Easy Tips to Cook with Wine

Just a splash? What kind of wine? We answer your questions

We like to use wine in slow cooking to add richness to a dish, and adding a splash of wine at the end can enhance the flavor even more. But how do you know which wine to cook with? Here are some guidelines to get you stirring and sipping your way to a delicious meal.

The Drink It First Rule

Only cook with a wine that you would happily drink by itself (in fact, go ahead and do that while you’re cooking!). Much of the alcohol evaporates while cooking, but the flavors remain. Any wine marketed specifically for cooking (we’re looking at you, cooking sherry) is usually horrible and should be avoided.

No Generic Stuff

Some recipes generically call for "dry white wine" and "dry red wine." What to do? For white wine, use sauvignon blanc or sancerre. Fresh and herbal with just the right amount of acidity, these wines work wonders in any dish. For red wine, pair the heartiness of the dish with the heartiness of the wine. A thick, flavorful stew needs a correspondingly big-bodied wine, such as shiraz, zinfandel, or a red from the south of Spain, Italy, or France. A light dish calls for a light red like pinot noir or sangiovese.

Fortified to the Rescue

Fortified wines like port, madeira, and nutty sherries like amontillado and oloroso all pack a big flavor punch. Bonus: once opened, they can be used for several months. Port’s rich, sweet flavor pairs well with meaty casseroles; sherry’s roasted nut flavors are a boon to soups; and madeira’s caramel fruitiness works wonders in Mediterranean sautés.

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