9 Best Dry White Wines For Cooking
Take your dishes to the next level with the dry white wine of your culinary dreams! We recommend our favorite dry whites in today's guide.
Cooking with white wine isn't just something chefs do to look good. Adding quality white wine to your cooking brings out fruity and acidic flavors that just can't be replicated in any other way.
If you've ever been to a restaurant and tried white wine clam sauce or savoury chicken masala then you will know exactly what I'm talking about.
Today, we recommend our favorite dry wines for cooking and explain what to look for in a good cooking wine.
To put it as succinctly as possible, the best white wines for cooking are those that are dry and crisp.
While you may enjoy those rich and oaky white wines to drink, they can become bitter during cooking and aren't worth using.
You may enjoy sweet white wines like Riesling when drinking, however, these can actually caramelize and add unwanted sweetness to your meals.
The motto here is, just because you enjoy drinking some white wines, does not mean they will be good for cooking.
Our Recommended Dry White Wines for Cooking
Take a look at our recommend cooking wines in the table below before we discuss them in more detail in the following section.
Find out why we think they're great and what type of dishes they are perfect for.
Attems Cupra Ramato Pinot Grigio, 2014
Pascal Jolivet Attitude Sauvignon Blanc, 2013
Arinzano Hacienda de Arinzano White, 2014
Dry Creek Vineyard Dry Chenin Blanc, 2015
Ravines Dry Riesling, 2014
Broadbent Rainwater Madeira
Lanson White Label Sec
Hidalgo Napoleon Amontillado Sherry
The White Knight Prosecco
9. Attems Cupra Ramato Pinot Grigio, 2014
As I already mentioned, Pinot Grigio is one of the most versatile white wines when it comes to cooking.
So, no surprises it's a Pinot Grigio that's my favorite cooking wine!
I really enjoy cooking with the Attems Cupra Ramato Pinot Grigio, 2014. This is the best dry white wine for cooking seafood and it's also great for red meat and risotto dishes too.
Produced in Italy, it's made according to a traditional recipe dating from the Republic of Venice.
According to this practice, the skin of the grapes remains in contact with the must for 24 hours. This gives the wine a distinctive coppery hue and a rich fruity flavor.
One of my favorite recipes is chicken with honey citrus glaze and Pinot Grigio. However, you could cook something like spaghetti with seafood with Pinot Grigio too.
8. Pascal Jolivet Attitude Sauvignon Blanc, 2013
Another versatile dry white wine for cooking is Sauvignon Blanc.
This particular wine has a delicate and fresh bouquet. Its taste reminds me of fresh grass and there are wonderful apple and citrus aromas.
It's an excellent choice for fish or seafood dishes, but also for cooking healthy vegetable side dishes.
But don’t be fooled by the subtle flavor of this wine. Sauvignon Blanc is also great for grilled meat.
I actually love using Sauvignon Blanc when cooking grilled lamb, as it gives the heavy meat a light freshness.
This wine also represents an excellent choice for truffles or mushroom sauce, duck dishes or fruit salads. Don’t use it for spicy dishes though.
I always use this Pascal Jolivet Attitude Sauvignon Blanc, 2013 to cook. It has a gentle texture and a well-integrated acidity that pairs well with almost all Mediterranean recipes.
7. Arinzano Hacienda de Arinzano White, 2014
A white wine that can add richness to almost all dishes is Chardonnay.
This wine typically has a delicious aroma of mature fruit, such as apples, pineapples, and bananas.
Chardonnay wines slightly change flavor depending on where they are produced, as the taste of the grapes is different in different parts of the world.
When it comes to choosing a Chardonnay for cooking, I like very much this Arinzano Hacienda de Arinzano, 2014 from Spain.
This wine has a rich fruity bouquet and an alcohol concentration of 13.5% is perfect for cooking.
Chardonnay can add a special flavor to many different dishes, including fatty fish or chicken.
I like to use this wine especially for my special recipes, such as risotto with strawberries and thyme.
6. Hidalgo Napoleon Amontillado Sherry
If you’re searching for the perfect wine to cook both main dishes and desserts, then a sherry wine should be your choice.
I recommend you try this Hidalgo Napoleon Amontillado Sherry, produced in Spain according to the traditional aging methods.
I love cooking with this particular sherry mostly because it is originated from Manzanilla wine and has a more delicate body compared to the sherry originated from Fino wine.
Its subtle flavors of almonds, aromatic herbs, and mocha, together with the alcoholic concentration of 17.5%, makes this sherry my number one choice when it comes to preparing fine dishes, such as veal with sherry sauce and grilled vegetables.
This sherry also gives a special flavor to homemade bread. When it comes to desserts, the sherry gives that extra touch to chocolate cakes or mousses and it can also be successfully used for the famous tiramisu.
5. Dry Creek Vineyard Dry Chenin Blanc, 2015
Probably the less famous among the white wines is the Chenin Blanc. Despite being almost unknown, this wine is one of the oldest white wines in the world and has its origins in France.
Used in the past for the production of low-quality wines, Chenin is slowly starting to regain its deserved position in the category of fine wines.
It has a higher acidity compared to the most famous white wines and aftertastes of various fruits.
There are many wineries producing Chenin Blanc, but in my opinion, this Dry Creek Vineyard Dry Chenin Blanc, 2015 is the best choice for cooking. I usually use this dry wine when cooking Asian dishes.
Hailing from Creek Vineyard, California it has expressive aromas of pineapple, white pear and banana, with a fresh aftertaste of tangerine.
Chenin Blanc is an excellent choice for fish dishes and also for some desserts, such as Mont Blanc cake.
4. Ravines Dry Riesling, 2014
Mainly used for the finest dishes, Riesling is more versatile than one might think.
Riesling has its origins in Germany, being a wine with a strong character and a delicious flavor of citrus and fruits.
Nowadays, Riesling is produced worldwide and the final character of the wine is influenced by the geographic area where it is made.
When it comes to cooking I recommend this Ravines Dry Riesling, 2014 produced in New York.
This wine is characterized by a delicate bouquet with intricate aromas of citrus, pear, apple, and flowers, being an excellent choice for the preparation of meat dishes, such as pork with Riesling sauce, veal scallop, or chicken with sour cream and Riesling.
If you wish to cook something more special, you could try a Riesling pudding with pumpkin mousse, grilled octopus with shrimp carpaccio and melon or stuffed seabass with mushrooms and shrimps served with beet hummus and stuffed pumpkin flowers.
Related: White wine with steak? Surely not!
3. Broadbent Rainwater Madeira
One of the finest wines in the world, Madeira wine is excellent for cooking purposes too.
Produced in the Madeira region in Portugal, this wine is aged in oak barrels for at least three years before bottling.
Madeira wine is produced in four noble varieties: Sercial, Verdelho, Bual, and Malmsey.
The first two varieties are dry and medium-dry, and these are the varieties recommended for cooking.
Although Madeira wine is produced in a cheap version for cooking purposes only, I wouldn’t recommend purchasing this variety since it is not as noble as the varieties destined to drinking.
Instead, if you want to fully exploit the toffee-scented bouquet of a true Madeira, you could choose this Broadbent Rainwater Madeira.
Rainwater Madeira is one of the lightest varieties of this wine and can be used for the preparation of both main dishes and desserts.
You could use it, for example, for wild boar stew or braised lamb shank with Madeira sauce.
When it comes to desserts, the most famous is, without any doubt, the Madeira cake.
2. Lanson White Label Sec
Even if not many know it, sparkling white wines can be successfully used for cooking fine dishes.
I usually use sparkling wines when I cook special dinners for family and friends, but you should know that sparkling wines are more versatile than you might think when it comes to cooking.
While you could use the finest champagne for cooking purposes, I believe that an excellent choice is this Lanson White Label Sec, a sparkling white wine produced in the Champagne region in France.
This wine has a delicate bouquet of white flowers and pear, being ideal for fish or seafood risottos.
One of my favorite dishes is lobster cooked in champagne with pilaf rice, but you can also use this wine for Champagne risotto, a dish that will certainly impress your guests
1. The White Knight Prosecco
Prosecco is different from Champagne, or from any other sparkling wine, as a matter of fact, as it is produced solely using glera grapes from the northern regions of Italy.
The White Knight Prosecco, has a more fruity character compared to champagne, presenting aromas of peach, citrus, apple and acacia flowers. I usually use this wine when cooking Italian dishes or desserts.
Dishes like lobster in seafood sauce with prosecco, shrimps with prosecco sauce or grilled salmon with risotto (using this wine as a risotto base) are all excellent suggestions.
It can also be used for meat dishes, especially when cooking veal and lamb.
Prosecco wine can be used for the desserts as well. You can use it to make a sweet sauce for a fruit salad or in the preparation of sweets, such as apple and plum mousse with prosecco.
The 5 Best Varieties of Wine to Use for Cooking
If you'd like to try and discover your own perfect dry white wine for cooking with then you're about to start an exciting period of experimentation!
These are the types of wine we recommend concentrating on if it's for cooking purposes.
1. Dry Crisp White Wines
Dry crisp white wines are the best choice for cooking but which actual varieties should you use?
In my opinion, the best dry white wines to cook with are are Pinot Grigio, unoaked Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Another thing to note when choosing which dry white wine to buy is the alcohol percentage because you don't want anything too strong.
Go for dry crisp white wines that have an alcohol percentage of 10 to 13%.
The higher the alcohol percentage, the longer it will take to reduce and the less acidity it will add to the meal.
Remember, acidity is one of the main contributions that these types of wine bring to the dish so it would be a crime to lose it!
Out of these three wine varieties Pinot Grigio is the most sought after for cooking as it is highly versatile.
However the other two certainly have their advantages.
The Sauvignon Blanc is the first choice if cooking seafood dishes and unoaked Chardonnay being first choice if you're looking to add richness to your recipes.
This may sound odd but I would avoid buying white wines that are specifically labelled “cooking wines” because they actually contain additives and high salt levels.
They certainly aren't used in quality restaurants.
There are some recipes that simply call for a splash (or more than a splash) of sherry to give it a bit of a kick.
You can always keep a bottle of sherry in the kitchen readily available for when you want to add something extra to your soups or casseroles as it keeps for a while after opening.
Sherry is best used when you want to deglaze, add a bit of depth to cream sauces, and to accompany seafood dishes such as oysters.
3. Marsala White Wine
Chicken marsala is an obvious classic and favorite among almost everyone and anyone.
However, not many people realize that they can use marsala white wine in many other dishes too for added flavor and even desserts.
4. Sparkling White Wine
Not many people would think to use sparkling white wine to cook with, however, you most certainly can!
It is ideal for champagne vinaigrette if you truly wish to show off at your next dinner party.
It's also great for making sorbets too.
If you have any leftover sparkling white wine after a party then use it to cook rather than throw it out.
The bubbles in the sparkling white wine will dissipate during the cooking process anyway, so leftover sparkling wine is perfect.
5. Madeira White Wine
Madeira wine hails from the beautiful Portuguese island of Madeira. It is a fortified wine and comes in a number of different types.
It's 'Sercial' that is most popular when choosing a Madeira wine to cook with.
It's a perfect addition to beef Wellington dish. It can also be used instead of sherry in almost any dish if you so happen to run out of sherry.
Cooking with Wine: Chef's Tips
- Always choose a wine you're willing to drink! Things labelled cooking wines are especially salty and full of preservatives. They'll last forever but don't taste great.
- Once opened a white wine can keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks for cooking purposes. If you want to drink it you'll need to be quicker though. You've got 1 week maximum!
- Dry white wines are great for seafood. Simply add to the broth when steaming clams or mussels.
- The alcohol content of a wine decreases as it cooks. Beware though, it can take up to 3 hours to remove 100% of the alcohol if only cooking at a simmer.
- Reduce wines separately when preparing cream sauces. You should be left with around half of what you started with if the reduction is done properly. Once reduced, it's ready for the cream.
- Maintain acidity levels when adding wine by reducing levels of other acidic ingredients. If adding wine to fish for example, then remember to compensate by cutting amounts of lemon or vinegar.
- Always add wine slowly. This allows flavors to develop. As the wine is reduced, its flavors are concentrated and increased (sweetness and acidity in particular). Strong wines may need periods as long as 10 minutes before extra is added.