Many dishes call for the use of white wine for cooking!
Many of us don’t know the why or how of cooking with white wine. White wine is important in developing the flavor of certain recipes. This primer will take some of the mystery out of the benefits of cooking with white wine.
What White Wine is Best for cooking?
- White wines are typically tangy, crisp, tart, or sweet, and the right type will add a balanced flavor to your dish as well as clear the palate from overly rich ingredients. For savory dishes, dry wine is best. When cooking, stay away from sweet whites like Riesling, Moscato, or Sauternes.
- Typically, white wines are meant to add a touch of acidity to recipes containing poultry, fish, seafood, dairy products, and they are perfect for deglazing a pan after cooking meat or onions, garlic, mushrooms, and other vegetables. But make sure to pick the right kind:
- Pinot Gris, Semillon, and Sauvignon Blanc are whites that accentuate the flavors of heavy cream, butter, and strong-tasting cheeses like Monterey Jack, Gruyere, and Parmesan. Unoaked Chardonnay can be perfect for careful dishes like Mushroom Risotto, or delicate Seared Scallops in Lemon Wine Sauce.
How to Cook with White Wine
Deglazing a Pan: Once onions, garlic, or meat has been browned, remove from the pan and add a splash of white wine to the pan. Using the end of a wooden spoon or spatula, scrape the bits of caramelized food from the bottom of the pan and continue to make the recipe. Garlic Shrimp Pasta is a good recipe that showcases the deglazing step and is light, delicious, and oh-so-easy.
Steaming: Use a splash of dry sherry to add to a skillet with fish or seafood and some herbs and let the wine enhance the delicate flavors. So good! Or steam mussels with garlic and white wine!
In a Sauce: Deglaze the pan and when the wine is reduced to a syrupy consistency, whisk in broth, stock, or cream, and a pat or two of butter. Add preferred seasonings and reduce to desired consistency. Any type of white wine sauce will taste amazing with pasta, like this Lemon Shrimp Linguine.
How to Use White Wine as a Marinade
- Whisk white wine with desired seasonings or herbs and pour into an airtight container or a zippered bag.
- Add protein and allow meat to marinate as little as 30 minutes, but no more than 4 hours.
- Drain and prepare meat per recipe.
PRO TIP: Leftover marinade can be simmered down into a sauce if desired. Baked Chinese Chicken and Rice has a great, all-purpose marinade that can be made into a sauce afterward.
How to Use White Wine in Desserts
This is probably the only time white wine will be used “raw” and the alcohol will still be present. Dessert wines like Riesling, Sauterne, Moscato, and Lambrusco are so delicious when soaked into an angel food cake and topped with strawberries and freshly whipped cream. For a sweet beverage, use fresh oranges combined with a sparkling Moscato. White wine cookies or white wine granita or sorbet are always special treats, as well.
Can you Use Red Wine Instead?
In general, recipes that call for white wine don’t work out well with red, and vice versa. The exception to this rule is for the famous Coq au Vin, which uses red wine, but depending on the recipe tastes very good made with a dry white, as well! But if you are really itching to use red wine in a dessert, try this delicious Red Wine Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Butter Cream. You won’t be disappointed!
Substitutes for White Wine
- The first rule of cooking with any wine is that if you wouldn’t drink it, you shouldn’t cook with it. And white wine is no exception. Accepting a cheap substitute for a decent bottle isn’t the best idea.
- However, since heat kills off the alcohol, save those pricier vintages to go with the meal. Also, avoid buying “cooking wine” at the supermarket. It’s sodium-laden, and for the same price, a decent, drinkable bottle of real wine can be purchased instead.
- As for substitutions? It’s hard to find a perfect replacement. No dish will have the same rich depth when made with a substitute, but a recipe can still taste very good with mushroom or chicken broth, apple cider vinegar, or even a splash of white wine vinegar or lemon juice in place of white wine.