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The Best Dry White Wine for Cooking, According to Pros

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You’ve seen them all over—recipes that call for “dry white wine.” The phrase can bring up more questions than answers: there are countless dry white wines available, with totally disparate styles, price points and personalities. How do you begin to choose the right one for your specific dish?

The perfect bottle will complement the flavors in your recipe without stealing the show. “I want wine to enhance the food, not be the primary ingredient,” says Glory Simon, chef of Sweet Glory, a private chef service and special event caterer.

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The flavor profile, body and acidity of a bottle all make their way into a dish. “The more you cook a wine, the more the wine’s qualities will be intensified,” adds Leslie Rosa, sommelier and owner of wine-focused travel company La Dolce Vigna Wine + Culture Tour Co. “If it is sweet, it will become sweeter. If it has a lot of acidity, it will become tarter.”

Lighter-style whites wines enhance the flavor of your dish without overwhelming; they’re usually a smart place to start. Here’s what else to consider when choosing the ideal white wine for cooking.

First Things First: Pick Something You Want to Drink

“Most recipes require only a cup or so, which means the rest of the bottle can be enjoyed with the meal or at least while cooking,” says Rosa. All cooks know that their finished product is only as good as the ingredients that go into it, so choose a high-quality wine. Pro tip: eschew subpar grocery store “cooking wine” and opt instead for a bottle you’ll look forward to pouring for yourself and your guests.

That said, there’s no need to break the break. In cooking, not only does a wine’s alcohol burn off, but many of its subtler nuances are lost to high heat and a chorus of melded flavors. Simon usually spends around $10 to $15 on a bottle for cooking. However, she’ll use a pricier pick if “it’s in the fridge already because someone had a dinner party and there’s a leftover bottle.” A cardinal rule of cooking with wine: Don’t waste it!

What Is the Best White Wine for Cooking?

Pinot Grigio

When in doubt, Pinot Grigio is a standby for all sorts of recipes. For cooking, “we are looking for acid and subtle wine flavor” says Kelly Mitchell, founder of wine consultancy Kelly Mitchell Wine. “Pinot Grigio and light-bodied Italian wines are a go-to for this reason. Clean and clean.” Light, dry and usually priced quite affordably, Pinot Grigio is recommended especially for scampi or fish dishes.

Wine Enthusiast suggests:

Peter Zemmer 2022 Pinot Grigio Pinot Grigio (Alto Adige)

Roasted apples, lemon peel and yeasty aromas lift from the glass of this classic mountain Pinot Grigio. Flavors of green pears and flint define the creamy palate that pops with tangy acidity on the finish. Best Buy. 92 Points  — Jeff Porter

$17 Total Wine

Sauvignon Blanc

Crisp and bright, Sauvignon Blanc can bring zingy flavor to a dish without overpowering it. Often high in acidity with plenty of minerality, it’s perfect for pan sauces or chicken piccata. Rosa notes that if you are using the wine to quickly deglaze a pan, “you can get away with a more acidic wine” like Sauvignon Blanc. It’s also great for splashing into a pot of steamed mussels.

Wine Enthusiast suggests:

Babich 2022 Black Label Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough)

Waxy lime, grapefruit, grass and crisp green bell pepper open this balanced, food friendly Sauvignon. It even feels a little floral. On the palate, a citrusy zing lends brightness to the waxy textural richness. There’s a long, limey finish. Easy to sip both on its own or with a meal. Best Buy. 92 Points  — Christina Pickard

$15 Total Wine


A white found primarily in the Marche region of Central Italy, Verdicchio has tropical notes and a bit of welcome persistence. Simon says that its “lemon flavors and salty, briny components are great with most fish and chicken dishes.” It’s also a friend to spaghetti with clams and sauteed broccolini.

Wine Enthusiast suggests:

Cantina Zaccagnini 2021 Verdicchio (Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico)

Complex and lasting aromas of white nectarine, yellow rose, crushed stone and lemon oil all whirl away in the glass, making it hard to take a sip, not knowing what other aroma awaits you. But once you take a sip, lush and broad strokes of flavor awash the palate with roasted Mandarin orange skin, candied honeydew, fresh thyme and fine acidity showing hints of sea salt on the finish. 91 Points  — J.P.

$ Varies Wine-Searcher

Unoaked Chardonnay

“When a wine is heavily oaked, it will become more bitter” when cooked, says Rosa. That’s why she suggests choosing a rich Chardonnay that’s aged without oak, perfect for cooking buttery mushrooms, which echoes the mushroom’s earthiness, or creamy risotto.

“Absolutely no oak can be present, as it can compete with cream, butter and other rich ingredients of the dish,” says Mitchell. “Stainless-steel fermentation works best.”

Wine Enthusiast suggests:

Balletto 2022 Teresa’s Unoaked Estate Chardonnay (Russian River Valley)

Smelling fresh and appley, this light-bodied wine tastes clean, crisp and mouthwatering. Granny Smith and golden apples take turns charming the palate while light accents of vanilla and coconut chime in. 91 Points  — Jim Gordon

$19 Total Wine

Grüner Veltliner

Originally from Austria, this bright white wine can have notes of lemon, herbs and white pepper. “I love the citrus and herbaceous qualities,” says Simon. She suggests using Grüner Veltliner in something like Thai curry, as its bracing acidity and peppery bite stand up to the dish’s bold flavors. It’s also wonderful in a wiener schnitzel pan sauce.

Wine Enthusiast suggests:

Jurtschitsch 2021 Stein Grüner Veltliner (Kamptal)

There is forthright spice and a bit of herbaceousness in this white, with a lithe profile. The acidity gives it focus and precision, simultaneously creating a fresh impression on the palate. Notes of spearmint and sea salt mark the mouthwatering finish. 90 Points  — Aleks Zecevic

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“If a dish is cooking longer, I would opt for a wine that isn’t overly acidic, like Vermentino,” advises Rosa. With a bit more body and an ocean-y salinity, this Italian varietal—grown in Sardinia and along the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea—is a wonderful addition to seafood and pork dishes.

Wine Enthusiast suggests:

Vinicola Cherchi 2021 Billia Vermentino (Vermentino di Sardegna)

Nutty, grassy notes are first on the nose, joined by the rubbery fresh scent of new sneakers and then pink grapefruit and lime. The citrus notes continue on the palate, now joined by white peach that feels especially lush, thanks to the a polished, waxy texture. 90 Points  — Danielle Callegari

$ Varies Wine-Searcher

Bonus: Provençal Rosé

It’s not a white, but Provençal rosé is an excellent alternative to white wine for dishes like roast chicken or roasted veggies like parsnips or winter squash.

It can also elevate simply prepared sole in an herby lemon-wine pan sauce. “The wine is in the name of the dish, so I’m going to choose something where the wine can be a star,” Rosa says, noting that it shines in plates that welcome a bit of zippy acidity. It’s ideal, too, for use in poaching apricots or marinating a juicy leg of lamb.

Wine Enthusiast suggests:

Domaine de Cala 2022 Rosé (Coteaux Varois en Provence)

This estate, near Brignoles on the coast, has produced an attractive wine with its ripe red fruits and tangy acidity. It is bright and ready to drink. Organic. Best Buy. 90 Points  — Roger Voss