The Best White Wines For Cooking

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If you love wine, but aren’t using it in your food … you are missing out! Not only does wine add unparalleled depth and flavor to the food, it can also help tenderize meat and makes meal times so much more exciting. 

But seeing “1 cup white wine” on a recipe can be overwhelming if you are new to cooking with wine. Do you grab dry or sweet? Does quality matter? Will a bottle of “cooking wine” cut it? In this blog post, we are going to talk about the 5 bottles of wine every aspiring wino should have in their pantry and 5 simple ways you can start incorporating wine into your regular menu today. 

Related: These corkscrews making opening wine bottles a breeze!

Why Do You Cook With White Wine?

Just like any ingredients you add to a meal, wine adds a certain flavor to the dish. Only instead of a one dimensional and specific spice, you are getting a highly complex flavor profile and added aromatics that herbs and spices cannot compete with. Wine adds so much depth to your meal and it’s hard to find any other ingredient that can add the interest that wine does. 

Related: Wine aerators make the wine you’re enjoying alongside your culinary adventures all that much better!

Does Alcohol Burn Off During Cooking?

Not all of it, but most of it does! The amount of alcohol left after cooking will depend on the amount of time it has been cooked, the temperature it was cooked at and the concentration of the alcohol being cooked. If you want to ensure that all of the alcohol has been cooked out of your food, choose a recipe that requires long and slow simmering of two hours or more. Recipes cooked briefly with a wine that has a higher alcohol content, will definitely contain more alcohol during consumption. 

3 Simple Rules to Follow When Selecting Wine To Cook With

The Wine Must Be Drinkable

We have all seen those little bottles of “Cooking Wine” in the vinegar section of the grocery store. Perhaps you have used them, and I am sure your meal probably turned out just fine. But, think of it this way, you can cook rice in water and it will turn out great. However, if you cook it in chicken broth it completely intensifies and changes the flavor. Cooking with a quality, drinkable wine will make your meal so much better!

Pay Attention To The Flavor Profile

We all know that the flavors in the wine descriptions aren’t actually in the bottle, but it’s important to think about them and how they would compliment a dish you are making. If a wine boasts a strong lemon finish, it would probably be lovely with seafood. If a wine has a bit of earthy minerality in it’s flavor, then it would probably pair well with mushrooms. So pay attention to the labels and try and pick a wine that compliments the dish you are making. 

A great way to expand your lexicon of flavors and food pairing is through a leading culinary program like Rouxbe!

Choose Dry

When it comes to cooking, dry is almost always best and you want a moderate alcohol level of around 10%. If you are making a marinade, using wine to saute or making a sauce…choose dry. The only time you should choose a sweet wine is if the wine is being incorporated into dessert or baking. Then, a sweet wine is acceptable. 

5 Best White Wines To Cook With

Pinot Grigio

It is light, citrus forward, crisp and has a clean finish which makes this an excellent and versatile wine to cook with. Try it with risotto, rice, or simple sauteed veggies. 

Sauvignon Blanc

This white wine has a little more zip to it and a stronger finish. Try it as a marinade with grilled chicken breasts or whole roasted chicken. 

Un-Oaked Chardonnay

While oaked chardonnay is one of my favorites to drink by the glass, when it comes to cooking, I highly recommend you stick to a Chardonnay produced in stainless. It will have a long lingering ending and a bit of minerality on the finish. It is perfect for mushrooms and cream sauces. 


I love sherry in soups or slow cooked beef dishes. Remember to use dry and give it a little extra time in the pan, as it has a slightly higher alcohol content and will need extra time to get the tenderizing effect we desire from it. 


Almost everyone has had chicken or veal marsala before, and there is a reason! Marsala is amazing to pair with earthy sauces and is a must-have for any wine loving chef. 

So now that we know the best white wines to cook with, I am going to tell you HOW to cook with them! 

5 Ways To Cook With Wine

  1. Use it as a marinade – if you are making chicken on the grill and plan to marinate it with oil and herbs, splash a little dry white wine in there too to take your go-to marinade up a notch. The wine will help tenderize the meat and add a “wow” factor you will love. 
  2. Replace water in a recipe with wine – when cooking rice, risotto or soup, replace some of the liquid with wine. 
  3. Saute food in wine mixed with oil- add white wine to veggies or stir fry for a finish that will linger.  
  4. Add wine to sauces or gravy – adding wine to sauces or gravy gives it that pop of flavor in the background that makes it taste like its simmered all day, even if it took 30 minutes! 
  5. Add sweet wine to baked goods only – you can drizzle a reduction over dessert or even use it directly in the baked goods! 

5 Classic White Wine Dishes To Test Your New Skills

  1. Shrimp Scampi – Try cooking this with a Pinot Grigio
  2. Chicken Marsala- Remember to choose a Dry Marsala! 
  3. Risotto – Grab some seasonal produce and a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc for this quick and easy meal. 
  4. Pasta with a Creamy White Wine Sauce- Pasta, Garlic, Onion, Cream and Wine = perfection! 
  5. Linguine with a White Wine Clam Sauce – the classic menu option will cost a fraction if you make it at home, and you get to enjoy the leftover wine! 

Once you put these basic principles into practice you will be much more comfortable following these rules (and breaking them!) in the kitchen. Let me know what white wine dish you are most excited about trying in the kitchen next!

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