Wine is one of those ingredients that can intimidate people and steer them away from a recipe. Most recipes out there call for dry white or red wine. The reason for this is because dry wines are fermented until all of the natural sugars that are present in the grape are gone. The goal of using wine in recipes is to add flavor to your dish. Using a sweet wine in a recipe that calls for a dry wine could alter the taste of the final product. However, in my opinion, unless you are using a dessert wine or a specialty wine (like an ice wine or a raspberry wine) it won’t matter that much. Your dish isn’t going to be a total flop if a recipe calls for the extraest extra dry white wine on Earth and you use a medium-dry wine like a Pinot Grigio. Don’t tell the sommeliers of the world that I said that!
There are many websites out there that will boast quality over price when it comes to cooking with wine. Follow this in terms of taste only. There are some really great tasting wines available for under $10 dollars. See: Trader Joe’s. Good wine does not necessarily mean expensive wine. The most important thing to remember when cooking with wine is to use a wine that you like. Don’t worry about wine points and hints of cherry with finishes of caramel. Use whatever you normally drink while taking a bubble bath after a long day at the office. If you genuinely like the taste of the bottle of Yellowtail you can pick up at the gas station on your way home from work, use it! If you are entertaining any snobby wine friends you can probably trick them by leaving an empty bottle of expensive wine next to the stove so they think you used that in your dish. 🙂
Kidding aside, don’t overthink it. A good rule of thumb is to use Chardonnay when a recipe calls for a white wine and a Pinot Noir when a recipe calls for a red wine, but if you love Merlot or Sauvignon Blanc pour away!
Do you have a favorite brand of wine for cooking?