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What to Substitute for Cooking Wine

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Q. I'm not quite sure what to use as a substitute for cooking wine but I have seen a program that said what the substitute was, and that it is pretty much the same, except that cooking wine just has more salt (I think) or sugar. It said there is no need to spend so much time, effort, and money obtaining a cooking wine. What can I use in place of white cooking wine? 

A. In the days when so many more of us had cooks (and nannies and maids) to help with the work, wines seemed to disappear from the kitchen at an alarming rate. Salt was added to bottles of wine to discourage the cook from taking an occasional or frequent sip, and cooking wines were born.

Though the salt may no longer serve its original purpose, cooking wines are considered to be inferior wines. Considering the almost universal disdain the food world has for cooking wine, it is surprising that it shows up as an ingredient in recipes as often as it does.

The rule of thumb for cooking with wine is to use a good wine, something you would be happy drinking, and — if you're really fancy and organized — perhaps to cook your dish with the same wine that you will be serving at the table.

For your recipe, choose any good white wine. That may save you the time and effort of finding a cooking wine, but it is not likely to save you any money. Cooking wines tend to be cheap, and a wine that you would be happy drinking is quite likely to be more expensive.

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