What is Cooking Wine? A Guide

The wine you drink is different than the wine you cook with. If you are surprised, you’re not the only one. Many chefs love using wine to boost flavors of ingredients. 

What is cooking wine? How is it any different than the wine you drink?

What is Cooking Wine?

So technically, any wine you use can be considered cooking wine, but wine meant specifically for cooking is full of alcohol and salt, and a bunch of preservatives. Depending on the brand, it can last up to sixteen months. Most of the time, chefs use this type of wine while using smallwares like saucepans or pots because wine is excellent for sauces. 

You really don’t want to drink cooking wine. It tastes like pure salt. When you cook with cooking wine, you should consider that whenever a recipe says to add salt. You’ll also taste all the preservatives too. 

What is cooking wine good for? Well, since it has a higher alcohol content, it reacts to heat and food in a way to add complex flavors. 

While you don’t want to drink the wine, it may be useful for your cooking to try a small bit of it. By doing this, you will know how salty the flavor is and will be able to adjust the meal’s taste to your personal preference. 

What is Cooking Wine? A Guide

Types of Cooking Wine

There are different types of cooking wine because certain ones work better with specific dishes than others. 

Red Wine

What is cooking wine that’s good for soup and seafood? Dry red wine falls under the drinking wine section, but it’s great with mussels, cream soups, clams, beef stews, and wine-based sauces. 

Regular red wine is good for meat like chicken, pork, beef, and lamb. To make the meat taste good, try to pair the wine like you would if you were drinking it with the meal. 

White Wine

Like with red, this is also drinking wine and works with the same style of dishes as red wine, dry or regular.

Nutty Wine

What is this cooking wine good for? Nutty wines can be both dry and sweet, making it great for syrups for desserts. It’s usually aged for around ten years, but some are aged up to forty years. You can reduce them to make a caramel tasting sauce. 

Oxidized Wine

Every oxidized wine is different and will taste different with your meal. Make sure to do your research on each brand. They can add a much richer taste to any dish, unlike dry wines. 

They are perfect for mushroom gravy on chicken and pork chops, and fish like halibut and shrimp. 

Sweet Wine

What is cooking wine good for when it comes to sweet food? 

There are sweet wines in both red and white to cook with. Red works well for chocolate cakes, chocolate sauces, savory Port sauces for red meat with blue cheese, and Port reduction syrup. Sweet white wine is suitable for sauces for fruit tarts, poaching pears, and butter sauce for seafood.  

Rice Wine

There are two different styles of rice wine, Japanese and Chinese. The Chinese may not be considered a wine because it must be distilled to get an ABV score of thirty-five percent. What is this cooking wine used for? It’s used to add sourness to stir-fries. 

Japanese rice wine can also be called Mirin and has an ABV score of eight to twelve percent. It has a salty and sweet taste and is usually used as a glaze or barbeque sauce.

Reasons to Cook with Wine

Using wine in cooking is actually a great way to cut out fat from recipes. When you take the fat out, food tends to lose moisture. Wine brings that moisture back and adds flavor. It can replace or reduce the need for oil or butter. 

How to Store Cooking Wine

What is cooking wine like when it comes to storage? Do you need to store it in any particular way? Like with drinking wine, you can store it just about anywhere as long as it’s not too hot. If you have any open space on your restaurant food equipment, like a shelf, you can place it there. 

Once you open it though, it’s best to pop it your restaurant fridge. Keeping it cool will make it last longer than having it out in the open. 

Can You Cook with Regular Wine? 

Yes, in fact, there is a big debate among chefs about which type of wine is better. What is cooking wine known for? For some people, it is known for being cheap and bad tasting. 

Many people believe that you should never cook with a wine that you wouldn’t drink. The thought process is that if you don’t want to drink it, why would you want it to flavor your food? 

Just like with the salty taste that comes with using cooking wine, you will need to keep in mind that the flavor of drinking wine will influence your food. 

While drinking wine doesn’t last as long as cooking wine, you can use drinking wine for cooking for about two months after you can no longer drink it. You can make the wine last longer by pouring it into ice cube trays and freezing them. You can use each cube for about six months after it’s too gross for drinking. 

The heat of cooking, like with a restaurant induction cooktop, can get rid of small flavors in fancier wine, so it’s best to use newer wines than older ones. 

Any Wine Can Be Cooking Wine

While there are specific cooking wines, any wine can be used in a dish. The answer to “what is cooking wine?” is whatever wine you want to cook with. Whether you are on the side of cooking wine or don’t use what you wouldn’t drink side, different wines create different flavors. 

Don’t be afraid to experiment and create dishes you never thought of before. Have fun with using wine while cooking, and depending which type of wine you use, maybe enjoy a few sips of it too. 

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