Food with Flair: Tips for Choosing the Best White Wine for Cooking
Using wine in your cooking is a fantastic way to add a complex layer of flavor to a dish. Wine is a perfect way to enhance sauces, marinades, soups, salad dressings and even desserts (see: red wine chocolate cake, poached pears in white wine and roasted fruit with Marsala syrup).
You might think that the wine you pair your meal with is most important, but often it is the wine you’re cooking with that matters most.
When it comes to cooking, white wine will be your best friend.
Choosing the Best White Wine for Cooking
The problem is in choosing the white wine. What is the best white wine for cooking? How do you choose the right wine for the specific dish you’re making? Is it true that the wine you cook with should also be one you would drink?
These are common quandaries. A guide to the best white wine for cooking will clear them all up, not to mention make you a better cook!
The Best White Wines for Cooking: A Brief Guide
By far, the best white wine you can cook with is not a cheap cooking wine but a good, moderately priced, drinkable variety. You don’t have to spend a fortune, but you should be able to drink it.
In addition, dry white wines are better than sweet or rich and oaky (barrel-aged) varieties for all-around cooking. The rich types can become bitter after cooking, and sweet wines can add unwanted sweetness or even produce unwanted caramelization in the pan (while good for some dishes, it’s not so great for others).
If the wine is mostly being cooked off, stick to moderately priced varieties. If the wine is meant to finish the dish and the flavor will be quite pronounced, however, feel free to splurge on fine varieties that will be the star of the show.
The Best White Wine for Cooking Fish
When cooking flaky, delicate meat such as fish, the best dry white wine for cooking will not have a flavor that is too intense. Instead, it should balance out with the other flavors yet provide enough acidity to add some bite to fish that is fatty or mild.
A crisp sauvignon blanc is excellent for sauces with fish. Other good options are unoaked Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio.
The Best White Wine for Cooking Seafood
For seafood such as oysters, mussels, clams and the like, go for something light and bright—something that makes you think of the sea. All the options for fish can work for seafood, but another great option includes a dry vermouth. Dry vermouths are bright and crisp.
The Best White Wine for Cooking Chicken
A heartier meat such as chicken requires a richer white wine, as chicken is often marinated or served with cream sauces or gravies. Chicken can easily become bland, however, so the flavors paired with it need to compensate. So what is the best white wine for cooking chicken?
In general, an unoaked Chardonnay provides the intense flavor and richness that suits chicken dishes. Cheap Chardonnays will not work, as these are aged in oak barrels and will become bitter when cooked.
Once you’re done cooking your meal, don’t forget to pair it with the perfect wine while you’re eating, too!
The Best White Wine for Cooking Sauces
Who doesn’t love a good chicken or veal marsala? Kitchn shares some other great white wines to dry out in sauces. This includes using Sauvignon Blanc when making heavy cream-based sauces. The addition of the white wine will add acidity to the sauce. Sherry is also a great wine to add to cream sauces.
Madeira, a Portuguese fortified wine, will come in handy when making sauce for beef wellington or gravy.
The Best White Wine for Salad Dressing
Sparkling wine makes for a great champagne vinaigrette. “The bubbles dissipate when cooked,” according to Kitchn, so you don’t need to worry about the bubbles getting in the way.
The Best White Wine for Cooking Soups
Food & Wine highlights chablis as a great wine to use when making broths. In fact, chablis can be used when making soup-based dishes, too.
Kitchn suggests sticking to a dry sherry when making your favorite soups to add “another layer of depth and dimension.”
A surprising white wine to make its way into soup? Moscato! Moscato can make a great addition when making pumpkin soup, according to Kitchn.
The Best White Wine for Cooking Desserts
Including a hint of moscato in some of your favorite baked goods will add the perfect hint of additional sweetness. It’s best used in baked goods such as rhubarb galette and lemon sponge cake, according to Spoon University.
Riesling is another great choice when baking, thanks to its “delicate aroma of citrus fruits, apples and flowers.” Riesling can also be used to poach fruit.
Sauternes, a bright and sweet white wine, makes a great egg-based dessert sauce, according to Food & Wine.