What's the deal in white wine in cooking?

I ate a pasta dish a while back that had white wine as an ingredient.

I told someone about the dish and how I liked it because I could taste the wine, he told me that you are not supposed to taste the wine and the wine is a “cooking” wine and not “regular” wine.

So what’s the deal with wine in food, how is it supposed to be used?

“Cooking” wine is heavily salted so your teenagers / maid won’t drink it. At least that’s what I was told, though wiki disagrees. That said, regular wine is used all the time in cooking, and does contribute to the flavor of the dish that it’s in, although generally the alcohol boils off when the wine is heated.

I think most cooks would agree that if you wouldn’t drink it, you shouldn’t cook with it. You definitely would not drink what is sold as “cooking” wine.

It is not true that all the alcohol boils out of the wine. Depending how long the sauce is cooked, it’s entirely possible that you tasted the wine (and its alcohol) in it. If you’re not supposed to taste the wine, why in the world would you cook with it?

You cook with it because there a myriad of flavors that are alcohol-soluble, not water-soluble. Wine releases these flavors into the food. That’s why I always put a dollop of red wine or vermouth into my pasta sauces.


That’s great, because I never said it did.

Alcohol != wine flavor. If you pour some red wine into a sauce, then cook it for a while (depleting the alcohol either a little or a lot), you will retain the red wine flavor. In fact, I personally think cooking the wine into the sauce for a while mingles the flavors more favorably, but YMMV. I don’t speak for white wine, since I rarely cook with it, but I’d be surprised if the wine flavor disappeared as the alcohol cooked away.


Even if all the alcohol does boil off, you should still be able to taste the wine flavor. That’s the whole point of adding it. It doesn’t matter how long you cook it for, the flavor of the wine isn’t going anywhere. (And no, it’s not made with added salt.) Your friend was wrong. Cooking wine is just really bad quality wine that’s not even all that cheap, considering the size of the bottle. But you can buy it in a grocery store that may not carry wines, like if you’re in a dry area.

Last night, I made slow-braised beef short ribs. I had run out of wine, but I had a bottle of non-alcoholic red wine here, and I used some of it. It was great in the dish, and there was no difference in flavor between the non-alcoholic wine and the usual stuff.

Did you read the wiki article linked above?

squeegee, I can see why you thought I was contradicting you, but I hadn’t seen your post when I hit “submit” on mine. My apologies to you! No harm, no foul, I hope.

OK, that’s funny – it looked entirely to me like you were answering my post. So I’ll apologize in turn then: if I sounded terse or angry, that wasn’t my intent, and I apologize for that and for misinterpreting your post.

A neat trick for storing wine for cooking that’s been opened/partially drank for a couple days is to pour it into an ice cube tray and freeze it. Whenever you need some wine to cook with, just pop out a couple cubes and toss into hot skillet/pan and presto! It’ll keep forever.

Oh, so I am not supposed to put wine back in the fridge after I’ve opened it?

You can certainly do that. If you’re talking about wine you will also be drinking (you should always cook with wine you would also drink), I’d definitely put it in the fridge if you don’t drink much daily, as it will keep much longer. But if its been laying about for a few days and close to going south, doing as I suggested will at least enable you to get more use out of it rather than pouring it down the sink.

No, because I was respondingto your “heavily salted so that the teenagers won’t drink it” statement.

I recently saw a show of Nigella Lawson’s Express which is all about cooking good stuff utilising as many shortcuts as is practicable. It is quite interesting. She did a quick bolognese sauce (which she ate without pasta, just a bowl of meat sauce) and said almost the same thing about wine. So to get over that she used Marsala on the basis that the makers had done some of the reducing for you. Her other cunning trick in that recipe was using a jar of caramelized onions rather than starting by slowly cooking onions. They aren’t available here but I keep batches of frozen caramelized onions I make in the crockpot for adding to stews or sandwiches. burgers, hot dogs etc.

We’ve never had the problem of “leftover wine,” but the freezing trick is the way to go. For everyday use, there are four-packs of Sutter Cab and Chardonnay minis available.

That link is in the same post you were responding to, all of one sentence away.

Holland House being the ubiquitous supermarket cooking [del]swill[/del] “wine”.

CMC fnord!

that shit is the nastiest crap you can buy … never cook with anything you wouldn’t drink!

There are some very nice box wines that are great for cooking, and are about the level of mixing with fruit juice for sangria or serving over ice as the plonk you drink when nobody is around to be impressed :smiley:

I … I don’t think I could be friends with anyone who used a cooking “wine”, much less eat their food. As for when I cook, I use the Keith Floyd-patented “one for the pot, one for me” method. So it’s high-end stuff, the $4-$5 range wines.