Wine Down Friday: How do I choose a wine for cooking?

May 31, 2013 | By | Comments (1)

As a food editor, one of the most common questions I hear about wine is “What is the best wine for cooking?” With so many types of wines out there, it’s easy to understand why it’s tough to choose.oh3469-wine-l

What does dry red/dry white mean?
When a recipe calls for a dry wine, look for a wine that is not sweet.

For a dry red, I tend to reach for one that has light to moderate tannins and is well balanced with fruit and astringency, like a cabernet sauvignon or a pinot noir. For hearty dishes, like beef or lamb stews, a Burgundy or zinfandel works as well.

For a dry white, sauvignon blanc is a good all-around workhorse. It has a good mixture of herb and citrus flavors to play nicely with delicate flavors like white fish or spring vegetables and enough creaminess to complement a chicken dish.

Do I really need to buy an expensive bottle?
You might hear people say, “Never cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink.” It’s true—to an extent. Although you don’t want to cook with a poor quality wine, there’s no need to get spendy either. There are many good options between $10-20.

What about cooking wines?
Halt. Stop. Don’t buy them. Cooking wines often contain extra sodium and are lower in alcohol and are not an equal substitute.


  1. Don Peden

    I lived in France for 3 years and walked away not really sure what made dry, dry. Thanks for the help. This finally made sense. Don Peden muscle

    June 8, 2013 at 1:58 pm

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