Cooking With Wine

by Diane Lofshult on Feb 01, 2006

Studies have shown that drinking certain wines can have a beneficial effect on cardiovascular health. But do you know the ins and outs of cooking with wine? And what else do you need to consider when serving or cooking with different types of wine?

  • Fortified wines, such as port, sherry, madeira and marsala, contain more alcohol than regular wines and have more intense flavors. Port is especially good in meat casseroles, whereas sherry is great to add to soups and stews. Madeira is tasty with beef, while marsala pairs well with chicken.
  • Dry white wines, like chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and pinot gris, are good with fish or chicken and in cream sauces. However, California chardonnays taste overtly oaky to some and thus may not be especially food-friendly.
  • Dry red wines, such as cabernet sauvignon, merlot and pinot noir, fare best with strong-flavored foods. But keep in mind that the tannins in cabernet sauvignon can make a tomato-based dish taste “tinny,” owing to the vegetable’s high acid content.
  • Fruity wines, including the white Gewürztraminer, Muscat, viognier and riesling wines and the red Gamay and syrah, pair well with dishes like pork with sautéed apples, chicken with apricot glaze, and beef stew with dried plums.
  • Dessert wines, such as sauternes and sweet vermouth, should always be sweeter than the dessert you are serving. Otherwise, the wine will taste dull in contrast to the food itself.

Keep these tips in mind when cooking with wine, too:

  • As a general rule, pair strong wines, like syrah or zinfandel, with spicy foods. More delicate wines, like pinot noir or pinot grigio, are better with more subtle tastes.
  • To counterbalance a salty food, serve a slightly sweet wine, such as an American Gewürztraminer.
  • Cook with the same wine you are going to serve at dinner.
  • Avoid using aluminum, copper or cast-iron pots when cooking with wine, or the food will have an off taste; instead, use nonreactive cookware, such as stainless steel or enamel.
  • Pass on products labeled “cooking wine,” which are usually packed with sodium and other additives.
  • Remember that the longer a dish is cooked, the less alcohol remains.
    Sources: Newhouse News Service and Cooking Light magazine.

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About the Author

Diane Lofshult

Diane Lofshult IDEA Author/Presenter

Diane Lofshult is an award-winning freelance author who specializes in nutrition and weight management topics. She is the founder of In Other Words, an editorial consulting firm based in Solana Beach, California. Reach her at