Cooking wine is precisely what it sounds like, wine used for cooking. As such, all wine is cooking wine in the literal sense. However, if you see ‘cooking wine’ in a recipe, the ingredient being referred to isn’t the same as the wine you’re used to consuming.
Commonly found next to vinegar stands in supermarkets, there are six different types of cooking wines, each suited to particular dishes. These wines are generally much saltier, high on preservatives, and cannot be consumed like regular wine. We always encourage readers to try out new types of wine, but cooking wine contains about a teaspoon of salt for every eight ounces of wine, so we’ll control ourselves this time.
Feel like you’re ready to know about the best kinds of wines for cooking? Check out “Best Wines to Use for Cooking” as well.
These intense flavors can make cooking with wine tricky. One can add regular drinking wine in precise quantities, because tasting and judging are easier. However, one does not have the same privilege with cooking wines. Between the six broad categories, and the various sub-types, choosing the right wine can also take an ungodly amount of time, especially if you’re not an avid wine drinker to begin with.
That’s where we come in!
To help you make your decision quicker, this article will cover the basics and teach you how to incorporate it into your recipes. It will also provide some handy tips to remember while using the ingredient in any capacity.
View Related Cooking Wine Products Here
The Basics of Cooking Wine
What exactly is happening when you use wine as an ingredient on a hot pan? The alcohol content is evaporated, and a concentrated flavor of the notes in the wine permeates the dish. Unfortunately, for cooking wines, this can sometimes mean that you’ll be able to taste the heavy concentration of preservatives in it.
It also means that using regular wine for cooking will lend your dish a hint of the subtle flavors of the wine, but cooking wine will not. However, the saltiness of cooking wine may be an asset when preparing richer, denser meats since the high salt content is needed in preparing and tenderizing those dishes.
This brings us back to the point of tasting cooking wine before usage, something you should attempt, despite the saltiness, to extract a better idea of what you’re putting in your food.
There Are Six Different Types of Cooking Wine
- Dry red and white wines
- Dry nutty wines
- Sweet nutty wines
- Sweet fortified red wines
- Sweet white wines
- Rice wines
These cooking wines contain very little alcohol, if at all. Most chefs won’t recommend using cheap supermarket wines for cooking. The difference in price is often too small to purchase an inferior product in cooking wine, and the taste of preservatives can be off-putting to many. Interested in getting your hands on some cooking wines? Check these options out.
Not too sure what fortified wine is? Read a little more about it here.
An excellent tip to follow is if you can’t drink it, don’t cook with it. However, this tip can be unhelpful for those who do not drink wine at all. In such a case, try adding some sherry vinegar. This is just sherry that has been exposed to oxygen and turned into vinegar. It will enhance your food in the same, or even better, manner as the average cooking wine.
Using Wine for Cooking
So you have three options when choosing which wine to use while cooking. You can go with a drinking wine that adds the desired flavor to your dish, a sherry vinegar, or one of the six types of cooking wine. You can also use these three for a variety of purposes, such as deglazing, basting, marination, baking, or preparing sauces.
Though a slightly crude generalization, the main difference in taste stems from whether the wine is red or white, and the quality of the wine itself, assuming you chose either the first or third option.
If you’re planning to cook something on a simmer for a long time, you can make do with lower quality wines. An excellent way to mask this fact is to add some good quality wine at the end to distort the potentially unsavory flavors of the cheaper bottle. Try this wine out for a more economic option for your cooking.
As for red and white wines, the latter is more suitable for making desserts and baking sweet treats. For savory dishes, choose red wines that are higher on tannins. Drier wines are typically also more versatile than their sweeter counterpart while experimenting with highly aromatic wines will likely lead to disappointment/frustration. Read this article also on “What is Dry Wine?”
Some Tips to Consider While Cooking
Beware of confusing fruit wines and sweet wines. Though intuitively they might sound like the same, fruity wines can be either sweet or dry. This is because ‘dry’ is not a positive descriptor, in that it does not indicate the presence of a particular ingredient, but rather the lack of one (sugar). Check out “The Most Popular Sweet Wines” for a more detailed listing of possible options for sweet wines.
Do not surrender to the Veblen effect when it comes to wine. More expensive wines will not necessarily make your dish that much better, and the average boxed wine is more than appropriate for use in cooking. Some famous wines that are used for cooking are the dry vermouth, Chardonnay for sweeter preparations, and the Cabernet Sauvignon for spicier palates.
Pay close attention to the specific requirements of a recipe. The wrong wine can spell disaster for your food, and recipes can sometimes include woefully vague descriptions like ‘one cup red wine’. In such cases, rely on your judgement regarding the overall nature of the dish before choosing among specifics.
Lastly, be aware of the fact that though most of the alcohol is evaporated during the cooking process, there will usually be some residue left in your pan. This might be helpful if you plan on reusing the container.
Also check out “How to Tell if Wine is Bad?” to make sure your wine that you’re using is in fine condition.
All Wine is Cooking Wine
We end how we started: all wine is cooking wine, but the reverse is not true. Given the usually minuscule price difference, it is worth getting regular wine, due to its better quality, and its double utility as a drink and ingredient.
The wine you use to cook must suit your tastebuds since otherwise, the concentrated flavor might ruin hours of effort. If you still wish to give cooking wine a try, there are six distinct types to choose from, each with their uses. But in a sentence, use red wines for savory preparations, and white wine for desserts, seafood, or sweet dishes for the best recipes.
Thanks for reading with us here on Wine On My Time, if you’d like to see more about wine just view the rest of our articles here. Let us know what you want answered about wine or anything related to it, we’re more than happy to write for you! Also, check out “Best Wine for Beginners” or “Beginner Wines that You Need to Try”.
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Happy Cooking! We’ll Uncork ya Later!! 🍷