Although primarily a drink, wines are a prominent part of many cooking recipes. This guide will tell you all about what wine is good for cooking and the benefits of each type. If you are looking for the pros of using white wine, let’s get into it.
1. Pinot Grigio
Peach, Citrus, Green Apple
10% to 12%
Vegetables, Glaze, and Meat
When it comes to famous white wines in the world, Pinot Grigio is at the top of the list. Due to its accessibility, it has become the first option for many cooks when using white wine. The wine has a good balance between its low sugar content and acidity, making it an excellent choice.
The flavors of Pinot Grigio are crisp yet light taste. The wine has a lower level of tannins and has incredible fruity notes, perfect for vegetables, meat, and glazes.
It has notes of fruity and citrusy flavors which can elevate the flavors of any food you cook with it. Some lower-quality Pinot Grigio has traces of sugar content but not enough to be noticeable when cooked.
Since the Pinot Grigio is dry, there is not much sugar within every bottle. It provides the right amount of moisture and acid without messing with the sweetness of the food. That’s also why it’s best for glazes, as it can intensify the flavor without adding too much sweetness.
Pinot Grigio is the safest option if you are new to cooking with wine. It’s also the most accessible as you can find cheap ones at stores.
2. Unoaked Chardonnay
Dry to Sweet
12% to 14%
Chicken and Mushrooms
Chardonnay is a white wine classic. It provides a nice blend of tannins and acidity with a hint of sweetness. However, unoaked Chardonnay comes with its perks.
Differing from the regular, unoaked Chardonnay provides a more subtle flavor. The wine also has lesser tannins compared to the regular ones. In turn, it has a smoother texture yet is bold with hints of tropical flavors.
It does not have the oak and wood flavor commonly associated with Chardonnay. The unoaked version also has a more light texture with a balance of sweet and tropical.
Unoaked Chardonnay is best with white meat such as chicken and dry vegetables such as mushrooms. It provides the right acidity to keep the ingredients moist and flavorful.
However, it also has higher tannins and sugar. It means you can add it as a sweetener in glazes, granted it’s just a tiny amount. Chardonnay is the closest you can get to red wine without the tannins. So, it’s also an excellent substitute.
3. Sauvignon Blanc
Green Bell Pepper, Grass, Tropical Fruits
1% to 13.5%
eafood, Creamy Dishes, Salads
Sauvignon Blanc is famous due to its grassy and refreshing flavor. It has a nice blend of acidity and earthy flavors. Some wineries also infuse their Sauvignon Blanc with tropical flavors such as passion fruit.
Besides its taste, the wine’s aroma is another reason it’s helpful in the kitchen. It provides a fantastic blend of herbal fragrances that can elevate your meal.
The taste of Sauvignon Blanc can vary greatly depending on the place it comes from. Colder climates tend to produce it with more tropical flavors and sweetness. On the other hand, hotter climates tend to lean on grassy and earthy notes.
Being herbaceous, it’s the perfect contrast with seafood. Sauvignon Blanc provides a balancing taste to the intense flavors of seafood. As its aromatic, it can eliminate the fishiness familiar with seafood.
The aroma and incredible flavors make it a common addition to creamy sauces and salads. It provides an herbaceous twist and excellent scent. Salads with cheese dressing are a perfect companion with Sauvignon Blanc.
Peach, Apple, Apricot
Dry to Sweet
8% to 13%
Red Meat, Dessert, Sweet Glazes
Riesling is one of the most flexible white wines in cooking. It can be paired with many meat and dessert dishes.
It comes with a hint of tropical fruits such as peach and apricot. Along with its incredible sweet taste, the wine also has a great deal of acidity.
When it comes to its texture and taste, Riesling tends to vary a lot. It can be off-dry or sweet, depending on where the wine came from. Riesling from France and New York tends to be dry, while bottles from Germany and California are sweeter.
Due to its acidity and slightly sweet taste, Riesling is often used with meat. It can break down the fat and infuse the meat deeply with flavors. It’s an excellent addition to any slow-cooked and braised meat dishes. It also keeps the moisture on white meat cuts such as chicken breasts and ducks. It softens the meat without making it dry.
Other than that, Riesling is familiar with sweet glazes and desserts due to its tropical flavors. It serves as an excellent aromatic addition to any pastries.
5. Pinot Blanc
Dry to Sweet
12% to 14%
White Meat Cuts, Desserts
Pinot Blanc is a mutation from Pinot Noir. It offers an excellent blend of sweetness and acidity. With hints of almond, apple, and sometimes oak, it is a perfect companion to many white meat cuts and dessert recipes.
The wine provides moisture and a hint of sweetness. Due to its versatility, the wine can be used in several dishes. It can be dry, sweet, and full-bodied, depending on where you got it.
The taste of Pinot Blanc is often compared to Chardonnay. They both have the same fermentation process and high acidity. So, this win also makes for a perfect substitute for a glass of Chardonnay.
As a side note, here’s some more information on popular types of white wine.
Why do People Use White Wine instead of Red?
When it comes to cooking, red wines and white wines can take on the center stage. However, significant differences sometimes make white wine more favorable than red wine.
Most of the prominent reasons are the red wine’s tannins and heat from the cooking. Tannins are excellent for breaking down fat. However, it also has a bold flavor and higher acidity.
When paired with cooking, the wine can reduce its moisture and turn into a glaze. The amount of tannins is a big problem for red wines. Since the water is gone, the flavors are a lot more intense.
The tannins from the red wine will become pungent and astringent, resulting in a sour and bitter taste. It could be great for certain meat dishes, but red wine produces too much flavor for sauces and glaze.
Meanwhile, white wines are more mellow in flavor. They are reducing it to a glaze when cooking will produce a mild sour-sweet glaze rather than sour and bitter.
The other is the acidity of the wine. Red wine is much more acidic than white wine. While it is an excellent companion to tough meat such as beef, it can become too overpowering for sauces and glaze.
Benefits of White Wine in Cooking
Now that we established what white wine is the best and how it fares versus red wine, let’s get into the benefits it provides to your dishes.
When it comes to cooking, moisture is an integral part. Whether it be pastry, meat, or sauce, keeping a balance in the water content can make and break the dish. Most of the time, water and stock are the typical ingredients for moisture. However, white wine is also an excellent substitute.
Water is tasteless and mellow, while stock can be too overpowering. Adding a small drop of wine can balance the flavors and provide the proper moisture.
Brightens Up the Flavors
Due to their mellow yet acidic nature, white wines are perfect for letting the flavors of your dish out. This benefit is especially prominent with meat dishes. The high acidity can break down the fats and let the flavors of the glaze or broth seep into the meat.
White wine is also commonly added to bold and meaty sauces. Red wine has more intense flavors, so white wines are the best choice to liven up the spice flavors. The flavors of the food are not just elevated through the taste. Most wines can add a delicious effect to the aroma and fragrance of the food.
Excellent Balance Between Acidity and Sweetness
Besides being a flavor enhancer and substitute for moisture, white wine offers an excellent balance of acidity and sweetness.
Ingredients such as balsamic vinegar or stock are great but can become too overpowering and mess up the dish’s flavors. By using white wine, you can have a perfect balance of flavors, so you wouldn’t have to pick between too much and too little.
This guide on what white wine is good for cooking provides you with five different types. With an explanation of the benefits of white wine in your cooking, make sure to use some in your next dish if you haven’t tried it yet.