Cooking with Wine

Cooking with WineIf a recipe calls for wine, it is not advisable to substitute a cooking wine found on the grocery store shelf. The manufacturer must by law make the alcoholic cooking wines undrinkable by infusing them with large amounts of strong flavoring ingredients, such as salt or MSG. These additions throw recipes based on regular wine out of balance.

As a rule of thumb, use a wine you would drink for cooking. (Most recipes don't call for a whole bottle, and you'll want something to do with the leftovers!) For help selecting a specific wine for cooking, ask our Wine Specialists at our Eagan, Oak Park Heights, Uptown and Woodbury markets.

Many recipes – especially those for popular winter dishes such as soups, stews, sauces, braises and the like – call for dry (as opposed to sweet) wines. Here are some suggestions by type:

Dry Reds:
Cabernet Sauvignon
Pinot Noir
Zinfandel (may also be fruity – ask your Wine Specialist)

Dry Whites:
Sauvignon Blanc
Chenin Blanc


If you cannot or choose not to cook with alcohol, don't just substitute water in recipes calling for wine. Water lacks acidity and your recipe will end up tasting "flat" (lacking in overall dimension). Instead try substituting using equal parts water and fresh fruit juice (fresh squeezed lemon for white wine, unsweetened red grape or cranberry juice for red). You may also want to add a splash of high-quality rice or balsamic vinegar to temper sweetness.

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