Wine is life, so why limit yourself with just drinking it?

Remember the first time you bite into a linguine with white wine clam sauce, lobster bisque with sherry? How about that savory chicken Marsala?

Cooking with wine brings tasteful surprises, including balance, acidity, fruit and body to some of our favorite dishes. After you move past grocery store “cooking wine” and introduce better-priced wine into the equation, your possibilities and cooking style will expand like a charm. The accepted rule is, “If you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it.”

Selecting a wine for cooking

As wine cooks, it becomes an integrated part of the dish, and subtle tones are almost always lost; so, a high-quality wine should be used for cooking and eating alongside the cooked dish. If you’re looking to buy wine online in NZ, then suppliers like Advintage is a good place to start your hunt.

It may sound counterintuitive, but stop buying wines labeled as “cooking wines” because they often contain salt and other additives – you don’t want that. Choose instead dry, unoaked, or medium-bodied wines.

5 Styles of Wine Commonly Used for Cooking

  1. Crisp White Wine, using Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and the like. This is your basic go-to category. Choose a wine that contains a moderate alcohol content (about 10 and 13 percent), and generous acidity. This is because highly alcoholic wines can take longer to reduce and often will not have the right acidity, which adds brightness, while soaking.
  2. Sherry. This wine is very versatile. How versatile? It can be used for deglazing, bringing depth to a cream sauce, and is a perfect add-on to appetizers like oysters.
  3. Marsala. Although delicious in its own right, Marsala can be used in braised preparations. For starters, you can use Marsala for the decadent Italian dessert, zabaglione.
  4. Madeira. Produced using four different styles, Madera is a Portuguese fortified wine hailing from the islands of Madeira. Pick “Sercial,” a dry style that can also serve as a refreshing aperitif. Blend Madeira in a sauce for classic Beef Wellington, as an addition to gravy, or in virtually any recipe like Sherry.
  5. Sparkling Wine. Ahhh, of course. Sparkling wine is perfectly suited as a Champagne vinaigrette or a sorbet, and it is also an amazing substitute for dry or white wine in beurre blanc. All bubbles dissipate after cooking.

How to use wine for cooking

Wine is generally used to add flavor to give exciting new flavor to sauces and for marinating and deglazing. Keep in mind that wine’s flavor can concentrate if you reduce it, so if you’re looking for a sweeter sauce, choose a Port or other fortified wine, and if it’s a jammy sauce that you want, go for something with a full body. Wine needs at least 3 to 4 minutes after adding it to a recipe; this allows the flavor a chance to blend.

Wine Buying Tip

There’s no hard rules that exist for picking a variety of wine. Some dishes benefit from a wine with more acidity, while others from a wine with more fruitiness. Many recipes call for dry red wine, and typically, that includes Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz/Syrah, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sangiovese, Zinfandel, and Cabernet Franc.


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