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Cooking Wine vs. Regular Wine

While one would assume that you should use cooking wine for cooking, why is there still a debate about using cooking wine vs. regular wine? Let's find out here.

Good wine is a good familiar creature if it be well used. ~ William Shakespeare, Othello, II. iii. (315)

This is exactly how wine connoisseurs describe this versatile drink. Whether added as an ingredient in food or consumed alongside, wine has always been termed as an elegant drink that enhances the flavors of a meal. However, the type of wine, and how it is used is very important so that it serves this purpose. This brings us to understanding the purpose of cooking wine vs. regular wine. What is the difference between the two? Which one yields a more flavorful dish? Let's take a look.

Difference between Cooking Wine and Regular Wine

What is termed as cooking wine is made of grapes that are not used to prepare regular drinking wine. The grapes are of a lower quality. Apart from this, cooking wine consists of an additive that is not present in drinking wine, i.e. salt. Salt functions as a preservative in the cooking wine, so that it can be reused at a later stage. With regular wine, once opened and stored, the taste is likely to change and become sour. This is due to its exposure to oxygen. However, if stored in an air tight corked bottle in the refrigerator, it can be stored up to a month. The shelf life of cooking wine is definitely longer than that of regular wine because of the salt in it.

But is cooking wine actually used for cooking? The answer is, 'rarely'. Though there are a variety of cooking wines such as the popular Marsala cooking wine, the thumb rule of cooking with wine, followed by professionals and chefs is, 'do not cook with wine you would not serve'. Obviously, cooking wine cannot be drunk as it is. Further, the quality of grapes that is used in cooking wine is another reason chefs do not like using it to prepare gourmet meals. One may consider cooking wine a cheaper alternative to regular wine.

So should you use cooking wine vs. regular wine to make your signature dish? The conclusion here is, cooking wine is no good when it comes to preparing a variety of meals. If you must use wine and are worried about finishing off expensive variety in preparing a meal, you may use a less expensive variety of regular drinking wine that resembles its texture and quality. What are the different wines you can use for cooking? Let's take a look.

Cooking with Different Types of Wine

As mentioned earlier, using a less expensive (but not very cheap) variety of wine for cooking is a good idea to enhance the flavor and aroma of your food. Here are some choices for you, and some foods in which you can use these varieties.

  • Red Wine: Red wine is recommended by chefs to be used in sauces, as it increases their volume and adds a unique texture to it.
  • White Wine: White wine is considered to be of a more delicate variety, and is recommended as an addition to enhance the flavors of various types of fish and other white meats. This is recommended for use in the preparation of white sauces.
  • Rose Wine: Rose wine is suggested as an addition to varieties of desserts, as it adds just the right amount of sweetness and flavor to it, without altering the flavor of the dessert or the fruit used in it.

Knowing about the right amount of wine to use while cooking comes only with time and experience. When cooking with wine, it is always suggested as the last addition in the preparation of a meal so as to retain its flavors. The alcohol content evaporates in the process of cooking.

The next time you have to decide whether to use cooking wine or real wine, you will know which one you want to use. Avoid using cooking wine as much as you can, because it can never match up to the real flavors that regular wine has to offer. With the information provided in this piece on cooking wine vs. regular wine, you will hopefully be able to use a variety of wines to enhance the meals you are preparing.