Dry White Wine for Cooking

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There are a few basic rules to follow when cooking with wine that will almost guarantee a great result. With careful selection of wine and food ingredients anyone can please family, friends and colleagues.

These fundamental rules apply for both white and red wines used in cooking, so they will obviously fit for more specific areas such as dry white wine for cooking.

The key is to use a good wine and not the cheapest wine. In addition, it’s not wise to rely on “cooking wine” offered at various stores. As many experienced chefs know, cooking wines may have added ingredients such as salt and other minor touches that can alter the taste. Cooks shouldn’t use cheaper wines either, since a wine should be good enough to savor on its own before it is included in a favorite dish.

On the other end of the scale, the cook shouldn’t use an expensive wine either. There are two reasons, as most wine lovers will understand.

  • First of all, the best wines are meant to be tasted on their own and enjoyed in a leisurely fashion from our favorite wine glass.

  • The second reason is one of economics... Wine does not usually dominate a prepared dish, only adding to the flavor. It doesn’t make sense to pour the most expensive wines into a pot or pan.

A bottle of white wine with grapes

Dry white wines are best

With those basics in mind, it’s time to consider why dry wines are best for cooking purposes. According to most wine experts, the drier wines are best for cooking because most or all of the natural sugars in the grape have been used up by the fermentation process. There is plenty of alcohol content and no overpowering sweetness that could change the taste of the prepared dish.

For best results when working with a recipe that calls for dry white wine,

  • an above average Sauvignon Blanc,

  • Chardonnay

  • or Chenin Blanc will work well.

Some folks like to use a Riesling as well, though some of these have a very fruity nature that should be taken into consideration.

Avoid very cheap wine

When your recipe calls for dry white cooking wine, consider that using a very cheap wine will only add bitterness to the recipe and little else.

When you are seeking knowledge about cooking with dry white wine it doesn’t hurt to ask your vineyards/winery operator or the chef or manager at a good restaurant. The restaurants may not give away their recipes but they can offer some solid advice about white wine use in the kitchen.

In summary, here are a few more highlights about a good dry white wine for cooking:

  • Try to match your wine’s “home country” with the dish being prepared.

  • Try a recipe that calls for both a dry white wine and not-too-sweet vermouth

  • Experiment with a dry white wine for a great pasta sauce

  • Check with wine experts and chefs – books, Web sites etc. Some of the best white wine dishes are easy and don’t require the cook to search for rare and expensive ingredients

Cooking with dry white wine is large and fascinating subject that covers much more ground than we can address here. However, there is a lot of good information about this in the library or the bookstore.

Happy wine cooking!

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