment is correct, but the effects are much more akin to ketamine.

  • 7. Zebraman  |  November 5, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    How about DXM in cooking wines? I’d get to trip and have a tasty meal at the same time!

    • 8. Nightmare-Rex  |  November 3, 2017 at 3:45 pm

      lol the alcohal is destoyed during cooking and dxm turns into toxin when burned. wouldn’t recomend

  • 9. gjcenter  |  December 16, 2013 at 12:50 am

    Hi, i think that i saw you visited my blog thus i came to “return the favor”.I’m
    attempting to find things to enhance my web site!I suppose its
    ok to use a few of your ideas!!

  • 10. St. J  |  May 15, 2014 at 4:53 am

    On the contrary I happened upon cooking wine when I was fifteen and it became incorporated into the tricks and trade as it were of my pursuit of recreation. I admit the first couple were near vomit inducing. But through sheer will I stomached my first two glasses of a 20% sherry and that was all she wrote. Here I am on the verge of 21. And the only reason I’m here is because I was browsing brands available closer to me. I might even go as far to say that I’ve become quite accustomed to the tastes. Enjoy it almost.

  • 11. St. J  |  May 15, 2014 at 4:59 am

    I have to pop in once more. That DXM in cooking wine idea. You might be onto somethin’ there.

  • 12. simple cooking  |  February 27, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    simple cooking

    ID is Not Required to Buy Cooking Wine | Broken Secrets

  • 13. Ty  |  February 13, 2019 at 9:16 pm

    I just want to add that I went to buy cooking wine tonight at Fred Meyer, left my ID in the car because I had my baby with me and was just running in to grab two things, the lady would not sell the cooking wine to me because I did not have my blew my mind! Lol. So maybe it’s just based on the store’s discretion?

  • 14. Michael  |  July 19, 2020 at 6:27 pm

    I was at Fred Meyer trying to buy cooking wine and I got ID checked. I’m under 21 so I couldn’t buy it


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