What Are the Most Common Types of Cooking Wine Used in Different Cuisines?

Jul 13, 2023

Cooking wine is a valuable ingredient that brings depth and complexity to various cuisines around the world. Different cultures have their own preferred types of cooking wine, each with its own unique flavor profile and culinary applications. In this article, we will explore the most common types of cooking wine used in different cuisines, highlighting their characteristics and the dishes they are commonly associated with.

1. Chinese Cooking Wine (Shaoxing Wine)

Chinese cuisine often incorporates Shaoxing wine, a traditional rice wine with a rich and aromatic flavor. Shaoxing wine adds depth and complexity to stir-fries, braised dishes, and marinades. It is a key ingredient in popular Chinese dishes like drunken chicken, where the wine contributes both flavor and tenderizing properties.

2. Japanese Cooking Wine (Mirin)

Mirin is a sweet rice wine commonly used in Japanese cuisine. It has a mild, slightly sweet taste and a low alcohol content. Mirin adds a delicate sweetness and a glossy finish to teriyaki sauce, glazes, and marinades. It also helps to balance flavors and reduce the fishy smell in seafood dishes.

3. French Cooking Wine (White Wine)

White wine, particularly dry varieties like Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, is widely used in French cuisine. It adds a subtle acidity and fruity notes to sauces, stews, and braised dishes. White wine is an essential component in classic French dishes such as Coq au Vin and Bouillabaisse.

4. Italian Cooking Wine (Marsala Wine)

Marsala wine, a fortified wine from Sicily, is a staple in Italian cooking. It has a deep amber color and a sweet, rich flavor. Marsala wine is often used in savory dishes like Chicken Marsala, where it adds depth and a distinct caramelized flavor. It is also an essential ingredient in desserts like Tiramisu.

5. Spanish Cooking Wine (Sherry)

Sherry, a fortified wine from Spain, is frequently used in Spanish cuisine. It has a complex, nutty flavor and comes in various styles, from dry to sweet. Sherry is a key component in dishes like Spanish paella, where it adds depth and enhances the overall flavor profile. It is also used in sauces, marinades, and traditional tapas.

6. Mediterranean Cooking Wine (Red Wine)

Red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, is widely used in Mediterranean cuisine. It lends rich flavors and a robust depth to dishes like slow-cooked stews, ragù sauces, and hearty meat recipes. Red wine contributes complexity and helps to tenderize tough cuts of meat.

7. Korean Cooking Wine (Miryang Rice Wine)

Miryang rice wine is a popular cooking wine in Korean cuisine. It is made from fermented rice and has a slightly sweet and tangy taste. Miryang rice wine is used in marinades, braises, and traditional dishes like Galbijjim (braised beef short ribs) and Japchae (stir-fried glass noodles).


The world of cooking wine is diverse, with each cuisine having its own preferred types of wine to enhance their traditional dishes. From Chinese Shaoxing wine to Japanese mirin, French white wine to Italian Marsala wine, the possibilities are endless. Understanding the characteristics of these cooking wines allows you to select the most appropriate one for your recipes, elevating the flavors and bringing an authentic touch to your culinary creations.