Cooking Wine Guide

Cooking with wine is not a usual technique in many kitchens and can be misunderstood. Wine brings the flavor in meals since it brings out the acidity in the dish. When you understand how wine balances out in your recipe, you’ll add it like vinegar or lime juice.

The difference between cooking wine and regular wine is quality. Since one is made solely for cooking, it has all these preservatives sweeteners and salt. The other one has none of this, of course.

Most people have allegedly concluded that if you want the best wine for cooking, use the regular one for quality results since it hasn’t been “downed.”

Wine is used in cooking for its acidity, which helps break down cuts of meat through low and slow methods like braising while retaining moisture and fine texture in lighter proteins like fish. It can add flavor, aroma, and moisture to a recipe. Different wines bring their qualities and flavors to a dish.

Choosing A Good Cooking Wine

This may seem complicated, but it isn’t. You can cook with a bottle of wine that has been opened for a few days. It doesn’t have to be new or labeled “cooking wine.” On the contrary, you should cook with wine that you would drink yourself unless the recipe calls for the Chinese cooking wine.

You are mostly going to use a splash of it, so save your best limited-release for a special night. If you use your best, you won’t tell because the wine’s maturity is lost in the cooking. A dry wine is better than a sweet one because the sweet wine will impart the unwanted sweetness to the dish.

Is Cooking Wine Alcoholic? 

Yes, it is! It may not have the same alcoholic percentage, but it has some alcohol. Most have an alcohol content of around 17%. It may not necessarily get you drunk, but drinking a whole bottle of that is equivalent to taking three bottles of beer just so you know, anyway, back to cooking.

If you are pregnant and think of cooking with wine, then don’t because any alcohol added in the start or finish of cooking will still be there when consuming it. So, it is better to keep your baby away from that.

Cooking Wine Types

There are six main types of wines you can choose from for cooking that depends on what you are preparing. Some work best with meat, and others do not.

  1. Dry red and white wines
  2. Dry oxidized/nutty wines
  3. Sweet white wines
  4. Sweet fortified red wines (Port)
  5. Rice wine
  6. Sweet Nutty/oxidized wines

Dry White Wines

White Wine

A dry white wine is any white wine that is not sweet. This goes for the ones you buy to drink. For the cooking, though, you want a wine with a high acidity known as being “crisp.”

Rich oaky whites are quite bitter if you use them in cooking while sweeter whites caramelize during deglazing. Unless you want a white wine to appropriately finis a dish and not lose its subtle nuances, use a high-quality one.

If not, choose a moderately priced one. Note, not any cheap dry white wine. Below we will look at a few famous dry white wines and how to use them in your cooking:

  1. Crisp white wine (Pinot, Grigio Sauvignon Blanc, and Unoaked Chardonnay) –This is your go-to type of dry white wine. Ditch the ones with high alcoholic content because they take longer to reduce and have little to no acidity, and that is what you want here.Duck Pond Pinot Gris, Gabbiano Pinot Grigio Della Venezie, Toad Hollow, Chardonnay, Black Box Sauvignon Blanc, and Mouton Cadet Sauvignon Blanc are very drinkable crisp dry white wines that you can cook with. Chardonnay contributes the most richness of the above.
  2. Dry Marsala –Dry Marsala is one of those wines you use when finishing cooking to preserve its flavor. It is known for its versatility and brings depth to any cream sauce. Also brilliant alongside appetizers
  3. Dry Sherry –This is one of those wines you add when the meal is almost cooked to preserve the flavor it adds. It finishes a pot of chicken and cauliflower well, adding a layer of depth and dimension.

Dry Red Wines

Red Wine

While white wines are on the lighter side of the menu, dry red wines go with the savory menu. Some reds have big tannins, and that is not what you go for when cooking because you do not want your food chalky. You want those with moderate tannins like :

  • Cabernet Sauvignon, which is excellent for braising ribs.
  • Pinot noir, which cooks nicely with a meaty stew.
  • Merlot also cooks well with proteins.

Rice Wine

Rice wine is made from fermented rice. Quite similar to rice vinegar but differ in how they are produced and their use. Unlike wine made from fermented fruit, it is made from fermented glutinous rice where yeast transforms the sugars to alcohol.

An example of rice wine is Chinese wine, which is used in a variety of Asian cuisines.

Chinese Cooking Wine

This is essential in Chinese cooking. That secret ingredient makes a meal taste like a meal you’d eat out of a Chinese restaurant. It is also known as Shaoxing Wine and is used in everything they cook.

From sauces to wontons and marinades. It is a rice wine and is made solely for cooking. If you are thinking of drinking, it doesn’t. It has a harsh alcoholic flavor, which is not made for drinking.

It is paired with soy sauce and is used to add depth and complexity to the dishes. For any Chinese meal, this wine has to be the key ingredient to that specific taste. They use it in noodle recipes, in every stir fry sauce, and almost any savory dish.

Wine Vinegar

This is a red or white wine fermented and oxidized into acid with a light fruity flavor. The difference between the two is that the red wine vinegar has a pinkish hue that white wine vinegar doesn’t have.

Cooking Wine Recipes

Tilapia with Kale and Caper Wine Sauce

Heat a tablespoon of butter and olive oil in a skillet and sear the tilapia fillets. Let them cook thoroughly on each side. Set them aside and add a half cup of white wine to the same skillet you used and cook the kale and capers. The white wine helps enhance the flavors of the capers and softens the kale.

Creamy Chicken in White wine sauce

Panfry the chicken till it’s golden brown. The white wine will be incorporated when making the sauce. Use Herbs de Provence or Italian seasoning. You will need:

  • Two chicken breasts cut in half
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • Three tbs butter
  • ½ cup dry wine
  • One pinch of Herb de Provence
  • ½ cup of heavy cream
  • Flour for dredging
  •  One tbs olive oil
  1. Sprinkle your chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and garlic powder then dredge them in the flour. Make sure they are well coated.
  2. In a skillet, add the olive oil and the butter and heat them over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot enough, add your coated chicken pieces and cook for 5 minutes, turning them regularly. Don’t cook them through, though. Set them aside when golden.
  3. Add the wine and chicken broth in the same pan and stir it till it bubbles. Include the remaining butter and the Herbs de Provence and let them simmer.
  4. Add the cream and the chicken back to the pan and cook them over medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes till the sauce is thickened and chicken cooked through.

Shrimp Scampi

This is one American-Italian classic dish. It is sauteed shrimp tossed with a sauce of white wine, garlic, lemon juice, butter and then served with pasta. For a serving of six, you will need:

  • 2 lb of shrimp butterflied, peeled and deveined

    Red Wine with Pasta
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ chicken stock
  • 1 ½ cups of dry white wine
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Five cloves garlic minced
  • One tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 5 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
  • Salt and ground pepper
  • 1 lb linguine
  1. Start by dredging the shrimp in flour. Heat oil in a pan over high heat and saute the shrimp in batches when the pan is ready until slightly golden, then set them aside. Season with salt and place them over a paper towel to absorb excess oil.
  2. Drain the oil in the pan and wipe it clean. Now add the Worcestershire sauce the wine, stock, garlic, and lemon juice. Cook over high heat till it reduces by half. Whisk in butter and season with salt and pepper. Lower the temperature and add the shrimp tossing so that the shrimps get coated well with the sauce.
  3. Bring to a boil a pot of salted water and add the linguine stirring it to cook until it’s al dente for about 10 minutes. Drain and toss with the shrimp and sauce. Add the parsley and season with salt and pepper if needed.

Ribeye steak with Red wine


  • Two large ribeye steaks
  • Pepper and Kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • Two sprigs thyme
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 cup red wine
  • ¼ 
  • cup shallots
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • One sprig rosemary
  1. Line a sheet pan with foil and place a wire rack on top of then set-aside.
  2. Make sure to adjust the oven rack to the middle and preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Place a skillet in the oven to warm.
  3. To remove excess moisture, dry the steaks with a paper towel and put them on the wire rack. Season them with salt and pepper. Cook them in the oven for 25 minutes depending on their thickness then set them aside
  4.  Remove the skillet from the oven and on to the stovetop. Heat it over high heat with oil till it smokes then add the steaks carefully. Sear the first side till a deep brown crust forms, then turn and do the same for the other side. Add butter, and as it melts, baste the steaks with it. Set them aside again.
  5. Onto the red wine sauce. Do not get rid of all steak drippings. At least reserve one tablespoon in the pa and heat over medium heat.
  6. First, add the garlic and shallots and stir them till they are tender. Add your red wine, balsamic vinegar, rosemary sprig, and thyme sprigs. Bring the mixture to a rapid simmer over high heat.
  7. Let the mixture thicken till it reduces to about a quarter a cup. Add the beef stock and cook till it thickens. Remove the rosemary and thyme.
  8. Garnish the steaks with parsley and pour spoonfuls of the wine sauce to your serving. Enjoy!

Red Wine-Braised Pork Recipe


  • 2 lbs boneless pork shoulder
  • Kosher salt
  • ¾ tsp ground pepper
  • One tbsp extra-virgin oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup chopped carrot
  • One bay leaf
  • Two tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • ½ cup celery
  • Two cloves minced
  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Season your pork with salt and pepper then heat oil in a large oven pot over medium-high heat. Add the pork and cook until all sides brown then place on a clean plate.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion, carrot, and celery. Cook until they brown too, then add garlic, thyme, and the bay leaf. Cook for 1 minute later the tomato paste and cook for some seconds. Increase the heat now, then add the red wine cooking and scraping till it browns. Return the pork and let it nestle into the liquid.
  3. Cover the pot and transfer to the oven where it should bake until the meat is tender for about 2 hours.
  4. Shred the pork using two forks and serve with the sauce.