Cooking with White Wine

   By ajr1005  Dec 01, 2008

Don’t just drink white wine; cook with it. That’s right: I’m talking about your white wine. Add a splish here and a splash there to the various dishes you whip up, and watch (and taste) as you enliven the flavors in the dish. But don’t just use any old white. And don’t just add it at any old time. Below are essential details that will ensure the food you cook with wine doesn’t drown in the wine, but thrive in it.

First of all, never, ever use cooking wine. In fact, stay away from any wine you wouldn’t drink, for it will affect the flavor of the dish in a negative way, to say the least. The bottles you will find on supermarket shelves tend to be harsh and unbalanced (either too salty or too sweet), and the acidity and astringency will only intensify with cooking. What you want is a balanced wine.

The type of wine you use is important, and should reflect the main flavors of the dish - or at least the flavors you are trying to play up. For example, the buttery, often rich flavors in Chardonnay augment the richness and buttery character of a cream sauce, just as a crisp Sauvignon Blanc enhances a tangy chicken piccata. Although using a crisp white in a cream sauce will not damage the sauce, it will taste different from one made with a creamier variety. In short, the flavors inherent in a varietal (from citrus, to apple, to grass, to oak, and so on) will characterize the dish’s flavor.

Timing is another key when cooking with wine. Because alcohol can potentially give a dish harsh flavors, WHEN you add wine to a dish matters. Alcohol’s harshness is softened during the simple act of heating and cooking wine; as the alcohol evaporates (although never completely as long as there is liquid of some sort in the pan), the harsh flavors of the alcohol disappear. At the same time, the characteristic flavors of the wine intensify and deepen beautifully. Therefore, it is wise to reduce wine first, and then add other ingredients to complete the sauce. Adding wine at the end of the cooking process is not recommended, unless you want pure wine taste in the sauce.

Techniques abound when it comes to cooking with wine, and other than sautéing and marinating, cooks can macerate (soaking meat in a liquid in order to soften it), deglaze (dissolving the remaining morsels of roasted or sautéed food in a pot or pan by adding and heating liquid), simmer (cooking gently or remaining at or just below the boiling point), and poach (cooking in a simmering liquid). And what to cook with white wine? Stick with fish, chicken, veal, cream sauces, olive oil pasta sauces - and stay away from the red meat. But you probably already knew that, didn’t you?

Now stop reading, and start cooking with that bottle of white wine you’ve been wanting to try - and of course pour yourself a glass while you read over the recipe.


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kbrownlaw by kbrownlaw | Chicago, IL
Dec 16, 2009

If your recipe calls for white wine but you do not have white wine, you can use vermouth in a pinch. But good white wine is the best!

lovelifelisa by lovelifelisa | STRUTHERS, OH
Nov 30, 2009

I use about a half cup of white wine in my shrimp scampi recipe. It really brings out the flavor of the garlic and butter.

fajaer by fajaer | HOPEWELL, NY
Oct 30, 2009

I've never tried cooking with it, because I don't know to much about it. This article helped, but I wish it could of given recipes as examples.

Brenda121 by Brenda121 | VANCEBURG, KY
Oct 22, 2009

I agree. Recipes would be great.

mindfull by mindfull | Marion, IN
Oct 14, 2009

I have never used cooking wine so I cannot comment on the taste, but I do use different wines while preparing certain foods such as sea food or sauces, because thats how I was taught to cook and I do not like the taste of wine If just dinking it by the glass,so for those who havent tried to cook with it , there are a few web-sites that you can get recipes from and they are great.

momagarry by momagarry | MILWAUKEE, WI
Oct 14, 2009

I absolutely love cooking with wine. It really enhances flavors.

lmccall by lmccall | Humble, TX
Aug 14, 2009

I always used the cooking wine, but I will take the advice to use the real thing. Now that I think about it it makes perfect sense.

zionita by zionita | NAPLES, FL
Jul 21, 2009

I use a white wine, beef bouillon, beef rib bouillon, onions & garlic to make a sauce. I will braise some beef strips, beef round steak, or flank steak in that sauce.

Groovyduo by Groovyduo | LELAND, NC
Jul 14, 2009

Like others, I don't have a taste for wine or alcohol in general. If you've shied away because of how it taste when you've taken a sip, you are missing out on a great flavor enhancer. You'd think I have a drinking problem if you look in my pantry, because of all of the whites, Marsala, Port, even rum and Grand Marnier. Don't let the taste of alcohol from a sip keep you from trying it in the kitchen. My French Onion soup would not be the same without the wine. You've probably eaten somewhere and could not place what that wonderful hint of something was...more than likely, it was wine.

upnew16 by upnew16 | MURFREESBORO, TN
Jul 12, 2009

Wine makes everything better. I use it is in shrimp, pork, chicken, and fish dishes. I use red wine for my beef stews, tomato sauces, and roasts. I even use white wine in a roast chicken dish with brussel sprouts. It compounds the flavor and makes incredible layers. Even if you have not cooked with it before or do not enjoy drinking it, I promise that you have a favorite meal at a resturant that includes it and you just don't realize it.

Jun 25, 2009

i love to make chicken piccata with white wine even my husband was sold..and he is really picky when it comes to food..the tip with red wine in red pasta sauce is interresting im gonna try that soon.

crystalkitten by crystalkitten | Winona, MN
Jun 25, 2009

I love to cook with wine, both red and white. I have tons of recipes I use a nice Chardonnay in. I never buy cooking wine, I just buy a good bottle in the $10-12 range and cook. It is usually only 1/2 cup or less per recipe so I also cook while DRINKING the wine too! It is always the best time. I LOVE to cook.

LaneyB by LaneyB | Brick, NJ
Jun 19, 2009

i love to cook with both white and red wine. it enriches the food..Of course as cook you drink a glass while you cook!

snickerdoodle by snickerdoodle | naperville, IL
Jun 17, 2009

i love to cook risotto with chicken stock and white wine. it great to sip on it too while waiting for your meal to cook. its best to cook with wine that is good enough to drink too

poalady44 by poalady44 | goldendale, WA
Jan 04, 2009

I enjoyed this this article.I personally cannot imagine NOT cooking with wine(red or white).I have found that it adds such wonderful flavor to sauces,meats,and marinades.I prefer white wines when preparing fish and poultry dishes and red wine for beef and pork dishes.I have found that wine also helps tenderize tough cuts of meat along with the added flavor.Wine also helps to take the "gamey flavor" out of venison and game birds such as quail,duck and wild turkey.