White wine substitute


Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
Most here would say not to use the cooking wine. It's generally of low quality and has salt added.

As a rule of thumb, if you wouldn't drink the wine, don't cook with it. Which isn't particularly helpful to the non-drinkers here. Even many inexpensive white wines will be superior to white cooking wine in flavor and no added salt.

And you can certainly leave the wine out of the marinade. Use water to make up the volume and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice or a teaspoon of white wine vinegar for acidity. Or a light fruit juice instead of the water, again with a little bit of extra acidity.
Joined May 26, 2001
While phatch is right, I say:

If you have white cooking wine, use it, but decrease the salt in the marinade. Then pour the rest down the drain and get yourself some inexpensive but drinkable stuff to keep in the fridge.


Joined Jul 2, 2008
there may be other explanations to the invention of cooking wine.

for example in Pennsylvania you cannot buy alcoholic stuff in the grocery stores - no beer, no wine, no distilled stuff.

so, somebody clever put enough salt in a cheap wine and convinces the legal types it is 'food' not 'booze'?
Joined Jan 25, 2006
For a marinade, as others have said, your favorite vinegar or citrus juice works fine. I also use a little tomato product from time to time. It adds acid and a complexity to the flavor profile. The enzymes also act as a tenderizer.

For a sauce, where reduced wine would be used, vinegar can be used as an acid replacement. Remember, that although wine reduces and concentrates flavor, vinegar does not. So, if one is going to use this method, use 1/5 the amount of vinegar (or even less) in relation to the amount of wine that would have been used. The method I use is to think of the volume of liquid that would remain if I were reducing wine to au sec, and use that amount of vinegar. This will vary depending on the acidity level of the vinegar.

Hope this helps.
Joined Dec 9, 2010
I always keep at least a cheap bottle of wine for a few reasons:

1. Unexpected instances of alcoholism

2. 90% of the time where you're making a meal and just "winging it" you'll usually wish you had some.

3. Sometimes it might save the dish.  Sometimes you just want to keep things from burning without the addition of more fat or stock

I'll agree with phatch. If you wouldn't drink it, dont cook with it. And I disagree. I'd never drink a glass of dry marsala, dry sherry, dry sake or really any dry wine ever but i gladly cook with one of those at least once a week.
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Joined Aug 6, 2010
I think the main exception to the rule arises with fortified wines. I prefer tawny or late bottled vintage port, but typically cook with ruby port because a) it's cheaper and b) the soft and complex flavors of tawny port are usually lost when cooked, unless you use a lot, which brings in the issue of cost (see reason a).

With wine, this can be true to an extent. Some people don't care for particular varietals, appellations, or vintners, but those wines can still be used to good effect in cooking. The opposite can be true, in that what you like to drink may not be the best for cooking. For example, using an off-dry Gewurztraminer (which many people love) in a recipe that calls for dry white wine would probably end up devoid of that good acidic snap of, say, chablis or sauvignon blanc.

So the old adage of "if you wouldn't drink it, don't cook with it" may be a good benchmark, but some judgement should be used. Above all else, buy quality wine if you want quality food.
Joined Jan 5, 2007
I don't like or drink German wines.  Ever since the 70s and the scandals about additives such as anti-freeze gave me a decided 'scunner' against them.

I do drink a couple of Alsace wines.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
Your last statement is really the crux of the matter. The saying doesn't mean you have to drink the wine you're cooking with, or even that you should. Rather, it goes to the point that the quality should be such that you would drink it if you were drinking.

The problem is defining quality. Once upon a time, price & quality were synonymous. But that's no longer true. There is an incredible array of good wines, nowadays, in the $8-10 range; quite a few even less expensive than that.

Which leaves the nondrinker precisely where they were.

Best bet, in those circumstances, is to talk to the wine salesman. Explain that you'll just be cooking with it, that you want something that will compliment the food, but you don't want to spend a lot of money because you won't be drinking it.

I betcha you'll get several good suggestions.
Joined Oct 2, 2010
Hi all. I'm making a tarragon marinade for chicken breast. It calls for 1/4 cup of white wine. Can I use white cooking wine? If so how much?
Please and thank you. :lips:
You only need a splash! It doesn't matter all that much which wine you use in this case. I always have a bottle of dry sherry open, it keeps for quite a while. Very good alternative! Dito for dry vermouth like the french Noilly Prat and many others. And, last but not least Shaoxing ricewine available in Asian shops! Tastes a bit like a slightly sweeter sherry. Works perfectly and keeps a very long time in the fridge.

All in all I would use a good dash of vegetable oil instead of just 1/4 cup of wine, certainly for marinating chicken breast. It will stick to the meat together with the tarragon and transfer the tarragon taste much quicker into the chicken.
Joined Dec 22, 2010
Good day , more reasons for cooking wines

- the export tax for food ( cooking wine ) is about 50% of the export tax for regular wine , that can be a difference of a few dollars a bottle. This is probably the main one.

- most thirsty staff members will not drink cooking wine or salted alchoholic cooking liquers , but some will !!

- to make money off wine that could not be sold as regular vintages
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