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Cooking Wine vs. Regular Wine: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 19, 2023
Cooking wine is formulated for culinary use with added salt and seasonings; regular wine is primarily for drinking and lacks these additives.

Key Differences

Cooking wine is a type of wine specifically crafted for use in the kitchen. Regular wine, conversely, is produced primarily for drinking and enjoying either alone or with meals.
While both cooking wine and regular wine can be used in dishes to enhance flavor, cooking wine often contains additives like salt, preservatives, and sometimes herbs, which regular wine does not.
In terms of taste, cooking wine is generally not as refined or complex as regular wine. Many chefs and culinary experts actually recommend using regular wine for cooking because of its superior flavor profile.
From a consumption perspective, while cooking wine can technically be consumed straight, its taste, due to the added ingredients, makes it less palatable than regular wine, which is crafted for direct consumption.
Price-wise, cooking wine is typically less expensive than regular wine. This is because cooking wine isn't produced with the same quality grapes or aging processes as regular wine.

Comparison Chart

Primary Purpose

Culinary use in cooking
Drinking and enjoying


Contains salt, preservatives, sometimes herbs
Generally none

Taste Quality

Not as refined or complex
More refined with diverse profiles


Can be consumed but not palatable
Crafted for direct consumption


Typically less expensive
Price varies based on quality, age, etc.

Cooking Wine and Regular Wine Definitions

Cooking Wine

Contains added salt and sometimes herbs.
This dish tastes salty because of the cooking wine.

Regular Wine

Lacks the additives commonly found in cooking wines.
Regular wine is preferable in this dish to avoid extra salt.

Cooking Wine

Usually cheaper than regular wines.
I buy cooking wine in bulk because it's cost-effective.

Regular Wine

Often chosen based on personal preference or food pairing.
For steak, a bold regular wine like Cabernet Sauvignon is ideal.

Cooking Wine

Wine specifically formulated for culinary dishes.
Add some cooking wine to enhance the sauce's depth.

Regular Wine

Can also be used in cooking to impart flavor.
I use regular wine in my risotto for a rich taste.

Cooking Wine

Often has preservatives not found in regular wine.
Ensure the cooking wine's preservatives don't interfere with your recipe.

Regular Wine

A fermented beverage made from grapes, meant for drinking.
I enjoy a glass of regular wine with dinner.

Cooking Wine

Not typically consumed as a beverage due to its flavor.
I accidentally sipped cooking wine and didn't enjoy it.

Regular Wine

Can vary in taste, age, and region.
This regular wine from France has a unique bouquet.


Can I drink regular wine just like I drink other beverages?

Yes, regular wine is produced mainly for drinking and enjoyment.

What is the main use of cooking wine?

Cooking wine is primarily used for culinary purposes in dishes.

Do regular wines contain the same additives as cooking wines?

No, regular wine typically doesn't have the additives found in cooking wines.

Is regular wine used in desserts?

Yes, regular wine can be used in desserts like poached pears or wine-infused cakes.

Can I use regular wine in my cooking?

Absolutely, many chefs recommend using regular wine over cooking wine for a better flavor profile.

Can I replace regular wine with cooking wine in a recipe?

While possible, it might alter the taste due to the salt and additives in cooking wine.

How should I store opened cooking wine?

Cooking wine should be sealed and stored in a cool place, similar to regular wine.

Do I need to refrigerate cooking wine after opening?

It's recommended to refrigerate cooking wine after opening to extend its shelf life.

Is cooking wine more expensive than regular wine?

Typically, cooking wine is less expensive than regular wine.

How long can I keep an opened bottle of regular wine?

Regular wine should ideally be consumed within 3-5 days after opening to maintain its best flavor.

Is it harmful to consume cooking wine directly?

While not harmful, cooking wine is not crafted for direct consumption and might not be palatable.

Does cooking wine have any additives?

Yes, cooking wine often contains additives like salt, preservatives, and sometimes herbs.

Are there different varieties of cooking wine?

Yes, cooking wine can come in varieties like red, white, and sherry.

Do all regular wines age well?

No, not all regular wines are meant for aging; some are best enjoyed young.

Should I reduce cooking wine when adding to dishes?

Often, recipes call for reducing cooking wine to intensify flavor and evaporate alcohol.

Why does cooking wine taste different from regular wine?

Cooking wine contains additives and is not as refined in taste as regular wine.

How do I choose a good regular wine for cooking?

Choose a regular wine that you'd enjoy drinking, as its flavor will come through in the dish.

Can cooking wine be used for marinating?

Yes, cooking wine can be used for marinating, but be mindful of its salt content.

How do sulfites in regular wine affect cooking?

Sulfites in regular wine typically evaporate with cooking, but people sensitive to them should still be cautious.

Is the alcohol content in regular wine higher than in cooking wine?

The alcohol content varies, but cooking wine often has a comparable or slightly lower alcohol content than regular wine.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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