Difference Between Drinking Wine and Cooking Wine

Quality is the major difference between wines sold as cooking wines vs. regular drinking wines. Typical wine is finer, more flavorful, and will have a stronger taste in your dishes. Cooking wine is a go-to wine that will add the flavor you need, but will not be enjoyable to drink.

There are several types of cooking wines including Marsala, Sherry, Sauternes and Rice Wine. This guide is designed to quickly identify the types of cooking wines and in what dishes they’re used.

There are 6 main styles of cooking wine.

  1. Dry Red & White Wines
  2. Dry Nutty/Oxidized Wines
  3. Sweet Nutty/Oxidized Wines
  4. Sweet Fortified Red Wines Like Port
  5. Sweet White Wines
  6. Rice Wine

Dry Red & White Wines

Dry white and red wines fall into the category of regular-drinking wines. The best wine to use in your dish will often be one that will pair well with your meal. They are perfect for use with beef stews, cream soups, mussels, clams, and wine-based sauces.

Dry Nutty/Oxidized Wines

Perfect for mushroom gravies on chicken and pork chop, rich fish like halibut and shrimp.

Sweet Nutty/Oxidized Wines

Perfect for syrups on desserts with nuts, caramel, and vanilla ice cream.

Sweet Fortified Red Wines (Port)

Perfect for chocolate sauces, chocolate cakes, and savory Port sauces for steaks with blue cheese. It’s awesome as a sauce on top of brownies, cakes, and even on steak too.

Sweet White Wines (Sauternes)

Sweet white wines can be used both for desserts and delicately flavored sweet and savory fish dishes. This style of wine is typically sensitive to light and air, so it’s a good idea to plan to use or drink the entire bottle once you open it. They are perfect for poaching pears, and sweet sauces for fruit.

Rice Wine

There are 2 types of rice wines available: Chinese and Japanese rice wine. They are perfect for Marinades, Glazes, and Asian BBQ Sauce.