Nope, we are not talking about cooking wine, but cooking with regular wine. Yep, there a difference.
To put it simply "the cooking wine" you don't want to drink, but the regular wine you are choosing to cook with, can offer you both taste in your dish, but also enjoyment and company during your meal or well during the cooking ;).
So what you need to know about cooking with a wine?
Well, rule of thumb is almost always go with dry version. Yes, there can be exceptions, but then it is specified what kind of wine etc. , so follow the rule!!
Though different recipes can call for different wines to enhance taste
- Classic case - Your recipe calls for white wine or dry white.
Get your hands on dry, crispy medium bodied white, that is not oaked* and not sweet**.
- Pinot Grigio (the safest bet)
- Sauvignon Blanc (Seafood/Cream sauces)
- Chardonnay (unoaked*!!! to add richness).
* Why not oaky? You could end up with some unwanted bitterness, which can ruin your dish. Also for the same reason avoid asparagus/artichoke and oaked wine combo.
**Why not sweet? Well, sweet wines has their time and place. If you don't want to caramelised notes in your dish then maybe it is better to avoid it. (Sweet beurre blanc on your fresh potatoes? I am not sure :S I would stay for dinner. Though off course tastes are different).
According to Decanter acceptable substitution are dry vermouth, dry bubbles (can be leftovers from last night, as you lose the bubbles anyway during cooking :P) or if you want non-alcoholic option then add veggie or chicken stock with dash of lemon or vinegar.
- Sherry - Yes, sherry is also type of wine as it is Marsala and Madeira, that can be used in cooking).
Good for deglazing and adding depth into your cream sauce. Also supposedly good with oysters. Acceptable substitute: Madeira - Sercial (dry version).
- Marsala - For braising.
- Port - Divine for sauces for wild meats and also macerating berries for dessert. Dessert sauces and off course next to it.
So happy cooking and experimenting!