The Top 5 White Wines for Cooking Clams

Best types of white wine for cooking clams

When it comes to cooking clams, white wine is often a key ingredient in many recipes. Not only does it enhance the flavors of the dish, but it also helps keep the clams moist and tender during the cooking process. In this article, we will explore the best types of white wine for cooking clams, along with some tips on how to use them effectively.

1. Pinot Grigio

Pinot Grigio is a popular choice when it comes to cooking clams. This dry white wine is known for its light and fresh flavor, making it a versatile option for a variety of dishes. Pinot Grigio pairs well with salads, risotto, light chicken dishes, and of course, seafood such as clams.

2. Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is another excellent choice for cooking clams. This white wine can be both still and sparkling, with a flavor profile that can range from crisp to grassy and tropical. Its high acidity makes it ideal for cooking clams and other seafood dishes, as well as those that require a creamy sauce.

3. Chardonnay

When using Chardonnay to cook clams, it is best to choose an unoaked version. Oaked Chardonnay, which has been aged in oak barrels, tends to have notes of spice and smoke that may not complement the flavors of the clams. Unoaked Chardonnay, on the other hand, adds the necessary acidity to steam the clams and enhance the richness of the dish.

4. Sancerre

Sancerre is a crisp and acidic white wine that can enhance the flavors of clams. It is made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape variety and often has citrus notes. Although Sancerre is sometimes confused with Sauvignon Blanc, it is made specifically in the Sancerre region of France. Despite its reputation, inexpensive bottles of Sancerre can still be found and used to cook mussels.

5. Vermentino

Vermentino is a dry white wine similar to Sauvignon Blanc. It is a light-bodied wine with a complex flavor profile, including notes of green apple, almond and citrus. Vermentino is also known for its mild saltiness, which adds an intriguing element to dishes featuring clams.

How to cook clams in white wine

Cooking clams in white wine is an easy process that requires only a few simple steps. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you prepare delicious white wine steamed clams:

  1. Begin by thoroughly cleaning the clams. Place them in a bowl of cold water and let them soak for about 30 minutes. This will help remove any sand or grit from the clams. After soaking, scrub the clams to make sure they are clean and ready to cook.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add a combination of butter and olive oil to prevent burning.
  3. Once the butter has melted, add the chopped shallots, minced garlic cloves, and a tablespoon of red pepper flakes for a touch of heat. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the shallots and garlic are fragrant.
  4. Add the clams to the skillet and pour the white wine over them. Use about 1.5 cups of white wine for every two pounds of clams. Stir everything together, cover with a lid, and let the clams steam.
  5. Steam the clams for about 8 minutes or until they open completely. Discard any clams that remain closed after cooking as they may be unsafe to eat.
  6. When the clams are cooked, remove the pan from the heat. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the clams to add a refreshing flavor. Optionally, garnish the steamed clams with chopped parsley for added freshness and visual appeal.
  7. Give the clams a final toss to ensure they are coated with the flavors of the white wine and other ingredients.
  8. Serve the steamed clams with a slice of bread to soak up the flavorful broth and a glass of white wine to complement the dish.


In conclusion, white wine is an excellent choice for cooking clams because it enhances the flavors of the dish and helps keep the clams moist and tender. Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Sancerre and Vermentino are among the best white wines to use when cooking clams. Each brings its own unique characteristics and flavors to the dish, so experiment to find your favorite. Follow the simple steps above to steam clams in white wine and enjoy a delicious seafood meal with a glass of wine. Remember to choose a dry white wine that complements the flavors of the clams and adds a delightful touch to your culinary creation. Happy cooking!


Can I use any type of white wine to cook clams?

Yes, you can use different types of white wine to cook clams. However, dry white wines are generally the best choice because they complement the flavors of the clams without adding excessive sweetness.

Can I substitute red wine for white wine when cooking clams?

While it is possible to use red wine to cook clams, white wine is generally preferred because it works better with the delicate flavors of the clams. White wine helps to bring out the natural salty flavor of the clams without overpowering them.

Do I have to use an expensive white wine to cook clams?

No, you don’t have to use an expensive white wine to cook clams. There are many affordable options that can still produce excellent results. The key is to choose a white wine that you enjoy drinking and that complements the flavors of the clams.

How much white wine should I use to cook clams?

A general rule of thumb is to use about 1.5 cups of white wine for every two pounds of clams. However, you can adjust the amount based on your personal preference and the recipe you are following. The goal is to have enough wine to create steam and infuse the clams with flavor without overpowering them.

Can I serve the same white wine I used to cook the clams with?

Absolutely! Serving the same white wine you used for cooking can create a harmonious flavor experience. The wine will complement the flavors in the dish and provide a seamless pairing. Alternatively, you can choose a different white wine that pairs well with seafood to pair with cooked clams.

Are there alternatives to white wine for cooking clams?

If you prefer not to use white wine, you can substitute other liquids such as seafood stock, vegetable broth, or even water. While white wine adds unique flavors, these alternatives can still provide a tasty cooking medium for the clams. Experiment with different options to find the one that works best for you.