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In Good Taste

How to Cook With Wine

How to Cook With Wine

Which Wines are Best for Cooking?

Wine is a nice addition to just about every moment in life, and it makes the perfect companion to a delicious meal. In fact, wine and food pair so well together that some recipes even call for wine as a special ingredient to add some depth and flavor. Should you start adding a splash of wine to your dishes? Which dishes would do well with wine added as an ingredient? You may be curious what difference it will make, and which wines you should use or avoid. We are so glad that you asked because we are ready to discuss it all. Let’s delve a little bit deeper into the world of cooking with wine, and talk about why it just may be your secret ingredient to creating some amazing cuisines.

How is Wine Used in Cooking?

Wine is a versatile ingredient in the culinary world that has a plethora of uses. It can be used to add depth to the flavor of a cream sauce, to deglaze a dish, as part of a marinate, or to tenderize a cut of meat. Marsala is a delicious addition to chicken and veal dishes, a splash of Sauvignon Blanc adds a zestiness to any seafood pasta or shellfish appetizer, Cabernet Sauvignon creates a nice richness and tenderness to braised short ribs, and sherry enhances the mouthwatering depth in a She-crab soup. Surprisingly, those are just a few of the several ways that you can incorporate wine into your food. As if you needed more reasons to love wine, right?

how is wine used in cooking? the most common wines used in cooking are dry, crisp whites with low tannins and a low ABV, somewhere between 10-13%. Imagine something with high acidity, and bright, citrusy notes.

The most common wines used in cooking are dry, crisp whites with low tannins and a low ABV, somewhere between 10% and 13%. Imagine something with high acidity and bright, citrusy notes. These wines are the most versatile in your ingredient arsenal, as they pair well with most dishes that call for wine as an ingredient. Red wines are also used but are not quite as common.

So, which types of white and red wines are best suited for your cooking ventures? Not to worry, we have answers! Read on to find out more about some specific varietals to keep an eye out for when you find a must-try recipe that lists wine as an ingredient.

As a general rule, it’s a good idea to cook with a wine that you enjoy drinking on its own. If it doesn’t taste good to you in the glass, it won’t taste good in a dish either. Plus, it’s likely that you won’t have to use the whole bottle, so you get the added benefit of sipping on some wine while you prepare your food.

Best White Wines to Cook With

Like we have already mentioned, the best white wines to cook with are those that are dry, crisp, and have a high acidity. Specifically, there are a few varietals to keep in mind when prepping for a dish, so let’s narrow it down:

Cooking with Chardonnay

For a nice addition to some creamy sauces, look no further than Chardonnay. Be sure to reach for a stainless barrel-aged rather than an oaked barrel-aged Chardonnay. The oaky notes, when cooked, leave a less than desirable taste in food. Stainless barrel-aged Chardonnays have that bright, acidic flavor that bodes well in a dish. One notable cuisine for which Chardonnay does wonders is Coq au Vin Blanc, or chicken in white wine. 

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc adds an unmistakable brightness to any dish. To experience this firsthand, try it as an ingredient for braising chicken with lemon and garlic. Or, use it when making a veggie pasta dish. 

Pinot Grigio

Seafood, anyone? Pinot Grigio is an excellent addition to shellfish recipes, especially with mussels. It also works well with vegetable side dishes, such as green beans and mushrooms. 

Best Red Wines to Cook With 

When cooking with red wines, it’s important to look for varietals with high acidity, low tannins, and minimal oakiness. Those bold, full-bodied, oaky reds, while delicious in the glass, should stay in the glass. They’re great on their own and don’t necessarily belong in the recipe for a delicious meal. However, for red wines that go well in a recipe, the following choices will not let you down:

Pinot Noir

Pinot is the secret ingredient to delicious sauces for dishes that feature red meat. One such dish that uses this is roast beef tenderloin with Pinot Noir sauce. It also works wonders in charred vegetable ragu. 


If your dish includes mushrooms, give them an extra kick and enhance their savory, earthy flavor by sautéing or slow cooking them with Merlot. 

Cabernet Sauvignon

The unmistakable richness of Cabernet Sauvignon is a must when cooking a hearty meal of braised short ribs, which complements the depth of flavor in the meat and adds an irresistible tenderness to the texture. Be sure to find a Cab with a medium body rather than a full body, as this will do more to complement rather than overpower your dish. 

Just like with white wines, it’s important to pick a wine that you would drink on its own when picking a red to cook with. Trust us, it’s the best way to go!

Wines to Avoid Cooking With

It is important to note that some wines are a better addition to your recipe than others. Technically, it is possible to cook with all wines, but realistically, there are some that are in your best interest to avoid. Don’t worry, this is us looking out for you. 

Firstly, if you can, steer clear of using “cooking wine” in your recipes. This ingredient will typically be found near the vinegar in your grocery store. Cooking wine has had alcohol removed, and it is filled with salt and preservatives to give it a longer shelf life. The alcohol in normal wine evaporates as it cooks, so removing it initially is not necessary. Also, the added salt and preservatives can add some unwanted flavors to your dish. The worst part of all? You won’t have a bottle of wine to enjoy while you cook, because you shouldn’t drink cooking wine like regular wine. It’s not meant for drinking, and it doesn’t taste very good on its own. If you can’t sip while you sauté, what’s the fun in that?

Avoid "cooking wines"

While we’re on the topic, there are a few more characteristics to avoid when looking for wines to cook with. If a wine has an ABV above 13%, avoid it. Alcohol should evaporate over the course of cooking your meal, so if there is too much, your dish could have an unwanted, sharp, alcohol taste.

Avoid High ABV

It’s also best not to use wines that are too sweet, like low ABV Riesling or a sweet Moscato, as they can caramelize and add too much sweetness to your food. We think that seafood pasta dish would do well without an extra sugary flavor, don’t you? Additionally, if a recipe calls for a red wine, pick one that is low on the tannin scale. When tannins are heated, they leave a bitter taste that can overpower the flavors of your dish. When in doubt, refer to the list of varietals above. 

Cook with wines that are low in tanninsAvoid sweet wines

Another factor to consider is that you shouldn’t overspend on a bottle of wine that you plan to cook with. The complexities that expensive bottles of wine are known to have will be overshadowed and cooked away in recipes, so by the time a dish is done, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference if you had used a $10 bottle or a $50 bottle. Save the pricier pours for your glass to drink with your meal! 

Avoid overspending on wine you're going to cook with

Wine Cooking Substitutions

No wine on hand? No worries, there are alternatives that you can use to achieve a similar flavor for recipes that call for a splash of vino. Chicken or vegetable stock, lemon, and red or white wine vinegar are all excellent choices to add depth to the flavor of your food and that bit of zestiness that wine helps a dish achieve.

You don’t have to be a culinary expert to use wine when prepping for your next cuisine, but that doesn’t mean you can’t show off a little and pretend to be one. Show off your newfound knowledge of cooking with wine, and use that bottle to its fullest potential! Just be sure to invite us over the next time you make one of those delicious dishes.

Rosé of Sangiovese


Sangiovese can be found in both the Chianti and Montalcino regions of Tuscany (it all sounds so romantic, right?) and is known for producing classic medium-bodied wines. Rosé wine is actually made from red grapes, and this is where the Rosé of Sangiovese comes to play. Crisp, fruit-forward, and easy-to-drink, it's everything you want in your bottle of Rosé and more.



Big, bold, and full of flavor—exactly what you’d expect an Italian wine to be! This classic Italian grape produces some of Italy’s most straightforward red wines and is often used as a blending grape. Not here, though. We let Montepulciano do the heavy lifting as a heavy red wine and shine on its own. If you enjoy the smell of leather bound books, nibbling on dried fruit, and complementary notes of bitter, dark chocolate and sweet plums, you will love this Italian wine. No need to pair it with any certain dish—Montepulciano tastes great with all the Italian classics.

Cabernet Sauvignon


If Pinot Noir is the light and juicy queen of reds, Cabernet Sauvignon is her bolder, heavier, meatier sister. Often referred to as just “cab,” it’s the wine of France’s Bordeaux and California’s Napa Valley. There’s nothing subtle about Cabernet Sauvignon—high in alcohol, full-bodied and robust, you can usually find this red served with a ribeye, New York Strip, or filet mignon (re: carnivores love cab). Classic cabs usually offer tasting notes of chocolate, coffee, and darker fruits like prunes and plums. The Unprecedented Cabernet Sauvignon is as classic as they come, and we highly recommend letting the bottle sit and mellow until your next red meat and potatoes dinner!

Pinot Grigio

La Pluma

If you’re looking for more zest in your life, a bottle of Pinot Grigio can provide that. We included a classic Pinot Grigio in the La Pluma collection because we’re all about light and easy here, which is exactly what this grape from Italy is. It has that dry sense of humor that seems so effortless with a punchy acidity to keep you on your toes, all while offering notes of lemon, limes, green apples, and honeysuckle. Long story short; when it’s been a heavy day and your soul is seeking light things only, you’ll be happy to have this bottle on hand.

Pinot Noir


We couldn’t create the In Good Taste Unprecedented collection without the Golden Retriever of wines: Pinot Noir. Pinot is likable, it’s easy, and its natural state of being is simply charming. It’s an incredibly easy red wine to love, which is why so many people do. The grape itself is from the Burgundy region of France, but has made its way to California, Oregon, Australia, Italy, Argentina, and Germany since. Our Pinot Noir has no surprise twists—it’s a classic light red with just the right amount of sweetness to keep you coming back for another glass (or two).

Coteaux Bourguignons


The Burgundy region of France is home to their best Pinot Noirs, but we took the grapes into our own hands to create something extra special with our Coteaux Bourguignons. It’s a blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay, which results in a French red that’s light in body but full in flavor. The ripest blueberries and freshest herbs can be easily detected in this French burgundy blend. May we suggest pairing it with some creamy brie and freshly baked bread? It’s a oui-ning combo.



A little sweet. A little tart. A little salty? You truly get it all with this white Italian wine. If you're into that biting acidity, Verdicchio will probably be high on your list of most-loved wines from our Andiamo collection. Citrus fruits like mandarin, lemon, and grapefruit are at the forefront, but what really sets this Italian wine apart is its distinct notes of almond. While our Verdicchio can start out tasting a bit tart, the more you sip, the smoother it becomes. In fact, we suggest approaching it as an aperitif (Italian for an alcoholic drink sipped before a meal to stimulate the appetite) to experience its full effect.


Côtes du Rhône White


This was one of our first French wines to join the Passport collection and one sip will explain why. Some background on the Rhône Valley in France: While this region is known for its dark, juicy reds, a very small amount of special white wines are made in the Rhône Valley. Our Côtes du Rhône is packed with French-perfected, floral flavor and Old-World charm. Its natural tang paired with the weighty Marsanne grape and aromatic Roussanne grape results in a crisp, savory sip that’ll transport you to a sunbathing chair by the Rhône itself.


Bordeaux Rouge


When you picture medieval folk sitting around a feast with goblets of wine, chances are they were drinking Bordeaux. This wine has been made in France since forever and is arguably the most classic French wine out there. Bordeaux is known for its full body, smoky notes, and rich, oaky taste. If you love cabs, chances are you will adore Bordeaux. For our Passport wines, we had to include this classic French red for you to sip and enjoy to your heart’s content. Best savored over a rich meal like lamb ragu, ratatouille, or BBQ.


Ventoux Rosé


You probably know that the Tour de France is held on Ventoux Mountain in France, but did you know that the same area is known for its high-altitude rosé? This is the kind of quintessential French rosé that you don’t need to spin your wheels over—it’s simply delicious, crisp, and perfect for warm weather. Despite its delicate, pale pink color, each sip is lush with flavor, from tropical passionfruit and zesty citrus to refreshing melon. This has the potential to be your new summer go-to, so we’d suggest stocking up.



Wild Child

Say “¡Hola!” to Spain’s main grape: Tempranillo. This red grape put Rioja wine on the map and is un vino tinto classico. It’s best compared to a classic cab, but with a bit more unique magic that’s hard to put your finger on, which is why it’s a part of our Wild Child line. This medium- to full-bodied wine with its relatively higher tannins usually offers complex notes of cherry, fig, cedar, tobacco, and dill. This is the type of red wine you want to buy and pour for a Latin-infused meal; think carne asada, tacos al carbon, or just perfectly cooked steak fajita meat.


La Pluma

We knew the only red in the La Pluma collection had to be exceptionally good and exceptionally light. That’s why including a Grenache was a no-brainer. If smooth, fruit-forward, light-bodied reds appeal to your tastebuds, this could be your new favorite. The grape itself is tricky; depending on the climate of where its grown, Grenache wines could be light, dense, or somewhere in the middle. La Pluma’s version has all the airiness and flavor notes we wanted in our Grenache, which is how we know you’ll love it. Get the most of this red by pairing it with roasted meats, spice-heavy vegetables, and Mexican-inspired dishes with lots of cumin.




This grape goes by different names in most European countries, but what remains the same is its fruity floral nature. Delicate in every way and extremely quaffable, this wine is as dainty as they come.



We really try not to play favorites at In Good Taste, but there is just something about an Italian Barbera that hits different in the best way. Barberas are the perfect wine for pizza night; they're low in alcohol, and medium-bodied but taste super light, and their berry and plum flavors pair incredibly well with savory tomato sauce and cheese! Another fun thing about Barberas? They actually taste great when chilled, which is not something we're in the habit of suggesting for our red wines. Our Italian Barbera lies somewhere between the body of a cab and a pinot and is the ideal choice for a "ladies who lunch" kind of afternoon.


Wild Child

We couldn't not have a weird white in the mix, right?! The Vermentino grape is native along the coast of Italy on the island of Sardinia (yeah, like the fish). Because of its origin, this grape offers a salty, crisp flavor that's incredibly easy to drink and enjoy. We say it's "weird" only because it's not widely known by name, but chances are you've probably had it before if you've ever ordered white wine in an Italian restaurant. If you love peaches and lemons and get a kick out of anything that reminds you of the sea, our Vermentino is the perfect Italian white to experience on a sunny day outside.



For the Chardonnay lovers who are looking to dig a bit deeper in the world of bold whites, a Viognier (pronounced vee-own-yay) could be your next big adventure. Viogniers tend to have more range; while they can be creamy with hints of vanilla like their Chardonnay counterpart, they also offer lighter, fruitier flavors like tangerine, mango, and honeysuckle. It’s still a more full-bodied white wine, but unlike Chardonnay, it’s softer on acidity and more perfumed. Spend an afternoon with a glass of Viognier amongst the flowers and it’ll all make sense.


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