If you’re new to cooking with wine, it may seem a little daunting. Using wine to marinate and prepare foods and make delicious sauces for dishes (including desserts) is easier than you might think. Even if you don’t like to drink wine, learning to cook with it will elevate your meals and add some pizazz to everyday dinners.

20 Must-Try Recipes Featuring a Little Bit of Wine

Cooking with Wine Recipes

If you’re getting bored with ho-hum chicken breasts and fish fillets, it’s time to try some wine-based recipes. And surprisingly, cooking with wine can be affordable since most recipes require only small amounts of drinkable (but not expensive) wine. For some recipe ideas that are sure to please, read on.

White Wine Recipes to Try

White wine is a staple in most chefs’ kitchens because of its versatility. White wine frequently finds itself paired with fish and chicken, but many beef and pork recipes use white wine, as well. For cooking, look for crisp, dry white wines such as Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc which tend to work better than oaky wines such as Chardonnay.

Creamy Saffron Risotto

Recipe for Risotto alla Milanese, AKA Saffron Risotto

You’ll think you’re in Italy’s Lake Como region with this savory risotto dish that features shallots, white wine and saffron. In Italy, it’s called Risotto alla Milanese. You’ll likely have the ingredients on hand, so this is a dish you can whip up on a weeknight with minimal fuss.

More on Italian Cooking: The Essential Italian Ingredients

Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff Recipe

With temperatures dropping, a hearty meal like this Beef Stroganoff is sure to warm bellies. Best of all, this dish featuring sautéed beef, egg noodles and mushrooms in a sour cream-wine sauce is quick and straightforward.

Slow-Cooked Pork in Wine and Thyme

French White Wine Pork

Slow cookers are a cook’s best friend when it comes to creating a delicious meal with minimal effort. This mouth-watering French stew recipe features root vegetables, white wine and succulent pork tenderloin.

Grilled Chicken & Peach Saltimbocca Kabobs

Chicken Saltimbocca Kabobs Recipe

If you like traditional Italian Saltimbocca, this fun variation served on skewers is sure to please. You’ll need to plan ahead a bit since the chicken picks up flavors while marinating for one to eight hours. Peaches add a lovely sweetness that balances the prosciutto’s saltiness.

Bacon-Wrapped Trout Fillet

Bacon Wrapped Trout Recipe

Anything wrapped in bacon is guaranteed to excite the senses! This easy trout dish uses only a few ingredients such as butter, white wine and shallots to create a classic beurre blanc sauce.

Sweet Pepper and Fennel Chicken with White Wine Sauce

Fennel Chicken with White Wine Sauce

Fennel’s unique anise-licorice flavor is what makes this dish so spectacular. Combined with red bell pepper and hot smoked paprika, this chicken dish sounds like something only a gourmet chef could prepare. It’s surprisingly easy, so not only can you make it, but you can also enjoy it on a weeknight.

Red Wine Recipes to Try

Chicken and fish recipes rely mostly on white wine, but you’ll find red wine in beef, lamb and tomato sauce recipes, as well. Red wine’s tannins, the elements that give red wine its bitterness and astringency, provide a richness that is well-suited for less delicate meats. One thing to keep in mind when making pan sauces with red wine is to avoid overcooking or over-reducing it — otherwise, the sauce can be bitter. Medium-bodied reds such as Pinot Noir, Chianti, Merlot and light Cabernet tend to be best for cooking.

Lemon Pepper Steak with Red Wine Shallot Sauce

Lemon Pepper Steak and Wine

While this sounds like a dish you’d see featured on an upscale steakhouse menu, this steak recipe is so simple that you can whip it up with ingredients from your fridge and pantry in less than 30 minutes (after a one-hour marinade). The red wine shallot sauce only uses four ingredients, plus fresh oregano.

Elk Standing Rib Roast

Elk Standing Rib Roast Recipe

Unless you know hunters, you’re not likely to have an elk roast in your freezer, but many high-end butcher shops sell elk and other game meats. Cooking elk is similar to cooking beef, so don’t hesitate to try it. This standing elk roast is a showstopper. This recipe uses Madeira, a fortified wine that gets its name from the Portuguese island of Madeira.

More on Game Meat: The F.N. Sharp Guide to Different Cuts of Meat

Creamy Garlic Parmesan Red Wine Spaghetti

Red Wine Spaghetti Recipe

For an unusual take on spaghetti, try this red wine pasta recipe as a main dish or a “primi” (first course in Italian). The spaghetti is boiled with red wine and water, so it picks up a beautiful dark pink hue. The uncomplicated sauce uses red wine, olive oil, garlic, parmesan cheese and a little bit of cream.

Wine & Cheese Grilled Cheese

Wine and Grilled Cheese Recipe

Wine and cheese are paired so often, they’re like a centuries-long married couple. So what better way to enjoy wine and cheese than in a grilled cheese sandwich! This flavor-loaded easy meal turns a boring weeknight dinner into something special.

More on Wine and Cheese: How to Pair Italian Wine and Cheese

Port Wine Recipes to Try

Port wine is a fortified wine from Portugal’s Douro Valley. Fortified wines contain a distilled spirit, usually brandy, so they are a little sweet and higher in alcohol. Port comes in four basic styles: Ruby Red, Tawny, White and Rosé. Ruby Red Port (a fruity, young wine) and Tawny Port (aged in wood with complex caramel and nut flavors) are the most common types used in cooking.

Chicken, Mushrooms, and Tomatoes with Port Wine Recipe

Chicken and Mushroom Wine Sauce Recipe

This scrumptious chicken dish is easy and quick, yet it sounds like something you’ve slaved over. You can impress your dinner guests or delight your family on a weeknight, and they’ll marvel over how you managed to pull it together. Mushrooms, shallots, plum tomatoes, fresh parsley and Port wine (Ruby Red would be best) combine to create a flavor-loaded sauce that transforms boring boneless chicken breasts into an explosion of flavors.

Pork Chops in Port Wine Sauce

Port Wine Pork Chops Recipe

Here is another uncomplicated yet savory meal you can make to wow dinner guests or jazz up a weeknight meal. To save time, you can make the sauce featuring shallots, Port wine, plum preserves and chicken broth ahead of time and reheat it. Serve the pork and sauce over rice or polenta so no drop goes to waste.

Cranberry Sauce with Port

Port Wine Cranberry Sauce Recipe

With Thanksgiving coming up, this new take on a traditional cranberry sauce will please even the pickiest eaters. And best of all, it requires only cranberries, Port wine and light brown sugar — and it only takes about 20 minutes to prepare! Make extra to refrigerate and use later.

Port Wine Sauce for Filet Mignon or Prime Rib

Port Wine Sauce

This versatile Port wine sauce uses three and a quarter cups of Tawny Port (8 servings), so it costs more to make than many other wine-based sauces. The rich, flavor-laden sauce with dried porcini mushrooms, balsamic vinegar and butter is well worth it. It takes some time, but you can make most of it a day or two in advance.

Red Snapper and Morels in Port Reduction

Port Wine Pork Chops Recipe

This tantalizing red snapper recipe from renowned chef Eric Ripert uses Ruby Red Port and Sherry vinegar. Fresh wild mushrooms and asparagus tips round out the flavors of this sophisticated yet straightforward dish.

Dessert Recipes to Try

Wine is a fabulous ingredient in dessert dishes, as well, and it can turn ordinary ice cream and cake into elegant, dinner-guest-worthy delights. You’ll find dessert recipes that call for white, red, rosé and fortified wines such a Port.

Rosé Cupcakes with Rosewater Berry Compote

Rose Cupcakes Recipe

In this F.N. Sharp video, learn how to use sparkling rosé wine in a cupcake batter topped with a berry compote. Fresh strawberries and raspberries, rose water and lemon zest are the compote’s highlights. More sparking rosé creates a light glaze that is brushed over the cupcakes. You won’t be able to whip this one up in 30 minutes, but the results are spectacular.

Milk Chocolate Mousse with Port Ganache and Whipped Crème Fraîche

Port Wine Ganache Mousse Recipe

You’ll think you’re dining in a celebrity chef’s restaurant with this fabulous dessert featuring Ruby Red Port. The Port elevates already decadent ganache (a mixture of chocolate and whipping cream) to a new level. It’s topped with chocolate mousse, whipped crème fraiche, then drizzled with a Port wine syrup.

Chocolate-Red Wine Cake

Chocolate Red Wine Cake

Turn ordinary chocolate cake into a gourmet dessert in this recipe that uses one and a quarter cups of dry red wine. The wine prevents the cake from being overly sweet and gives it complexity. A little dusting of confectioner’s sugar and whipped cream create a nice contrast to the dark cake.

Merlot Hot Fudge Sauce

Merlot Hot Fudge Sauce Recipe

Pour this decadent but easy-to-make sauce over just about anything — ice cream, fruit, pound cake, angel food cake — and your guests will gobble it up! It uses just three tablespoons of Merlot, so choose a good one so you can enjoy the rest of the bottle with dinner. You can make it up to a week in advance and reheat just before serving.

Drunken Pear Gingerbread Loaf

Drunken Pear Ginger Bread Recipe

This upscale version of gingerbread uses pears poached in a bottle of white wine, sugar, cinnamon sticks and cardamom pods. It sounds complicated, but it’s not. Before baking the bread, the poached pears slide into the batter whole, so once baked and cut open, the bread is not only delicious, it’s Instagram-worthy!