Red wine vinegar is a great multipurpose food staple to keep in your cupboard at all times.
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From salad dressings and reductions to marinades for meat and vegetables alike, red wine vinegar will add a rich, tangy kick of flavor to many delicious dishes.
However, red wine vinegar has a tendency to spoil faster than other types of vinegar.
Research has also shown that, although there are plenty of health benefits to red wine vinegar consumed in moderation (better heart health and more regulated glucose levels in the blood), excessive consumption of this vinegar can lead to negative health effects. Sometimes you just need a red wine vinegar substitute.
These include digestive issues and low blood pressure.
Therefore, as delectable as it is, there are many reasons why you might need or want to switch out your red wine vinegar substitute for an alternative now and again.
Luckily, there are several excellent substitutes for red wine vinegar that will contribute a similar fruity, acidic flavor to your cooking.
In this article, we’ll be introducing you to the 7 best red wine vinegar substitutes and giving you our personal recommendations for the best products.
So what can I use in place of red wine vinegar? I've always found a great red wine vinegar substitute is one half white vinegar and one half red wine. Just mix them in equal parts. If you're trying to avoid alcohol, you can use unsweetened, or low sugar grape juice.
We’ve also curated a buyer’s guide packed with additional information.
White Wine Vinegar
Of all the red wine vinegar substitutes on the market, white wine vinegar is probably the most similar in taste and the easiest to swap into whatever recipe you’re working from.
This is due to 2 separate factors. Firstly, red and white wine vinegars are very similar in terms of acidity, so you won’t need to compensate in any way for discrepancies in bitterness.
Secondly, because red and white wine vinegars are roughly identical in consistency and density, they can be incorporated into dishes using the same ratio.
White wine vinegar is, however, slightly milder than its red wine counterpart, so the flavors might not come through as strongly.
You could remedy this either by augmenting the quantity of vinegar used or by adding a splash of red wine to the recipe to bring those bolder flavors to the forefront.
OUR TOP PICK
In our opinion, the best white wine vinegar to use as a substitute for red wine vinegar is the Whole Foods Market 365 white vinegar brand.
This is high-quality white wine vinegar, made in Italy using the finest white grapes and production methods that meet Whole Foods Market’s meticulous standards when it comes to quality.
Not only does this white vinegar taste great, as per customer testimonials, but it’s also a healthy option that is well suited to a wide range of dietary requirements.
This vinegar formula is free from GMOs, sodium, and fat. It’s compatible with vegan, paleolithic, and ketogenic diets, and no extra sugar has been added.
The lack of extra sugar makes this a really versatile white wine vinegar that can be used as it is in a variety of dishes.
Sweeteners could also be added as desired, so you can easily modify this vinegar to suit any recipe.
Another great feature of this white wine vinegar is that it’s very affordably priced, making it an accessible option for most home cooks.
Because it’s so delicious, affordable, and versatile, however, it can be easy to overconsume white wine vinegar.
As with red wine vinegar, consuming too much can lead to gastrointestinal irritation, so it’s wise to use moderation when adding this vinegar to food.
- Produced in Italy
- Sodium and fat-free
- No added sugar
- Non-GMO and vegan
- Paleo and keto-friendly
- Very affordable
- Risk of digestive irritation if overconsumed
For dinner parties, special occasions, or even just as an indulgent treat, sherry vinegar will contribute an underlying tartness to your vinaigrettes and marinades along with an extra sweetness you won’t find in most red wine vinegar.
Sherry vinegar makes the perfect flavorsome addition to just about any marinade or dressing, and it’s absolutely delicious when lightly drizzled over chicken or beef.
It’s ideal for dishes that call for a little something sweet, although you might want to exclude any other sugars or sweeteners recommended by the recipe to avoid overpowering the other flavors.
Sherry vinegar also has an extensive range of potential health benefits! Scientific studies have shown that consuming small amounts of sherry vinegar on a daily basis may lower blood glucose levels while boosting high-density lipoproteins (otherwise known as ‘good cholesterol’).
The main drawback of using sherry vinegar as a substitute for red wine vinegar is that it can be significantly more expensive.
Therefore, it may not be an accessible or affordable option for everyone. It can also be quite difficult to find in stores outside of online retailers, so it’s not the easiest option to use in a pinch.
Columela’s Sherry Vinegar works especially well as a substitute for red wine vinegar. This brand of vinegar has been made in Spain - the 3rd largest wine-producing country worldwide.
The sherry vinegar from Columela has been aged using the traditional solera method, which involves gradually mixing fresh wine into more aged wine.
This method of aging wine and wine-based vinegar ensures consistency across vintages, so you can always trust in the quality and flavor of this vinegar.
This particular sherry vinegar has been aged for 30 years. As a result, it’s stronger than other sherry vinegars.
The combination of slightly sweet richness with a more noticeable than usual acidity makes this sherry vinegar the ideal substitute for red wine vinegar.
- Produced in Spain
- Aged consistently using the solera method
- Strong flavors
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar makes a great substitute for red wine vinegar when you’re looking to bring a slightly lighter, sweeter flavor to your dish.
If you’re looking for a substitute that brings the fruitiness of red wine vinegar to the table without the full extent of its acidity.
This type of vinegar is also really good for you, so you can add it to any recipe you like absolutely guilt-free!
High-quality apple cider vinegar contains potassium and antioxidants, so it can provide a natural boost for your nervous and immune systems.
It’s also an excellent preservative, and some studies have shown that it can help to manage blood sugar levels and assist in weight loss.
The only problem with using apple cider vinegar as a substitute for red wine vinegar is that it may be too sweet for some more savory recipes, or recipes that rely on the taste of red wine for overall flavor.
For this reason, we recommend using 1 part red wine for every 3 parts apple cider vinegar.
Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar will certainly produce dishes to brag about!
This apple cider vinegar is organic and free from GMOs. It’s also gluten-free, suitable for vegans, and certified Kosher.
Along with all the health benefits of apple cider vinegar mentioned above, Bragg’s apple cider vinegar contains enzymes, proteins, and beneficial bacteria that promote digestive health and cleansing.
This is partly due to the ‘Mother’ sediment included in this formula.
This is such a versatile and health-enhancing product that we’re sure you’ll get a lot more use out of it than just substituting for red wine vinegar.
You can add it to tea, soup, and salads, or even take it alone as a daily health shot! My husband uses it as a salad dressing.
- Organic and non-GMO
- Vegan and gluten-free
- Certified Kosher
- Contains beneficial bacteria for gut health
- Not enough Mother for some customers
Balsamic vinegar is a popular kitchen staple, which makes it an ideal substitute for red wine vinegar because it’s much more likely to be found in your average kitchen cupboard than some of the other substitutes featured here.
But balsamic vinegar’s usefulness as a red wine vinegar substitute doesn’t stop at its popularity or accessibility.
This is a highly versatile type of vinegar substitute that works just as well for marinating meat as it does for dressing salads. The flavor is so mild and complementary that it can even be added to fruit salad!
Balsamic vinegar can also be very beneficial for your health due to its composition. High-quality balsamic vinegar will contain antioxidants and compounds that fight harmful bacteria.
It has also been proven to be effective at lowering blood pressure, stimulating weight loss, and promoting digestive function.
Because this is another vinegar product that is significantly milder in taste and acidity than red wine vinegar, we recommend holding back on any other sweeteners included in your original recipe if you want to get as close to the intended flavor as possible.
Colavita’s Balsamic Vinegar is made in Italy and has been aged for 3 years in a variety of barrels, including cherry, walnut, and oak.
Because of this, the vinegar is very aromatic and full of rich flavors.
This balsamic vinegar works particularly well as a red wine vinegar substitute because of its 6% acidity rating. The average acidity for vinegar is around 5%, with the majority of balsamic and wine-based vinegar ranking at around 6%.
Therefore, while balsamic vinegar may be sweeter than red wine vinegar in general, this balsamic vinegar is a good match in terms of acidity.
Because this is a high-quality balsamic vinegar, it’s a little costlier than some of the other balsamic vinegar brands on the market, and most vinegars in general.
However, with so many satisfied customers praising its rich, thick consistency and flavorful balance of sweetness and acidity, we can confidently say that it’s worth the money.
- Produced in Modena, Italy
- Optimal 6% acidity
- Thick, rich consistency
- Quite expensive
Red wine seems like the obvious substitute for red wine vinegar, and in many ways, it is.
The reason it’s not right at the top of our list is that generally speaking, red wine will not contribute the same sharp acidity as red wine vinegar which, for many people, is part and parcel of the taste experience.
However, we’ve found that a strong, tannic red wine will recreate the fruity tartness of red wine vinegar beautifully.
Normally, most people tend to avoid overly tannic wines because the bitterness can be a little overpowering. As a substitute for red wine vinegar, though, the astringency really comes into its own.
Red wine also works well as an addition to some of the other substitutes on this list if you’re having trouble getting the flavor right.
For example, red wine could be added to lemon juice to create a tasty vinaigrette, or to white wine or apple cider vinegar for a little extra full-bodied flavoring.
Studies have even shown that red wine contains antioxidants that contribute to good heart health and the prevention of certain cancers!
Be careful not to use too much, though! Red wine vinegar typically contains less than 2% ethanol, so using actual red wine as a substitute will yield much boozier results.
We think that Alamos’ Mendoza Malbec makes the perfect alcoholic substitute for red wine vinegar.
The great thing about this red wine is that, as an Argentinian Malbec, it’s noticeably quite tannic, but the tannins are soft enough that you can still enjoy the fruity flavors underneath.
We would recommend this wine for use in a marinade for poultry or red meat, although the notes of plum, dark cherry, and blackberry also make it ideal as a fruit salad dressing.
Just watch out for the alcohol content with this one - at 13.5% alcohol, this wine is very strong for use in cooking, so we recommend adding it very gradually and sparingly until your desired flavor is achieved.
- Soft but noticeable tannins
- Delicious dark fruit notes
- Very strong
Rice vinegar or a rice wine vinegar is one you might not have heard of before, but it’s a highly versatile product and such a good red wine vinegar substitute that once you use it, you might never go back!
Although rice wine vinegar isn’t particularly flavorful, it is reasonably acidic, so it will provide the required astringency if not the taste.
Because the flavor is so mild, it’s also easy to mix with other ingredients if you find that the flavor is lacking.
Rice vinegar has been shown to promote nutrient absorbency in the digestive system and is also great for cardiovascular health and immune function.
Marukan’s Genuine Brewed Rice Vinegar is a shining example of the versatility and health benefits of rice vinegar.
This formula is free from gluten, sodium, sugar, and GMOs, so it’s suitable for those trying to live a healthier lifestyle as well as those who are intolerant or allergic to gluten.
Although this rice vinegar, and rice vinegar in general, isn’t particularly flavorful, the taste it does have is smooth and enjoyable.
Additionally, the subtle taste makes this vinegar easier to incorporate into recipes without overpowering other flavors.
- Gluten-free and non-GMO
- Sodium and sugar-free
- Smooth, pleasant taste
- Not much flavor
In a pinch, lemon juice is an affordable, easily accessible, and healthy substitute for red wine vinegar.
Of course, it won’t produce the same rich and fruity flavor combinations as red wine vinegar would, but it can be used to lend a light, complementary sharpness to a variety of dishes in much the same way.
Although lemon juice isn’t the best choice for recipes that are dependant on the taste of red wine for the dish’s overall flavor, it’s a cheap and accessible option for dishes that require a little zesty kick.
Lemon juice is very hydrating, high in Vitamin C, and has even been proven to boost metabolism, so this is a good red wine vinegar substitute for health-conscious cooks.
Lucy’s Family Owned Lemon Juice consists of 100% lemon juice, which is the equivalent of about 80 lemons’ worth of juice per gallon! For a strong, natural lemony flavor, you’ll struggle to top this product.
Water has been added to the formula to make the juice more palatable and closer to the lemons’ natural strength and flavor than other concentrated juice formulae.
The only obvious drawback to this lemon juice is that it’s from concentrate, which means that it is likely to be lower in fiber and higher in preservatives than other brands.
However, the added preservatives have the advantage of keeping this gallon of lemon juice flavorsome and safe to consume for longer.
- 100% lemon juice
- Long-lasting flavor
- Available by the gallon
- From concentrate
The 7 Best Red Wine Vinegar Substitutes Buying Guide
Now that you’ve had a chance to browse all the best substitutes for red wine vinegar, we hope you’ll have an idea of which vinegar or wine will complement your cooking best.
However, with so many products to choose from, we thought a little extra guidance wouldn’t go amiss.
This buyer’s guide will take you through the key factors of flavor, nutrition, and availability so that you can make the tastiest, healthiest, and most convenient choice!
The products we’ve reviewed and recommended in this article are all excellent substitutes for red wine vinegar, but it’s important to note that none of them (barring some expert mixing on your end!) will perfectly recreate the exact flavor of the original.
Rather, they all provide delicious fruitiness and (for the most part) tart acidity that mirrors the unique taste of red wine vinegar whilst contributing something slightly different.
Therefore, when it comes to red wine vinegar substitutes, the flavor should be judged not only in terms of how exactly the tastes match up but also by what the new substitute can contribute to your dish in its own right.
For a richer, bolder flavor that is closer to red wine vinegar, we recommend substituting sherry vinegar, white wine vinegar, or red wine. You can also take a look at champagne vinegar.
Slightly milder vinegars that will enhance the flavor of your dish on a more subtle level include balsamic vinegar and apple cider vinegar. White vinegar is my favorite vinegar substitute.
If all you want is to contribute a zip of acidity to your cooking without contributing too much additional flavor, the best options are rice vinegar or lemon juice. Other options to choose would be malt vinegar, grape juice, herb vinegar, lime juice, fruit vinegar, sherry wine, citrus juice, and apple juice. Cranberry juice and olive oil are also options.
The red wine vinegar substitutes listed in this article don’t just taste amazing - they’re also surprisingly good for you!
We’ve tried to include as many GMO and sugar-free options in our recommendations as possible to promote healthy living.
Additionally, many of the products featured above include essential nutrients such as vitamins, antioxidants, and proteins, with health benefits that range from weight loss and lower blood pressure to decreased risks of heart disease and even cancers.
For more detailed product-by-product nutritional commentaries, see the product overviews above.
Sometimes, cooking substitutions are planned for health reasons or because of dietary requirements.
A lot of the time, though, the reality more closely resembles a frantic trip to the nearest store hours (or minutes) before mealtime.
That’s why availability is an essential factor to consider with any food substitutes, vinegar substitute included.
If you have time to search for or order your red wine vinegar substitute beforehand, products like sherry vinegar, which are both harder to find and more expensive than other options, may be quite easily accessible for you.
On the other hand, if you’re pressed for time, more standard vinegar types such as balsamic vinegar will be more readily available in local stores. The same is true for products like red wine and lemon juice.
For apple cider or rice vinegar, we would recommend ordering online or checking out your local health store.
Best Red Wine Vinegar Substitutes - Frequently Asked Questions
Most kinds of vinegar can be used relatively interchangeably. This is because recipes do not commonly call for large quantities, so flavor differences are hard to notice.
The best substitute for red wine vinegar is white wine vinegar. The flavor profiles are incredibly similar, but you may notice a slight visual difference due to the colors.
Another good substitute is sherry vinegar. This is slightly more brown than red wine vinegar and has a milder, less acidic flavor profile.
If you are substituting sherry vinegar for red wine vinegar you are likely to need to add in slightly more than the stated quantity in the recipe.
Rice vinegar, or rice wine vinegar, is again a milder substitute for red wine vinegar. It can be found in the Asian aisle of food stores and will work in a pinch.
Can you use apple cider vinegar in place of red wine vinegar?
Yes, you can use apple cider vinegar as a substitute for red wine vinegar. It will not produce quite the same flavor, as apple cider vinegar is fruitier. In a dish that only calls for a small quantity of red wine vinegar, you are unlikely to notice the difference.
Is balsamic vinegar the same as red wine vinegar?
No, they are not the same. Balsamic vinegar is made from grapes soon after harvest. They are juiced and this is reduced by ⅔.
This liquid is then fermented in wooden casks for at least 12 years to become sweet and concentrated. It is used as a standalone salad dressing and is often served with roasted strawberries.
Red wine vinegar is made from red wine. This is aged for 1-2 years and so has a decidedly less sweet taste than balsamic vinegar. The acidic flavor profile works perfectly in salad dressings, marinades, and sauces.