Cooking with wine

I understand we should cook with wine we enjoy drinking. What are your go to wines and for what type of dishes?


I don’t drink alcohol so I leave the wine choices to Mrs H. She claims absolutely no expertise here - although does have a liking for “New World” reds, Voignier (sp) as a white and Prosecco for sparkling. Purchases tend to be whatever the supermarket has on offer that week. Wine seems to lend itself to casserole type dishes (I have no problem with wine when it’s in a dish - it’s the wine in the glass that was always my downfall). Oh, and it’s impossible to make gravy without a splash or two of wine (although we have recently used pomegranate mollases in gravy with some success).

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Sidebar noted on pomm molasses. I really like the flavor and have never thought if it as a wine flavor sub. Interesting.

As for wine, I havent experimented all that much. Sherry, Marsala, table red and white is about all I use in cooking and with a light pour so as not to overpower.

Use vermouth where white wine is called for when de-glazing pan seared chicken or fish–something Julia Child championed.


Good to know. We do have vermouth in the bar cabinet and I havent used it in any food prep.

Yellow wine is usually associated with chicken and morel mushroom dishes or veal.

Sauterne with foie gras, but personally I found most of them too sweet (to drink).

I keep a bottle of cheapish Sauvignon or Chardonnay in the fridge for dishes (mostly pork, chicken, fish or seafood and vegetables) that need a splash of wine, good for general day to day use. Sometimes, cheap sake would be used too, note that sake is more sweet than the 2 whites mentioned above.

Rice wine like sake or Shaoxing is good for Chinese cooking.

Edited: Except the Asian wines, all wines mentioned are French, since it’s the easiest for me to get.


Excellent for any seafood. Especially Vermouth is a short lived alcohol and should be kept in the fridge for max 3 months according to my cocktail book (but I didn’t).

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I have tried using really good wine for cooking stew, I didn’t really see it justified. Great wine should be reserved for drinking. But I have dishes ruined by very bad wine that are very cheap, so choose wisely.


It’s a hard questions to answer with a blanket reply . . . . .but this is the internet so why not.

My “go to” wines when a recipe uses white wine:

  • Sauvignon Blanc - I prefer a New Zealand to a California
  • Pinot Grigio/Gris - I find they are pretty flavor “neutral” in a recipe

“Go to” reds - this usually depends on the type of recipe but - blanket statements:

  • Pinot Noir - I find it goes with most dishes when cooked
  • Chianti - can usually find a reasonably priced option and flavor typically works fine
  • Merlot - If I have it I use it, flavors work, sometimes I find the less expensive Merlots to be a little too sweet for me - but depending on what’s in the dish, after its cooked I don’t always notice this.

I’ve always the validity of this belief (I’ve heard it too). I think vermouth looses some of its “flavor notes” as it ages, which is probably most noticed in a cocktail. But it doesn’t seem to go “bad” like a bottle of wine can if left open. I keep my opened sweet vermouth in the fridge but use well past the 3 month mark if it is still around. I have never noticed its “short lived” aspect when I’ve cooked with it. Just my experience. . . .

but using vermouth as a stand-in for wine (I’ve only ever used it for white wine) is a great suggestion.

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I didn’t even put it in the fridge and it still seems ok for me. I’m not a connoisseur of cocktail, nor did I get the best of the best bottle, so I wonder too.

Thank you for naming names :wink: @Thimes it does help me shop rather than comb shelves. Wine store staff only focus on budget to direct me.

My only other “wine for cooking” advice . . . .

I tend to avoid California Chardonnay - Chardonnay is a fine wine to cook with but the less expensive California ones tend to be very oak-y to me and I don’t like the flavor when I cook with it. But an un-oaked Chardonnay (typically from another country) is fine for me. (Personal preference)

For Reds - I try to avoid cooking with reds that are high in tannins like a Cabernet Sauvignon (that is often something a wine person can call out for you). I find that when they are cooked for a long time (like in a long braise, or italian meat sauce) they can lend a bitter note to the dish. Maybe I’m extra sensitive to bitter flavors in my food (I don’t like them).


We would never make “beef barolo” with a barolo we enjoy drinking. (We’ll forego the story a friend told us about that dish; suffice to say it reported informed skepticism about a well-known menu.) Cooking removes many of the volatile compounds that are the pleasure in the glass – no one ever advises storing wine at high temperatures to improve its taste – but by all means try the wine before sending it to the pot. Alcohol is a solvent that helps release some ingredients’ flavors; controlled acidity brings balance to some dishes, but concentrating tannins can be a problem if there isn’t enough fat or protein in the dish. In short, we’re all for a glass of cooking wine, especially while cooking.


Very useful info appreciate it. I have questioned wine suggestions in a prepared recipe unsure if the advice was unsponsored.

I marinate chicken in Muscato. Cheap Muscato. Overnight. I call it my Purple Chicken.


We’re not wine drinkers and I got tired of trying to fit open bottles of wine with corks in the fridge. So now I buy 4 packs with small bottles. Sutter Home Chardonnay & Merlot in house at present. They’re good for a cup of this and a splash of that. Not fancy but it’s convenient and works for us.


I do the same using beer. Im very fussy about beer but I keep a few bottles around for fish batter and brats.

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What Thimes, said, pretty much exactly ….

Chardonnay is usually too oakey, a taste which is picked up in the food …

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noted, thanks. I dont typically buy chard, or whites but I like Reisling