We all know pairing the right wine with the right foods can offer a pleasant experience for the entire meal.
However, cooking with wine offers another whole experience to the meal by defining flavors and revealing those that might have been mute before. Cooking with wine has been a practice that has been around for years.
Well over a million years ago, humans began to consume seafood. While many different flavors have been uncovered thanks to seasoning, it’s the wine that can transform the flavors of seafood, offering nearly a whole new experience to the equation.
We know wine is a godsend – let’s get to the point already. What is the best white wine to use when cooking seafood? Let’s get right into it so you can get back to planning that dinner party!
What are the Best White Wines for Cooking Seafood?
While there is no singular best white wine to use for cooking seafood, there are a few different selections to choose from. Overall white wines that are drier are ideal for cooking seafood in general.
Try wines like Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, or even Muscadet! Allow your taste buds to decide which wine is best for the seafood you are cooking.
Does the Choice of White Wine Vary for Different Types of Seafood?
Yes, different white wines are indeed recommended for different dishes. However, the main type of white wine that should be used when cooking seafood is any dry white wine.
Unless you’re preparing this dish blindly without a recipe, many cooks will include the particular wine within their recipe for the dish.
Let’s explore a few examples! Shrimp Scampi can be cooked with Sauvignon Blanc or Unoaked Chardonnay. At the same time, the wines for clams lean towards wines like Pinot Grigio, Sancerre, or even a Vermentino.
For a fish in general, many prefer to use Muscadet or Pinot Gris. The possibilities are truly endless, mainly because you can use any dry white wine for cooking any kind of seafood of your choice, and it will all turn out good, leaving your guests pleased with the meal.
Should You Use Drier or Sweeter White Wines While Cooking Seafood?
Dry wines are ideal, if not mandatory, for cooking not only seafood but other foods as well as soup, vegetables, and even pork or veal.
However, if sweeter wines are used for cooking, it might be more difficult to cook down that alcohol content which might leave you with an unpleasant flavor within the food.
Or even worse – it might cancel out those key flavors you and your guests are excited about to indulge in.
Pinot Grigio or Muscadet – Which One You Should Choose for Cooking Seafood
While both of these wines are great options for cooking seafood cuisine, however as always, there is a preferred choice within the wine community.
Pinot Grigio is considered the more popular pair, offering two unique sets of notes that are known to pair best with nearly all seafood dishes. Listed below are some specifics of each wine and a bit about why they are both good selections for cooking seafood.
Pinot Grigio is a dry white wine with high acidic content. The wine carries notes of white peach, lemon zest, melon, almond, and other mineral notes. It’s the fruity and mineral notes that make this dry wine perfect for cooking seafood.
Muscadet is considered to be a bone-dry white wine that carries notes of lime, lemon, green apple, pear, and, interestingly enough, sea shell! Its high acidic content and fruity notes are also said to pair great with plates of seafood dishes that include mussels.
Is It Better to Choose Oaked or Unoaked Chardonnay for Cooking Seafood?
First of all, what is the difference between an oaked and an unoaked wine? An oaked wine is a wine that has been aged in an oak barrel. It gives the wine unique notes, the most commonly occurring note being vanilla.
Whereas an unoaked wine has not been aged in oak, resulting in those added notes being absent or completely transparent from the wine.
Those defined warm notes (vanilla, caramel) of a Chardonnay that has been aged in oak are highly likely to not compliment seafood. Therefore, sticking to a Chardonnay that has not been aged in oak if you choose to use the wine for cooking seafood is better.
Final thoughts on the Best White Wine to use for Cooking Seafood
The best white wines to use for cooking seafood are mainly dry white wines. Some examples of these include but are not limited to Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and an unoaked Chardonnay.
Of course, you could try different dry white wines with different kinds of seafood and declare that a shrimp scampi must be paired with a Sauvignon Blanc at all costs! However, the truth is that any dry white wine can be used to cook seafood easily.
There are two things to remember to stay away from when choosing a white wine to cook your seafood with. One, avoid sweeter wines! Two, avoid a Chardonnay that has been aged in oak; or any white that has been aged in oak for that matter.