Choosing the Best White Wine to Cook With

There are so many recipes that call for dry white wine for cooking. If you think about some of your favorite pasta sauce, chicken, and soup dinners, many suggest using one of many types of white cooking wine to bring out the natural flavors of the food. We’ll look at some of the different dry white wines for cooking and factors that may help you determine which is best for your needs. 

Why is Dry White Wine Best for Cooking? 

When looking at different recipes that call for wine, using a dry white wine is usually preferred. There are many kinds of white wine, but the most versatile is a crisp, dry white wine. There are several reasons for this. Oaky white wines may turn bitter when cooked, and sweet white wines tend to carmelize when deglazing a pan. 

Wine -- like other ingredients -- transforms when cooked. As it mingles with the other ingredients and flavors, the subtle nuances of its flavor may blend with others. For this reason, it’s appropriate to use a moderately priced white wine to cook with, though a more expensive, high-quality dry white wine can be used to finish a dish. 

How it Differs from Sweet White Wine

Using a dry white wine for a recipe is preferred over a sweet white wine because it adds acidity rather than sweetness. Moscato, sweet rieslings, and white ports carmelize quickly when used to deglaze a pan. Other white wines that are full-bodied will add intense flavors to the food, so it’s best to avoid oaked Chardonnays and the like. 

Types of White Cooking Wine

There is a wide variety of white cooking wines available, and each makes unique contributions to cooking dishes. 

Pinot Grigio

Pinot Grigios are best for recipes that call for a mellow flavor. As a neutral white wine, its flavor profile lends crispness to dishes without being too sweet. 

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is a great all-purpose white wine that can be used across many recipes. While it is considered a dry white wine, it is more acidic than Pinot Grigio. When cooking with Sauvignon Blanc, it’s best to use one with lower alcohol content. Otherwise, it could take longer to reduce.

Dry Sherry

Dry sherries are a delicious option for many sauces and seafood dishes. They contribute a ton of flavor that can add the perfect accent to a dish; however, you should avoid using cream sherries as they can be too sweet for most recipes. 

Chinese Rice Wine

Chinese rice wine is created from distilling and fermenting rice, making it a unique white wine, unlike any others. As a result, it also has a high alcohol content, so it’s best to use only a splash for most recipes. 

Best Dry White Wine for Cooking

Determining the best dry white wine for cooking requires some knowledge about the flavor profile of the wine and the desired taste of the final dish. While finding the best dry white wine for cooking may seem like a challenge, there are many options. Some white wines work better than others for specific dishes and recipes, so finding the best option often comes down to which dish you’re cooking.