Dry white wine Cooking – 9 Tips for Cooking with White wine

By | April 13, 2015


Wine has been used for centuries to flavour dishes. Especially in Mediterranean cuisine wine is very popular. In recent years more countries have started cooking more and more with wine, especially with whites. However there still is a fair amount of people that never uses it. Actually it is a pity that there are those who rarely or never use wine during cooking, for a splash of wine on the simplest dish can be just that little bit extra which gives it a culinary touch!

white wine cookingYou may think of wine as a fat substitute in recipes. When you take some of the fat from a dish, you must usually add another ingredient to replace lost moisture or fat as taste. Instead of frying meat or vegetables in seas of butter or oil, you take a smaller amount and fill the rest with a little wine.

Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs are especially suited for this purpose.

For everybody interested in cooking with wine I am giving you here 9 facts and tips for dry white wine cooking.

Why cook with wine?

Primarily, wine enhances the flavour and aroma of dishes. Heating it concentrates the flavour of the wine, which is why it’s important to match the right one to your dish. The wine should mix with other ingredients, not stick out like a cracked cork. As with any seasoning used in cooking, care should be taken in the amount of wine used – too little is inconsequential and too much will be overpowering. Neither extreme is desirable.

How to add the wine?

For best results, wine should not be added to a dish just before serving. The wine should simmer with the food, or sauce, to enhance the flavour of the dish. If added late in the preparation, it could impart a harsh quality. It should simmer with the food or in the sauce while it is being cooked; as the wine cooks, it reduces and becomes an extract with flavours. Wine added too late in the preparation will give a harsh quality to the dish. Wine needs time to impart its flavour in your dish. Wait 10 minutes or more to taste before adding more wine.

When to use white wine?white wine cooking

As a general rule, dry white wines for cooking should be matched to lighter dishes such as chicken, pork, veal, soup, seafood, shellfish, and vegetables. It is of course also handy to look at the type of dish you want to prepare. A full wine goes better with a spicy dish or a dish that has a heavy sauce base. For a light or creamy sauce you can just better use a dry or light coloured wine.

Cooking with expensive or cheap wine?

One dish is as good as its ingredients, right? Opinions differ. Overall, the consensus is not to “waste” an expensive wine for food preparation. Why? Simply because the taste difference in the taste of the food, whether using a cheap or an expensive wine, is often minimal. Mind you, choosing a very cheap wine with a poor quality and sour or bitter flavours will only add those unwanted flavours to the dish. Moreover, right away you can eliminate anything labelled as “cooking wine” since it probably earned that title by being unfit to drink.

Therefore, it should suffice that you just choose a wine that you personally like to drink as well. And as you do not need the whole bottle of wine for cooking, you still have some left while eating your meal. It can be concluded that a suitable cooking wine does not need to be very expensive.

Use the subtle ‘food-like’ flavours in wine as a guide.

white wine cookingLook at the taste impressions in the wine for flavours of melon, apple, pineapple, pear, citrus, vanilla, caramel, olives and mushrooms and combine dishes with these ingredients. Take advantage of these flavours by adding certain wines in certain dishes.

Will I get drunk from dishes prepared with wine?

It is common belief that after a few minutes of cooking, the alcohol in wine evaporates. That’s not exactly the case. Research from the USDA shows that 85 percent of the alcohol remains after wine is added to a boiling liquid and then removed from the heat. The longer a dish is cooked, however, the less alcohol remains. If a food is baked or simmered 15 minutes, 40 percent of the alcohol will remain; after one hour, only 25 percent remains; after 2 1/2 hours, just 5 percent. But since wine does not have a large amount of alcohol to begin with (generally 12 to 14 percent), the final amount of alcohol in a dish is not a problem for most people.

Wine asks for stainless steel

Wine contains acids and these may react with some types of metal. This allows a dish to get an unwanted metallic taste. Therefore, do not use aluminium pans or pots with old cracks. If you are going to cook with wine you should go for good enamelled pots or pans of stainless steel.

Do not startle the meat!

Wine makes tough meat tenderer and softer by way of marinating, boiling or stewing. Wine, however, can also make meat tough. This is the case when you would pour cold wine over already baking and thus hot meat. It is therefore advised that you heat the wine some before it is poured over the searing meat.

White wine becomes sweeterwhite wine cooking

It should be noted that the character of white wine (red wine as well) will totally change during heating, but its strength remains. When heated, white wine loses its slightly sour flavour and becomes just sweeter. To ensure that your dish does not quite lose the acidity you can add some lemon juice.


Cooking with wine gives an extra dimension to the end result. If you cook with wine, it helps to have a few things in mind in order to achieve the best possible result. I trust that the above summary will support you in getting the best end result for your efforts.

For pairing Chardonnay wine to the right dishes, please click here. In case you want access to top Chardonnays, just click on the three images to the right (for mobile users just under this text) with the heading world best Chardonnays for delivery to either the USA, UK or Australia.

I also hope you have enjoyed reading this and I you have any questions and/or remarks, please leave them in the comment box and I will get back to you within 24 hours.

10 thoughts on “Dry white wine Cooking – 9 Tips for Cooking with White wine

  1. Martha

    Can u use white wine vinegar in making SHRIMP SCAMPI if you have no dry whit wine?

    Thank You

    1. Jerry Post author

      I think you can, but the difference will be that the vinegar will not contain alcohol.

    1. Jerry Post author

      You are welcome Sheena! I hope that some day you will be using white wine and Chardonnay in particular. A number of reviews for some excellent wines are there.

  2. damon

    This was a very interesting article. I never really thought about a butter or fat substitution of “wine” of all things. I guess it just never dawned on me. You give some very good advice I will definitely consider trying to reduce at the very least butter when cooking. thank you for sharing your expertise

    1. Jerry Post author

      Thank you Damon, I am glad you liked it and feel free to come back and leave a question. Cheers, Jerry

  3. Beverly-S

    Jerry, I appreciate this wonderful info. on cooking with wine. I’ve never actually cooked with wine but have heard much about it in the past. However, it seems the tables have turned since I’m now on a special diet. I was glad to read that wine was a great replacement for some of the un-healthy cooking oils. Also, I was grateful that you was so thorough about explaining the different types or wines to use for certain dishes. I plan to bookmark this site to refer back when I try my first wine laced dish…LoL.

    1. Jerry Post author

      Hi Beverly, thank you for your comments, much appreciated. It appears that worldwide, more and more people start cooking with wine. Please do visit again and feel free to ask any questions. Cheers, Jerry

  4. pascal

    Just wanted to let you know that this was a very nice read I havened used wine for cooking for almost 7 years now but after reading this I think i will start using It again.

    Very nice keep up the great work.

    Gr Pascal owner of http://weightcomestumblingdown.com

    1. Jerry Post author

      Hello Pascal, yes wine can really make a difference sometimes. Let me know if I can help you with anything. Cheers, Jerry


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