Sauterne wine is a sweet wine made from a combination of grape cultivars. It's not the same as Sauternes wine, which is a sweet wine produced in a specific region of France. Still, sauterne wine is valuable for its sweetness in cooking, and many who have used sauterne before do recommend it. Over the years, sauterne became less easy to find, but now more companies are starting to make it again. If you have some recipes that call for a sweet white wine, and you want to see if a sauterne wine would work well, keep the following in mind:
Sauterne wines usually have sugar added to enhance the sweetness of the grapes used. This means that any recipe in which you use a sauterne could become sweeter than you're used to, depending on the amount used. If you're using only a tablespoon or so, obviously, that's not going to add much sweetness above what the recipe already calls for. But if you have to add a half cup or a cup, then you could see an effect. If the recipe also calls for other sweet ingredients like brown sugar, you might want to try the recipe as written and then make it a second time, adjusting those other sweet ingredients as needed. Aim for a delicate sweetness; you're not trying to overwhelm the dish with sugar.
As with other cooking wines, always be conscious of how long the wine is actually cooked. People often assume alcohol burns off, but they don't realize that it burns off very slowly. A quick stir over low heat isn't going to get rid of much of that alcohol at all. If you are serving the dish to people who have to avoid all alcohol for medical or religious reasons, make sure it's one in which the alcohol is cooked for at least a couple of hours -- and then warn the people anyway.
Slightly Different Flavors
Sauterne wines don't really have a standardized recipe and can be made from several different types of grapes in combination. That means that sauterne from one vineyard may taste slightly different from a sauterne from another vineyard. Again, in small amounts, this won't really change the taste of the dish too much, but in larger amounts, particularly larger uncooked amounts, you might taste a slight difference. That's not necessarily bad, by the way.
Get a few small bottles of different sauterne wines and have some fun cooking up a storm. You'll likely find at least a couple of brands that work well with your tastes.