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Oct 27, 2009 05:04 PM

Dry White Wine, Dry Red Wine vs. any alternatives to them??


I am new to cooking and often I see on Italian recipes call for dry red wine or dry white wine.

For a starter:

1) What are purpose of adding dry wine?
2) What are alternative to dry wines??
3) How to tell what red/white wines are dry?
4) Due to budget reason, what I can get to get small or similar result? And if dry wine is a must, but I just want to get one instead both of them, which one I should go for it?

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  1. Wine in cooking adds acidity, a certain complexity and helps break down the proteins to tenderize foods. The effect is different than what you would get from adding broth, juice or another liquid (although if you absolutely had to omit the wine you could do so - and many people do for health or religious reasons). With beef or lamb, you'll usually use dry (non-sweet) red wine for part or all of the cooking liquid. With chicken, veal or many vegetables, it's generally dry white wine. Except for certain desserts, there aren't many dishes that are improved by the use of a sweet wine so that's why the specification of "dry" wine in cooking. Red and white aren't entirely interchangeable so really you'll want to get a bottle of each to have around. If you're not a wine drinker, pick up an inexpensive dry red wine (like a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Sangiovese, for example) and a dry white wine (like a Sauvignon blanc or Pinot Grigio). Dispense the wine into ice cube trays and keep it frozen for those times when a bit of wine is required in a recipe - you'll always have it handy. If you don't know what wine to buy, just ask at a wine store and they'll steer you to something inexpensive but drinkable. You want to cook with something that you could possibly drink - so never buy anything called "cooking wine" which is a horrible concoction sometimes sold in grocery stores.

    1. You could use unsweetened cranberry or pomegranate juice instead of red wine, and beer. non-alcoholic beer, or white grape juice for white. Apple cider with lemon juice, diluted with water, might substitute for white - depends on the recipe.

      1. Most of your questions have been covered, but further to point #4, I think dry white vermouth is an excellent sub for white wine in many recipes, and the nice part is that it's inexpensive, and once opened it keeps for a bit (unlike wine-wine).

        If I could only stock my kitchen with one, I'd go for white over red, just because of the colour issue (risotto is a good example where in most cases you don't want it to be purple-y pink).

        6 Replies
        1. re: Olivia

          Thanks for all information, they all very informative to me. :))

          I think wines small good, but I don't drink them for some personal reasons. I would like to know how long a bottle of dry wine and white vermouth can be stored for and where is the ideal place to store them: room temperature space or refrigerator?

          1. re: ijeny

            Really wine won't last very long in decent condition once it's been opened. But as I suggested in my first post, you can freeze it in ice cube trays and you'll always be able to thaw just a small amount for a recipe. In the refrigerator, an opened bottle of wine should be ok (for cooking, if not for drinking) for a few days to a week. At room temperature, not so much - maybe a day or two at most.

            1. re: ijeny

              I second the suggestion of ice cube trays.

              To answer your other question: Vermouth does not need to be refrigerated and keeps indefinitely in a cabinet. When you buy it, make sure you've got the dry (not sweet) kind, usually in a green bottle.

              1. re: everybodyever

                Vermouth, both sweet and dry, is not shelf-stable and should be refrigerated, and thrown out after a few weeks or months, depending on your tolerance for sub-par vermouth.

                1. re: tommy

                  I agree with Tommy that vermouth doesn't keep forever. I learned this the hard way when making my first post-baby martini!

                  1. re: Olivia

                    it's theorized that the reason people don't think they like vermouth, is because the only vermouth they've ever had has been sitting in the back of a cabinet or bar for a year at room temperature. not ideal at all, and enough to ruin a cocktail. i suppose it could ruin a dish, as well.