If you enjoy cooking, you have probably wandered across recipes that require some sort of wine to be included in the dish. These dishes add wine to emphasize the flavor, and it is key to remember that once the wine has been cooked, the wine is no longer alcoholic.
Many chefs will add red wine into a bolognese sauce to add to the flavor, similarly you might add a white wine to a chicken or seafood dish. You can get white wine sauces at restaurants, which always taste delicious as well.
When it comes to cooking with wine there are two that sound similar, but in fact are not, white cooking wine, and white wine vinegar.
What is the difference between these two culinary wines? And are their differences really so important?
Let’s find out, shall we? Today we have all you need to know for your white wine cooking experience, including the differences between white cooking wine and white wine vinegar, substitutes for white wine vinegar, uses for white wine vinegar, and what the real difference is between the white wine you drink and the white wine you use to cook.
What is white wine vinegar?
So, what exactly is white wine vinegar. This culinary wine is simply a white wine that has been fermented and oxidized into an acid that has a slightly fruity flavor to it.
The distilling process that is used often takes place inside stainless steel vats that are called acetators, they expose the ethanol in wine to oxygen, this results in acetic acid which is then diluted with water to produce a palatable acidity between 5 and 7 percent.
White wine vinegars can be created from a blend of wines, which can be referred to as a wine stock.
What is white cooking wine?
White wine for cooking on the other hand is a pantry staple for a majority of cooks, and it can be used with great versatility. You could use it to deglaze brown bits for a pan sauce for a fish, chicken, pork, or mushroom dish.
You can use it in risotto for some acidity, or add it into a pot of shellfish before you steam it.
A cooking wine is usually not sweet, however for cooking you need a wine that has a high acidity, which will be known as a ‘crisp’ wine. Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, and Semillon, are especially good wines for cooking.
A white cooking wine is typically defined by quality more than anything else, although, realistically, you could use any white wine, as it does not really matter all that much, however, you do not want to cook with a wine that is especially bad, as the cooking will not take away the flavor.
Substituting white wine vinegar.
In the case that you do not have any white wine vinegar, and you cannot access any before you cook, it has a few options that you can use to substitute it.
This substance has an approachable tang to it, it is neither too sour nor too sweet. How you substitute it will depend on the dish that you are making.
- You could use a bit of lemon juice as a substitute. An equal amount of lemon juice will bring about that tanginess, citric acid does pack far less of a punch than acetic acid does, so it will not be as prominent in more rich and savory dishes.
- You could use rice vinegar, or rice wine vinegar. This is a good and mild alternative to use.
- You could use red wine or sherry vinegar, which will achieve about the correct level of acidity here, it will have a slightly more robust flavor though, and of course you need to take into account the colors of the dish as well, a red wine may look unappealing in some dishes.
You could use a white cooking wine, however the acidity will be different as a normal white wine will not carry the same acidity as a white wine vinegar will. It is worth experimenting with these various options to see what works best for you.
Using white wine vinegar
If you have some white wine vinegar and are unsure on how you can use it, then we have a few ideas for you to try out.
- You can use it to brine. White wine vinegar has a subtle sweetness and deep acidity is a great choice when you are whipping up a brine for pickling fruits or vegetables. You can use it for red onion, or watermelon rind. You can blend it together with distilled white vinegar to craft the ideal flavor.
- Furthermore, you could also use it to make Hollandaise and Bearnaise. It is perfect for this use and a great chance to experiment with your white wine vinegar.
- Why not make up a vinaigrette. Whisk a tablespoon of your white wine vinegar with 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Season it with some salt and black pepper. You can always add some Dijon mustard, and finely chop a small shallot and add it in. It can make for a beautiful dressing. It is another opportunity to experiment in the kitchen.
How is white wine different from white cooking wine?
Before you decide to take a sip of your cooking wine, you need to understand the difference between the wine you drink and cooking wine.
The difference is in the quality of the drink. Regular wine is finer, and has much more flavor. If you decide to add it to a dish, the taste will be much stronger.
Cooking wine is a go-to-wine that will add in the flavors that you seek, however it will not be nice to drink, as the flavors are not so potent.
Cooking wine gives your dish the flavor and the body without you having to spend normal wine prices. So you use this wine for your dishes and save the good stuff to drink while you are eating the dish you cooked up.