Adding wine to your food can help to lift the flavors of the dish to the next level. Whether you are making a creamy sauce, a vinaigrette, a hearty meat pie or an elegant pasta dish, adding wine can help to make it extra special.
There are lots of delicious recipes that require a dash of white wine, or sometimes much more of it! White wine is often used in white sauces, seafood dishes, vegetarian meals, and with chicken or pork.
If you want to make sure that your meals taste as wonderful as possible then you will need to choose the right wine to cook with. It can make a big difference to the overall flavor of the dish. But which white wine should you use?
There are lots of different types of white wine with various flavor notes, dryness, acidity, and mouth feel.
If possible, you should choose a wine that will complement the specific recipe that you are cooking in order to bring out the flavor of the other ingredients and create a well balanced dish. It can be overwhelming to try to find the right wine when there are so many to choose from.
To make things easier for you, we have put together a list of the 8 best white wines to use for cooking. Keep on reading to find out more!
Wine Tasting Terms
Before we delve into the list, there are some general terms that you should understand when it comes to describing wine.
If you don't have much experience with tasting wine then you might not be familiar with these terms, but they are important when it comes to finding the right wine to cook with.
You will often see wine described in terms of its dryness. This refers to how much or little sugar is left in the wine after the fermenting process. Dry wines have very little sugar left in them, whereas sweet wines have more sugar.
Another element of the wine that is often considered when tasting is the acidity. Wines with a high acidity have a crisp finish and are more tart. Wines with less acidity are smoother and rounder on the palate.
Using oak barrels to age the wine contributes to the flavor by adding a smoky element. It also releases tannins into the wine which also impact the flavor and the color.
The aroma of the wine is important as it can help to bring out certain flavors and enhance the tasting experience.
The Best White Wines For Cooking
Some people choose to use cheap wine that is not very pleasant. They believe that the flavor of the wine is not very important as it is going to be cooked. However, this is incorrect. You should never cook with a wine that you wouldn't like to drink out of a glass.
It is rare that a recipe will call for a whole bottle of wine, so if you choose a pleasant wine then you will be able to enjoy the rest of the bottle with your meal. If you are having guests to dinner, then make sure you buy an extra bottle, so there is enough to go around.
A lot of recipes that use white wine will call for a wine with high acidity to cut through the rich, creaminess of the other ingredients. It will also need to have little oakiness, as not to interfere with the flavors on the dish.
Here are 8 of the best white wines to cook with.
OUR TOP PICK
This delicious wine is a type of Chenin that is made in the Loire Valley in France. The alcohol percentage is 13 percent. It has a high acidity and is very crisp and refreshing in the mouth.
The flavors of tart, zesty citrus, fresh green apples and delicate white flowers come through clearly. It has a very summery feel.
This wine is ideal for seafood dishes, particularly mussels or oysters. It can hold its own against strong flavors like garlic and herbs so you can also use it in a lot of dishes.
This white wine is a type of Chardonnay from the Burgundy region of France and has an alcohol percentage of 13%. It is only very lightly oaked, with a perfectly balanced flavor.
The main flavor notes are citrus fruits like lemon and sweet honey, with a creamy finish. The wine is quite acidic and coats the palate, with the flavor lasting long after you have swallowed your mouthful.
This wine would be perfect for making a creamy, lemon sauce to accompany chicken. The citrus flavor will complement the lemon, whilst the acidity will cut through the richness of the cream. It would also go well with many other recipes.
Pinot blanc is dry, but it isn't bitter. This one comes from Alsace, France and it has an alcohol percentage of 12.5%.
It is extremely refreshing, with a fruity yet floral flavor. The Main tasting notes are pear, flowers and zingy orange rind. It also has the sweetness of honey.
If you are looking for a wine to use in a fish dish then this is one of the best choices. It is especially ideal for salmon, but would also work well with haddock or cod.
Pinot Grigio is one of the most widely drunk white wines in the United States. This one is made in the Collio Goriziano region of Italy and it is particularly versatile.
It is crisp and acidic with a light feel in the mouth. This is a complex wine, with fruity notes of raspberry and black cherry, a savory flavor of mushroom, and a warm spiced finish.
This will be the perfect wine to use in seafood dishes, or in a vinaigrette for a crisp salad. It also goes really nicely with green vegetables. Due to the versatility of this wine, you can use this wine in pretty much any recipe that calls for white wine.
This particular white wine is a Riesling. Riesling is known for usually being sweet, but some Rieslings are very dry. This is a perfect example of a dry Riesling, and it is from the Rheinhessen region of Germany.
It has an alcohol percentage of 12%. It is very acidic which means it can be used in lots of different sauces. You should be able to pick up notes of wet slate, apple skin and minerals.
You could use this wine to make the classic dish 'Poulet au Riesling', but it also goes well with many other types of chicken dishes. You can even use it to baste a roast chicken.
This Californian wine is a brilliant choice for creamy sauces and dishes. It is bold and acidic, and is considered to be one of the best wines to come out of California.
It has mostly fruity notes of cantaloupe melon and white peach, with a floral yet earthy touch of lavender. The acidity of the wine cuts through the high fat content of the cream.
It can also stand up to strong fish flavors, so you can use it in all sorts of seafood dishes. Like many crisp white wines, it pairs well with fresh green vegetables.
One of the most popular recipes that calls for white wine is risotto. There are plenty of Italian wines you can choose from, but if you want to try something different then give this Californian Chardonnay a try.
It is unoaked, which is perfect for a meal like risotto which has a combination of delicate flavors.
It is very fruity, with tasting notes of green apples, citrus fruits and tropical fruits. This makes it the ideal base for savory risotto, as the fruit will pair well with cheese, vegetables, and meat.
If you cannot find an unoaked chardonnay then try to use a lightly oaked one instead, or even a white Rhone.
As Pinot Grigio is so popular, we have included another one on the list. This is also from Italy, but the Terre Siciliane region in the South which borders the Mediterranean Sea.
This means that the flavors are incredible.
You will notice an interesting flavor of pickled ginger, along with the fruity notes of citrus, apples and stone fruit. This wine is crisp and well rounded which makes it a wonderful choice for lots of different recipes.
It goes particularly well with vegetables, salads, and shellfish. Prawns cooked with a white wine sauce would be a great recipe to use this wine for.
There are lots of different white wines that you can use for cooking. If you cannot find the ones on this list, look out for some that have similar tasting notes and acidity levels.
Remember to choose dry wines rather than sweet wines, and to make sure that they have little to no oakiness.
If you aren't sure, then you can take your recipe to a local wine merchant and see what they would recommend. Often, the recipe will suggest a specific variety of wine.
This is because the flavor notes and the acidity work well in the dish, so it is best to go with the recommendation if possible.
Whichever wine you choose to use in your recipe, you can also serve alongside the dish to drink. This will help to accentuate the flavor of the wine in the dish. Make sure you have enough wine to serve to all of your guests.
If you are serving the same wine for each course, then you will probably need several bottles.