7 Fresh, Summer-Ready Ways to Cook With Wine

Think: raspberry riesling sherbet, rosé chicken piccata, and more.

June 24, 2021

We teamed up with A to Z Wineworks—a certified B-Corp known for their food-friendly wines made in Oregon—to highlight all the bright, fresh ways we're cooking with wine this summer. Our go-to bottles to keep stocked in the kitchen and, of course, sip alongside? A to Z's floral, fruit-forward 2020 Rosé and crisp, citrusy 2020 Riesling.

When it comes to cooking with wine, there's one simple rule I try follow, which I'm sure you've heard before: If you wouldn't drink the wine on its own, don't cook with it. I'll admit to breaking this rule once or twice (OK, many times), but I can always tell the difference in the finished dish—be it a slow-simmered Bolognese or a quick pan sauce for spooning over chicken—when I use a bottle that's just ho-hum.

Now that summer is officially here, along with all the warm-weather festivities and seasonal fare that come with it, I'll be incorporating wine into many of my recipes. While lighter red and white wines—pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, even an unoaked chardonnay—are the ones I typically reach for while cooking, when the temperatures rise, I also like to start using rosé (an enduring summer staple) and riesling (slightly dry with a balanced acidity, and not too sweet) in both sweet and savory dishes.

Two summer-ready wines I'm keeping stocked this season: the 2020 Rosé and Riesling from A to Z Wineworks. Produced in Oregon, these wines are not only ripe for sipping in the sunshine by themselves or mixing into a cocktail, but also for cooking and baking of all kinds. And at under $20 a bottle, you're getting great quality at a budget-friendly price. Even better, A to Z Wineworks is a certified B-Corp company, meaning they put transparency and ethics at the forefront of their operations.

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But what to make with these wines? Here are some of the ways I'll be cooking with rosé, riesling, and more in the coming weeks and months. The options are seemingly endless, and the suggestions below are just that—riffs and experimentation are very much welcome.

7 Summery Ways to Cook With Wine

1. Use it to Poach Fresh Summer Fruits

Poaching with wine is a simple yet showstopping way to make all the glorious, juicy-sweet fruits of the season stand out. I typically like to use rosé for poaching red berries (A to Z's Rosé has aromas of strawberry, rose hip tea, and zesty citrus that make for a natural pairing), and white wine for stone fruits, like in these wine-poached apricots. Serve them over vanilla ice cream, pound cake, or simply with whipped cream and a flourish of chopped fresh basil or mint—a foolproof dessert for company (or just yourself).

2. Stir it into Cake Batter

Adding a splash of wine to your cake batter lends an extra layer of complexity and can bring any flavors in the recipe even further to the forefront. Take for example, this wine-poached plum almond cake—the hints of apricot and savory herb notes in A to Z's Riesling would complement the sweet-tart flavors of the plum and nutty almonds nicely. In this red (wine) velvet cake from Stella Parks, a dry red wine rounds out the richness of the chocolate.

3. Whisk It Into Your Next Vinaigrette

Salads may not always be the star of my table, but there's no denying that every summer spread could use a bit of crunchy green goodness. To level up your dressings, bring a splash of wine into the mix—depending on the flavors you're going for, a red, white or rosé could work. This Genius-approved red wine vinaigrette is an excellent, fancy-feeling way to use up any extra pinot noir in the bottle, but feel free to play around here; a white wine vinegar-based dressing would be great with a riesling or even something on the bubbly side.

4. Reduce It for Savory Summer Sauces & Broths

Adding wine to sauces is a no-brainer—a dash of wine plus a bit of heat makes things complex and flavorful, with that extra special something. In the summer, there are so many wine-based sauces and broths to try that won't feel too heavy or rich—like these drunken clams with sausage in a white wine-infused broth (I bet rosé would be good here, too), a smoky-sweet red wine barbecue sauce, and this rosé-inspired riff on classic chicken piccata.

5. Add a Splash to Your Meat Marinades

'Tis the season for grilling meats, which means all manner of marinades are on deck. A wine-based marinade will not only infuse its flavor into the meat, but it'll also help tenderize it, keeping it moist as it cooks. A marinade blend of riesling, citrus juice and zest (lemon, lime, orange, you name it), garlic, olive oil, salt, and mint sounds positively dreamy with chicken; red wine, garlic, olive oil, and rosemary would be a foolproof combo for steak.

But you can also use wine to marinate ingredients that aren't meat, too: Food writer and recipe developer Grant Melton suggests marinating peach slices in rosé before serving with burrata, arugula, and mint.

6. Mix it Into Sherbet, Granita or Sorbet

Wine makes a fantastic addition to frozen desserts, particularly sherbet, granita, or sorbet—though don't count ice cream out, either. You have two options here: Pair up whichever wine you're using with an ingredient it plays well with, like in this raspberry riesling sorbet (just look at that gorgeous pink hue); or make the wine the star of the show, as is the case with this aprés party granita from Alice Medrich, which calls for whatever wine you've got on hand.

7. Don't Forget the Sips!

While not technically cooking, no list of my favorite ways to enjoy wine during the summer would be complete without mentioning some refreshing sips. A good wine is, of course, wonderful all on its own, but sometimes I'm just in the mood for a cocktail. Rosé is tried and true here, as are red and white wines—for making spritzers, stirring into sangría, and most importantly, blending into slushies (hello, frosé).

What's your favorite way to cook with wine during the summertime? Tell us in the comments below!

In partnership with A to Z Wineworks we're highlighting delicious ways to use their 2020 Rosé and Riesling in the kitchen—and when the bottle's empty, in creative DIY projects for the whole house. These beautiful, versatile wines highlight the essence of Oregon by widely sourcing grapes from diverse vineyards across the state. The best part: A to Z Wineworks is a certified B-Corp, which means they maintain the highest standards of economic, environmental, and social responsibility as a company.

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Erin Alexander

Written by: Erin Alexander

Erin Alexander is the Managing Editor of Food52.