5 Prime Substitutes for Red Wine Vinegar

No one who cooks wants to deal with an empty jar of ingredients, from professionals to amateur chefs to laypeople. Usually, the meal is midway into cooking, and one doesn’t have enough time to visit the grocery store, or the ingredients just available nearby. It is in times like these; food substitutions come in handy. This article talks about how you can substitute red wine vinegar.

Vinegar is one of the numerous ingredients that is regularly used in cooking. While this means it is always in the pantry, you also have a higher chance of running out of it. The type of vinegar you choose relies essentially on your natural and acquired tastes.

So, what is red wine? Why is it used? And what can you substitute for it? Let’s dive into the sophisticated world of winemaking and red wine food profile.

What is red wine vinegar?

A staple ingredient in Mediterranean cooking, red wine vinegar is made from soured red wine. First, it is fermented, then strained, and finally bottled. It is often aged before bottling to reduce the potency of the flavor. 

The French typically prefer red wine vinegar for marinades and vinaigrettes. This vinegar has a tangy taste and makes for great salad dressing. Moreover, since it is fat-free and low-calorie, it is a great way to amp up the zestiness of your recipe without having to worry about adding unnecessary body fat.

The acidic qualities of red wine vinegar are credited to the work of a bacteria called acetobacter, which provides its unique flavor profile during fermentation.

Can we substitute red wine for red wine vinegar?

You can replace red wine for red wine vinegar in vinaigrette or marinade recipes. But, salad dressing will likely not emulsify if you don’t add vinegar to it. Thus, you can add a tiny amount of whisked mustard to prevent the salad dressing from breaking. Furthermore, you can’t substitute red wine vinegar for red wine in cooking as these recipes call for the acidic properties of vinegar for denaturing proteins.

Is red wine vinegar good for you?

Yes, it is! Some of the most well-understood red wine vinegar benefits are:

  • It lowers blood sugar levels: Acetic acid is a primary component of vinegar. This acid helps in reducing blood sugar levels. Red wine vinegar has also been observed to decrease the GI of foods.
  • It promotes weight loss: Although it doesn’t have any fat-burning properties of its own, red wine vinegar can support weight loss by increasing feelings of fullness and by delaying the secretion of hunger hormones.
  • It boosts heart health: The acetic acid and polyphenols in red wine vinegar aid in decreasing the total cholesterol level, blood pressure (BP), and triglycerides as their high levels are considered risk factors for heart diseases.
  • Protects the skin: Red wine vinegar contains acetic acid and antioxidants, therapeutic for bacterial infections and other skin conditions like burns. But, there isn’t adequate research to support the exact extent of red wine vinegar’s effect on the skin. 


Red Wine Vinegar Recipes:

  • Blistered Cheesy Peppers
  • Italian Chopped Salad
  • Brussels Sprouts With Cranberry Mostarda
  • Expertly Spiced and Glazed Roast Turkey
  • Glazed Leeks With Pine Nut Salsa Verde


Try These Five Prime Substitutes for Red Wine Vinegar

I have mentioned some of the best and my favorite substitutes for red wine vinegar in the list below:

1. A Blend of Red Wine and White Vinegar

For dishes that do not work with red wine, you can mimic red wine vinegar by mixing white vinegar plus red wine, as red wine vinegar and white vinegar are interchangeable in most recipes.

White vinegar lends the acidic properties needed for the recipe. Meanwhile, red wine provides the flavor profile of red wine vinegar. On the same note, if you are short of a little red wine vinegar, you can always add white vinegar until the required amount has been obtained.

What is the ideal ratio for this mixture?

A great place, to begin with, is a 1:3 ratio of red wine to white vinegar. For instance, use one tablespoon of red wine and three tablespoons of white vinegar to get ideal results. However, I’d suggest that you let the mixture sit for a couple of hours before using it. This way, you get time to make some adjustments to prevent any variation in taste.

Where can I use this substitute?

The best thing about this sub is that you can use it in any recipe that requires red wine vinegar, such as salad dressings, caramelized onions, and even sautéed mushrooms. However, this substitution works only one way. By this, I mean that you cannot substitute red wine vinegar for red wine, as red wine is a tad too mild, and adding red wine vinegar in its place will make your dish too sour or acidic.


2. Sherry Wine Vinegar

Another option you can try is to substitute red wine vinegar for sherry vinegar. Sherry vinegar is a Spanish vinegar made by fermenting sherry wine. Like red wine, it is later strained and bottled too. However, the color of sherry vinegar is more brown than red.

Sherry vinegar has a roundness in its flavor, therefore, it tends to be slightly less harsh and acidic than red or white wine vinegar. Besides, it boasts a delightful undertone of caramel notes. Therefore, you’ll have to tip in a little more sherry vinegar than the recipe calls for, to ideally match the acidity imparted by red wine vinegar.

Also, since it offers a sweeter flavor than red wine vinegar, make sure to lessen any additional sweetness in the recipe you’re cooking to balance everything out.

What ratio should I use it in?

In general, you can use sherry vinegar in equal amounts to red wine vinegar. But, if you are bothered by its mild taste, you’ll have to add a bit extra.

Where can I use this substitute?

Sherry vinegar is an all-purpose vinegar for vinaigrettes and marinades. You may also use it for spicing up roasted vegetables or meats, soups, and stews.


3. Balsamic Vinegar

From bruschetta to poultry to Caprese salads, balsamic is a champion. This vinegar is a sweet, rich, and brown liquid made from fermented grape juice. It carries undertones of molasses, figs, and cherry.

Hailing from Modena, Italy, this red wine vinegar sub is similar to sherry vinegar as it is also milder and sweeter than red wine vinegar. Still, you can use it as a replacement for the ingredient, especially when making an Italian dish.

This substitute for red wine vinegar balances acidity with a bold and rich flavor profile and gives your dish an extra kick. Although balsamic vinegar works great for salad dressings, you should use it 1:1 as a replacement. Moreover, you may also use it in marinades for meats and vegetables.

Red Wine Vinegar vs. Balsamic Vinegar

Red Wine Vinegar Balsamic Vinegar
Acidity 6-7% 4-5%
Fermentation time 1-2 years 12+ years
Taste Sharp and tangy Mild and mellow

How much balsamic vinegar should I use?

When using balsamic vinegar as a substitute for red wine vinegar, you should cut the initial measurement by half or a bit more. Otherwise, your dish will get oversweet. As with using sherry wine, you’ll need to decrease the use of sweeteners elsewhere in the recipe. If you want to go up on acidity, try squeezing some lemon juice.


4. Tamarind Paste

Tamarind paste has excellent protein denaturing properties. While it’s not a vinegar, this red wine vinegar alternative is made from the sour tamarind fruit, it has a similar flavor to red wine vinegar. As a result, it works as a great substitute for red wine vinegar. It goes exceptionally well with Indian recipes.

While red wine vinegar is readily available, you can obtain tamarind paste yet more easily from specialty stores, Asian or Indian grocery markets, and online.

What amount should I use for this substitute?

However, it doesn’t do well as a red wine vinegar substitute in every recipe. Tamarind paste has an intense flavor. Therefore, while using it to substitute red wine vinegar, you should start with a small amount. I’d advise using one or two teaspoons. Moreover, you can raise the amount from there as required.

Where can I use this substitute?

Although it works best as a meat tenderizer, you can also use it to marinate seafood or other meats as it contains tartaric acid.


5. Lemon or Lime Juice

Like most vinegars, citrus juices such as lemon juice and lime rely on citric acid instead of acetic acid. However, this means citrus juice has an entirely diverse flavor profile compared to the aforementioned substitutes for red wine vinegar.

So, if your recipe does not require the unique taste exclusive to red wine vinegar only, then should you use lime or lemon juice as a red wine vinegar alternative. It is an excellent red wine vinegar alternative when you simply intend to acidulate water.

It is best to use this substitute when no other vinegar is available at hand. A squeeze of lemon or lime will lend your meal some freshness and brighten up different flavors of your dish, just like vinegar does.

This substitute works best for salad dressings. However, remember to use a little of it, as the sourness of lemon juice can be pretty overpowering.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use vinegar instead of white wine vinegar?
Yes! But remember, white vinegar is relatively stronger than white wine vinegar. So, dilute it with water and add a little sugar before use.
Can I mix red wine and vinegar to make red wine vinegar?
Yes! Get the ratios right, and you can have your very own homemade red wine vinegar. For example, using the ratio of 1:3 red wine to white vinegar will give you an uncannily similar blend to red wine vinegar.
What is a non-alcoholic substitute for red wine in cooking?
You can replace red wine in your dish with beef broth. Although beef broth is better, you can always use chicken broth and vegetable broth if you don’t have it at home. Other substitutes are pomegranate juice, cranberry juice, ginger ale, lemon/lime juice, and apple juice.

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