Which Wines and Oils Do I Use When Cooking? — Fix My Dish

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red and white wine

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Two glasses of wine

Photo by: Torsten Schon

Torsten Schon

Twice a month we’re giving readers a chance to ask Food Network Kitchens’ advice about an issue they’re having with a dish. They can’t reformulate a recipe for you, but they’re happy to help improve it.

Question: I'm just not wine-smart — I don't know a dry wine from a non-dry one. It sure would be helpful if the chefs would say what kind of wine they're using in a recipe, not brand specific, but if it's a Chardonnay or a Merlot. And when they speak of using a finishing oil on their food, what does that mean? - Karen Shelton

Answer: Don't stress about what kind of wine to cook with. It's pretty straightforward: If it tastes good in the glass, it'll taste good in the dish. As a basic rule of thumb, think white wines for delicate flavors like shellfish or most vegetables. Use red wines for robust flavors in red sauces and braised meats.

As for finishing oils, chefs often suggest finishing soups and pastas with a glug of good-tasting olive oil (or walnut oil, pumpkin-seed oil or sesame oil) — it adds robustness and flavor to the finished dish. For a different effect, try a squeeze of lemon juice or a splash of vinegar to brighten up a long-cooked stew.

Everything Wine: Get wine advice from the experts, as well as recipes to pair with each varietal.

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