The Ultimate Guide to Dry White Wine: Cooking & Drinking Dry White Wines

The Ultimate Guide to Dry White Wine: Cooking & Drinking Dry White Wines

Staff Writer |

Picture a perfectly appointed dinner table for two. If your table didn’t include two glasses of wine, that’s an incomplete meal! A good dry white wine may not be one of the best wines for beginners, but for many of us, it’s the perfect addition to most meals.

And wine isn’t just an accompaniment to a meal; it can also be an ingredient. Top chefs who have mastered the art of a wine-based sauce will vouch for the fact that using wine in cooking is a fine art. Many of them will tell you that dry white wine is one of the most versatile types of wine to use in cooking. 

What Is a Dry White Wine?

What Is a Dry White Wine?

A “dry wine” is one where the fermentation process has removed all or most of the residual sugar from the grapes. Dry white wine is made by allowing the yeast to consume nearly all of the naturally occurring sugars found in the grapes. Therefore, dry white wine is not sweet.  

Dry White Wines for Cooking and Drinking

If you’re considering using dry white wine for cooking, you must be familiar with its taste. The taste of a wine is the first indicator of its quality. When cooking with wine, always remember the golden rule: “If you wouldn’t drink it, you shouldn’t cook with it.”

Too many people think that it’s fine to use cheaper or low-quality wines for cooking; but a bad wine usually leads to a bad taste, which in turn means a bad meal. Instead, you should use wines that you would enjoy drinking for cooking. While you don’t have to uncork your most expensive vintages for pasta, you must maintain the same general standards for your cooking wines and drinking wines.

At Usual Wines, we're Californian winemakers that respect the classic traditions of making wine. Our dry white wines are perfect for cooking and drinking. They contain no artificial additives, synthetic coloring, or added sugar. Their clear, sharp, natural flavor profiles makes Usual Wines’ dry whites the ideal wines to pair with food. 

Characteristics of Dry White Wines

Sommeliers and chefs rely on having a wide selection of dry white wines to keep their customers happy. After all, there are very few drinks that can compare to a generous pour of freshly uncorked dry white wine. 

So, what should you look for when selecting the perfect bottle of white wine?

1. Minimal Sugar Content

Dry white wines have little to no residual sugar. It’s made from white grapes and is fermented until all the sugar has been converted into alcohol. Winemakers have to control the sugar levels by using specific yeast strains (some consume more sugar than others) and controlling the ambient temperature during the fermentation process. Depending on the level of residual sugar, dry wines are classified as very dry, medium dry, and off-dry.

2. Crisp and Refreshing Flavor Profile

Less sugar means that dry white wines do not have a very sweet flavor profile. This allows its other notes to shine. Another common feature of dry white wines is the higher alcohol content. This is due to the longer fermentation process used to break down all the sugars. The alcohol level and mixture of tannins in dry white wines give them a nice crisp flavor profile.

3. Versatile for Drinking and Cooking

Once you’ve dipped your toes into the world of dry white wine, you’ll soon find it’s good for more than just drinking. Because of the reduced sweetness, dry white wine perfectly complements dishes with lighter flavors. Pork, chicken, seafood, and vegetables are just some ingredients that pair very well with dry white wine. A selection of good-quality dry white wines opens up a world of possibilities in your kitchen and your bar. 

Dry White Wine for Cooking

Dry White Wine for Cooking
The sheer variety of dry white wines gives you great flexibility in terms of culinary options.

Role of Dry White Wine in Cooking

Whether you’re using a white or a red, wine can be incorporated into your recipes in several ways. It can be added to oil for sautéeing, used in marinades, to deglaze pans, and for creating the base for a savory sauce. Each recipe calls for wine to be used in a different way.

Benefits of Using Dry White Wine in Recipes

The reason for using dry white wine in cooking goes beyond flavor. There are also some health benefits linked to using wine in recipes. White wine is known to have antioxidants, which help improve your brain function while protecting against heart and lung diseases. The natural acidity of wine also tenderizes meats during marinating and cooking. Plus, the alcohol content helps cut through the fat, making meat sauces healthier.

Recommended Dry White Wines for Cooking

Here are some of the most popular dry white wines used in kitchens:

1. Sauvignon Blanc

This is one of the most popular types of white wines that is available worldwide.

Strengths: It has citric, acidic flavors as well as notes of grasses and herbs.

Weaknesses: The sharp, acidic taste can cut through some creamy sauces and overpower them.

2. Pinot Grigio

Pinot Grigio is another popular type of white wine. It is sometimes also called Pinot Gris. You can sample this light wine through these mini Pinot Gris bottles.

Strengths: It’s defined by light, fruity flavors, and high acidity.

Weaknesses: It can be difficult to highlight the light notes in heavy dishes with many strong flavors.

3. Other Dry White Wines

Along with the three mentioned above, other dry white wines like Chardonnay, Muscadet, and Chenin Blanc can also be used. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the flavor profile of a wine before using it in your cooking. 

Dry White Wines for Drinking

Dry White Wines for Drinking
With all the excitement in culinary experimentation, let’s not forget the reason we all fell in love with wine in the first place: It’s a drink like no other! Here’s how to pair your dry white wines with food.

Sauvignon Blanc

Gourmands and Sauvignon Blanc are a match made in heaven. The strong acidic and herbal notes of this wine make it a great pairing with dishes that are lightly flavored with herbs. It goes well with chicken, seafood, and salads.


One of the most popular and diverse white wines in the world is Chardonnay. The flavor profile of this wine depends on whether it is aged in stainless steel or traditional oak barrels. The former preserves the fruity, citrusy, and apple-heavy notes of the original grapes, whereas oak barrels impart a fuller body and notes of vanilla and butterscotch. Unoaked Chardonnay goes well with lighter foods like salad and seafood, while oaked Chardonnay pairs well with rich, creamier dishes.

Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris

There are very few wines like Pinot Grigio when you’re on the hunt for a zesty, fruity accompaniment to a meal. This dry white wine has a flavor profile dominated by lime, lemon, and green apple, and is highly acidic. It should be used with similar light and fresh flavors. Think white meats like chicken or seafood, or a summer garden pasta.

Usual Wines Pinot Gris

If you’re going for a Pinot Gris, why not choose an award-winning bottle? Usual Wines’ Pinot Gris won the Gold Medal at North of the Gate for its delightful and crisp flavor profile of honeysuckle, apricot, and passionfruit. It’s the perfect dry white wine to uncork for the quintessential pairing of wine and cheese. The generous single-serving size of the bottle guarantees freshness at your dinner table. 

Other Dry White Wine Options

Whether you’re using a more widely available wine like the ones mentioned above, or rarer varieties like Muscadet or Chenin Blanc, remember that dry white wines usually go best with subtle flavors. Thus, dry white wines are best paired with vegetarian and white meat dishes.  

How To Select Dry White Wines

There are three main steps when picking a dry white wine:

1. Consider the Purpose

Your choice depends on whether you’re planning to drink the wine or cook with it. However, the rule of thumb is to never cook with wine that you wouldn’t let your guests drink.

2. Analyze Flavor Profiles

Every batch of wine has its own unique notes. That’s why it’s important to learn what makes up a dry white wine’s flavor profile.

3. Assess Quality

Inspect the label and learn what you can about the winemaker’s processes. See if the quality of the wine is worth the price on the label.

With a little effort and study, you can try some of the best wine for beginners and identify types that you enjoy. A great place to start is the Mixed Pack of single serving wine that includes red, rosé, and brut wine. 

Dry White Wines: A World of Versatility

With their crisp, refreshing taste, it’s no wonder that dry white wines command a loyal following of wine enthusiasts. Their usefulness as a beverage and cooking ingredient makes them a tasty addition to home kitchens and the finest restaurants. 

Usual Wines adopts a sustainable approach to excellent wine, bringing the freshest batches of dry white wine to your doorstep. Explore a flavorful and indulgent world of possibilities by ordering a crate today.