Cooking With White Wine

Cooking with White Wine

White wine is delicious to drink, but it can also be a fantastic ingredient for food as well. It brings a faint hint of crisp acidity and can balance other, stronger flavors in a dish. Adding just a touch of white wine can give intrigue and extra flavor to a basic dish like linguine. If you're seeking to experiment with different recipes, or you'd like to cook a nice dinner for date night, here are some essential tips for cooking with white wine.

Choosing A White Wine

The best wines for cooking are crisp, dry white wines like unoaked chardonnay, pinot grigio, riesling, or sauvignon blanc. Richer, buttery chardonnays can turn bitter, while very sweet wines can make your dish too sugary. Avoid the bolder flavors and select a moderately priced ($8-$13) bottle that has a tangy, dry element. You don't need to spend a lot of money, since the wine will cook within the dish, so skip that expensive bottle in the fridge.

Depending on what you're cooking- whether it's steamed mussels, chicken, or a fettucini dish- you can choose what type of wine you want to match the food's flavor. Pinot grigio is considered the most versatile of the three. Sauvignon blanc goes well in seafood and pasta dishes, while chardonnay adds a rich taste to meats and vegetables.

When you're selecting a wine, try to avoid anything labeled "cooking wine." These can have salt or preservatives, and they don't taste particularly nice as a drinking wine. Ideally, you want to find an uncorked white wine that you can add into your dish, but also drink at the dinner table to pair with your meal.

Which White Wines Match With My Dish?

Richer wines like chardonnay work well when you're cooking heavy cream sauces, chicken, sausage, or gravy. Many chefs will use chardonnay in chicken dishes that already have strong flavors, such as garlic or onions. The buttery chardonnay gives the chicken a rich taste to help balance out the sometimes overpowering ingredients already in the dish. If you're making a hearty meal with strong elements, you may want to consider using a dash of chardonnay.

If you're cooking seafood, you want a crisper, more delicate wine like pinot grigio that contains a slightly acidic taste. Shellfish and fish benefit from a sautee in pinot grigio, giving them a slightly fruity and mineral taste. Clams, mussels, and oysters all taste delicious steamed in a crisp white wine sauce that helps cut through the fattier, richer taste.

Vegetables can also benefit from white wine. Sauvignon Blanc's floral flavors can spice up a regular vegetable side dish. Veggies like spinach, artichoke, bell peppers, and mushrooms receive a whole new taste dimension with a splash of wine in the pan. You'll want a very light, dry Sauvignon Blanc for cooking your vegetables, but they should be easy enough to find at your local wine store.

White wine is a wonderful drink and also a terrific cooking ingredient. Best of all, once you've added it to your dish, you can serve the remainder at the table. Bon appetit!

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