Since the beginning of recorded history, wine has been considered one of the essential ingredients in cooking. The ancient Greeks celebrated cooking wine and there are numerous references to its use in their meal preparation. When the Romans took up cooking with wine, they spread the practice throughout Europe and developed special varietals such as Marsala.
Using wine in cooking is so natural, it probably would have occurred naturally anywhere grapes could be grown and turned into wine. The secret to using cooking wine is simply making your favorite dishes taste to your liking. Wine can accent, enhance and intensify the flavors and aromas of food.
While fine chefs have adopted and refined the use of dry cooking wines, certain misconceptions have spread throughout the cooking world. For example, it is a mistake to believe that elegant dishes require expensive vintage wines for flavor. This is simply not true. Nor is it true that wine designed specially for cooking is inferior for drinking. This latter myth probably grew out of the fact that restaurants frequently salted wines used in cooking to discourage the kitchen staff from drinking them.
Adding salt to white, sherry, red and Marsala wines has actually proven beneficial. Once opened, these cooking wines do not need to be refrigerated or consumed immediately as is the case with unsalted wine.