Red Wine Vinegar Substitutes

When experimenting with new recipes or trying to recreate a favorite dish, you might come across a call for red wine vinegar. This versatile ingredient is used in various types of dishes, from marinades to salad dressings. But what if you find yourself out of red wine vinegar or if you’re unable to consume it for personal reasons? Fortunately, there are a plethora of substitutes that you can use to achieve similar flavor profiles and results in your culinary adventures.

Understanding the distinct characteristics and flavor profile of red wine vinegar will help you select the best possible substitute for your specific dish. Additionally, considering factors such as acidity levels, cuisine type, and the intended purpose of the vinegar within the recipe can further refine your selection, ensuring the best outcome for your culinary creation. You’ll also want to weigh the potential health benefits and impacts of using a substitute, as some options may have differing nutritional values compared to red wine vinegar.

Key Takeaways

  • Red wine vinegar can be substituted with various ingredients in recipes.
  • Selecting the best substitute depends on factors like acidity, cuisine, and recipe purpose.
  • Consider the health benefits and impacts of using a substitute compared to red wine vinegar.
Bottles with different kinds of vinegar

Understanding Red Wine Vinegar

Red wine vinegar is a staple in many kitchens due to its versatility in culinary applications. It is produced by fermenting red wine, which allows the ethanol present in the wine to transform into acetic acid. This process results in a tangy, flavorful vinegar that has a characteristic acidity useful for a variety of recipes.

Usually, red wine vinegar is aged in wooden barrels for a specific period, which helps develop its unique flavor profile. The wooden barrels impart subtle flavors and aromas to the vinegar, making it a preferred choice for enhancing the taste of various dishes. Aging the vinegar also affects its acidity, and in general, the longer it is aged, the smoother and more mellow its taste becomes.

In your cooking, you’ll appreciate red wine vinegar’s ability to add a bright, sharp tang to dishes, as well as its capacity to help balance out the flavors of rich, savory ingredients. This versatile condiment is particularly popular for use in salad dressings, marinades, and sauces, as well as for deglazing pans and pickling vegetables.

Moreover, red wine vinegar offers certain health benefits as well. It is known to possess antioxidant properties and may help in reducing bad cholesterol levels. Additionally, incorporating vinegar into your meals can promote digestion and stabilize blood sugar levels.

Through this understanding, you can now better appreciate the role of red wine vinegar in your culinary endeavors and make informed decisions when choosing or substituting this essential ingredient in your recipes.

Why Do We Need Substitutes

Sometimes, you may find yourself in a situation where red wine vinegar is called for in a recipe, but you don’t have any on hand. In these instances, knowing suitable substitutes is essential to enhance the flavor of your dishes without compromising on taste.

One of the primary uses of red wine vinegar is in salad dressings. It’s the acidity in vinegar that helps to balance the flavor in vinaigrettes and other dressings. When you’re fresh out of red wine vinegar, alternative ingredients with similar acidity levels can be used.

Likewise, vinegar is a key component in various marinades, acting as a tenderizer for meats and seafood. By properly substituting the red wine vinegar with another suitable ingredient, you’ll maintain the desired tenderizing effect and infuse flavors into your dish.

Moreover, many sauces and vinaigrettes rely on the tanginess and richness of red wine vinegar to enhance their flavor profiles. Substitutes can be used to maintain this balance and bring the perfect contrast to your salads and other dishes.

In summary, having red wine vinegar substitutes at your disposal ensures that you can still create delicious, flavorful dishes – even when faced with limited pantry supplies. By understanding the properties and acidity levels of various substitutes, you can confidently adapt recipes to suit your needs.

Homemade herb and spice red and white wine vinegars.

Ingredients That Can Substitute Red Wine Vinegar

If you’re looking for a substitute for red wine vinegar, there are several ingredients that can easily replace it in your recipes. Here are some options:

White wine vinegar: This is a great alternative as it also has a subtle wine flavor. The acidity level is comparable, so you can use it in a 1:1 ratio. White wine vinegar is suitable for salad dressings, marinades, and sauces.

Sherry vinegar: With its rich, nutty, and slightly sweet taste, sherry vinegar holds a strong resemblance to red wine vinegar. Use it in equal proportions as a substitute in vinaigrettes, marinades, or deglazing.

Balsamic vinegar: Although sweeter and thicker than red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar can work in some recipes. Keep in mind that its distinct flavor might change the taste of your dish. Use it sparingly, and consider mixing it with water to dilute the sweetness.

Apple cider vinegar: Another versatile option, apple cider vinegar has a milder flavor than red wine vinegar. It works well in salad dressings, marinades, and pickling. Substitute it at a 1:1 ratio.

Rice wine vinegar: With a slightly sweet taste and lower acidity, rice wine vinegar can replace red wine vinegar in many recipes. It’s commonly used in Asian cuisine. Use a 1:1 ratio, but consider adding a pinch of sugar to mimic the acidity of red wine vinegar.

Champagne vinegar: Made from champagne grapes, this vinegar has a light and delicate flavor. Use it as a substitute in equal parts, especially in recipes that call for a more subtle vinegar taste.

Malt vinegar: Though it has a stronger flavor, malt vinegar can be used when red wine vinegar is unavailable. It’s best in recipes that can handle its distinct taste, like pickling or some sauces. Use it in a 1:1 ratio.

Lemon or lime juice: In a pinch, citrus juices can substitute for red wine vinegar. They provide acidity but have a different flavor profile. Use half the amount of juice as you would vinegar and adjust to taste.

Tamarind paste: Tamarind paste offers a tangy and fruity flavor that works as a substitute for red wine vinegar. Dilute it with water (1 part tamarind paste to 2 parts water), and use it in a 1:1 ratio. This alternative is especially useful in Indian and Middle Eastern recipes.

Remember that each substitute will impart its unique flavor to your dish. Depending on the recipe and your personal taste preferences, it’s worth experimenting with these alternatives to find the one that suits your needs best.

Factors To Consider When Choosing Substitutes

When you’re selecting a substitute for red wine vinegar, it’s crucial to consider your recipe’s requirements and the unique attributes of various alternatives. Here are some essential factors to keep in mind.

Acidity Level: Red wine vinegar has a moderate acidity, and you’ll want to choose a substitute with a similar acidity level to maintain the recipe’s balance. Keep in mind that some vinegar types, like white wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar, have slightly varying acidity levels but can still prove effective substitutes.

Milder Flavor: Some substitutes might have a milder flavor than red wine vinegar. In this case, you can increase the quantity to achieve the desired taste. For instance, rice vinegar has a milder and less pungent flavor compared to red wine vinegar, so you can add more of it without overpowering the dish.

Flavor Profiles: Match the general taste of your chosen substitute to that of red wine vinegar as closely as possible. Taking into account the flavor profiles, such as fruity taste, pungent essence, and sweetness, can help to maintain consistency in your dish.

Fruity Taste and Sweetness: Some substitutes, like balsamic and raspberry vinegar, offer a fruit-forward flavor and a higher level of sweetness than red wine vinegar. Keep that in mind when making your choice, especially if your recipe calls for a fruity taste or added sweetness.

Remember to have confidence in your choices, and consider your recipe’s specific needs. By doing so, you’ll ensure the best possible result while still capturing the essence of the missing red wine vinegar.

Glass bottle with wine vinegar and fresh grapes on wooden table

Using Vinegar Substitutes In Various Types Of Dishes

When working with different types of dishes, it’s essential to choose the right vinegar substitute that complements the flavors and achieves the desired effect. Here are some suggestions for using vinegar substitutes in various recipes.

For marinades, opt for lighter vinegar substitutes like apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar. These types of vinegar provide the necessary acidity without overpowering the taste of your ingredients.

In stews and soups, you can use a more robust vinegar substitute, such as balsamic vinegar or sherry vinegar. These lend a rich and bold flavor, enhancing the dish’s complexity.

Pickling recipes require vinegar with a high acidity level for preservation purposes. Lemon juice or distilled white vinegar is the ideal choice in these scenarios. Additionally, rice vinegar can be used for an Asian-inspired pickling solution.

When making chimichurri, red wine vinegar is traditionally used. However, white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar can do the job if you don’t have red wine vinegar available. These substitutes still provide the tanginess that chimichurri needs.

For salad dressings and vinaigrettes, consider using white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or even lemon juice. If you’re making a balsamic vinaigrette, balsamic vinegar is an obvious choice, but a balsamic reduction can mimic its flavor.

Creating reductions may require specific types of vinegar, depending on the dish. Balsamic vinegar is popular for reductions because of its rich flavor. If you don’t have balsamic vinegar, try using a mix of red wine vinegar and sugar to achieve a similar effect.

Remember to think about the flavor profiles and acidity levels when choosing a vinegar substitute for your dish. By doing so, you’ll ensure your meal turns out both delicious and well-balanced.

Health Benefits And Impact Of Substitutes

Red wine vinegar is known for its numerous health benefits. When looking for a substitute, it’s essential to consider these properties to ensure you’re receiving similar benefits.

Lower cholesterol and weight loss: Many red wine vinegar substitutes, like balsamic vinegar, contain acetic acid. This compound can help lower cholesterol and support weight loss by increasing satiety, reducing insulin levels, and improving metabolism.

Antioxidant properties: Substitutes such as apple cider vinegar and balsamic vinegar contain natural antioxidants. These compounds help protect your body against free radicals, which can lead to cellular damage and aging.

Blood glucose control: Acetic acid in vinegar substitutes can contribute to regulating blood glucose levels. Apple cider vinegar, for example, can help prevent blood sugar spikes after meals, maintaining a stable level throughout the day.

When selecting a red wine vinegar substitute, keep these health benefits and impacts in mind to ensure you get the most out of your culinary experience.

Substitutes In Different Cuisines

In various cuisines, red wine vinegar substitutes may be necessary due to availability, cost, or personal taste preferences. Here are some alternatives with similar flavors and acidity levels that you can use in different types of dishes.

In European cuisine, particularly French and Italian cooking, raspberry vinegar is an excellent replacement for red wine vinegar. It has a fruity and slightly sweet taste that complements salad dressings, marinades, and sauces. Although it may be more expensive than red wine vinegar, its unique flavor profile is worth the investment.

For Asian cuisine, rice vinegar works well as a substitute for red wine vinegar. It is less acidic and has a milder taste, making it suitable for dipping sauces, pickling vegetables, and stir-fries. It is widely available and can be found at an affordable price in most grocery stores.

Another option for red wine vinegar substitution that works in a variety of cuisines is apple cider vinegar. Its acidity and fruitiness make it a versatile choice for salad dressings, marinades, and even some baking recipes. Apple cider vinegar is usually easy to find and budget-friendly.

Using other red wine substitutes such as grape juice or cranberry juice mixed with a small amount of vinegar or lemon juice can mimic the flavor and acidity of red wine vinegar. This option is delicious in dishes where the fruitiness can complement the flavors, such as dressings or fruity sauces.

Finally, if you’re feeling adventurous, consider fermenting your red wine vinegar substitute. By combining red wine or red grape juice with a vinegar starter, you can create your homemade vinegar. This process can be time-consuming but can result in a distinctive and flavorful addition to your favorite recipes.

In summary, there are several red wine vinegar substitutes suitable for different cuisines. By considering the specific dishes and desired flavor profiles, you can confidently choose a substitute that brings out the best in your culinary creations.

How to Make Your Own Substitutes At Home

Making your own red wine vinegar substitutes at home is a straightforward process. With a few simple ingredients and techniques, you can create alternatives that offer similar flavors and acidity. Below are a few options to consider:

  1. Grape juice mixture: Combine equal parts of grape juice and water to create a red wine vinegar substitute. This mixture maintains the fruitiness while diluting the sweetness of the juice. For a more acidic tang, you can also add a teaspoon of lemon juice.
  2. Cranberry juice: Replace red wine vinegar with an equal amount of cranberry juice in your recipe. Cranberry juice has a tart flavor that can mimic the acidity of red wine vinegar. However, it may slightly alter the taste of your dish due to its distinct flavor profile.
  3. Apple juice: Swap red wine vinegar with apple juice in a 1:1 ratio. Apple juice provides a milder, sweeter taste, making it a suitable replacement. To enhance the acidity, add a splash of lemon or lime juice.
  4. Citrus juice blend: Create a citrus-based red wine vinegar substitute by combining 1 part lemon juice, 1 part lime juice, and 2 parts water. This blend offers a similar acidity level while adding a zesty touch to your dish.

Remember to consider the flavors and acidity levels when choosing a red wine vinegar substitute. While these replacements may not be an exact match, they can provide your dish with a comparable taste character.


In your quest to find suitable red wine vinegar substitutes, you can confidently rely on the several options available. With your newfound knowledge, choosing an alternative comes down to matching the acidity and flavor profiles of red wine vinegar while keeping your recipe’s intended taste in mind.

Apple cider vinegar is a neutral and clear choice that mimics red wine vinegar’s acidity while adding a slightly fruity flavor. It works well in most recipes and is easily accessible in many stores.

Balsamic vinegar offers a more complex and robust flavor, making it an excellent choice for dressings and marinades. Despite being slightly sweeter, it provides the desired tanginess and depth of red wine vinegar.

Lemon or lime juice can be a simple substitute, especially if you’re looking for a more subtle flavor. Use these citrus juices in equal parts to the required red wine vinegar, and you’ll maintain the desired level of acidity.

When you’re not conscious about the alcohol content, red wine can be an option too. Just ensure you adjust the quantity to compensate for the stronger taste it can bring to your dish.

In essence, flexibility is key when substituting red wine vinegar in your recipes. Don’t be afraid to experiment, trust your palate, and use the alternatives as an opportunity to get creative with your culinary creations.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can be used as a replacement for red wine vinegar in salad dressings?

You can easily replace red wine vinegar in salad dressings with a variety of alternatives: apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, and white wine vinegar. Simply use an equal amount of the substitute as called for in the recipe.

How does white vinegar compare to red wine vinegar?

White vinegar has a sharper, more acidic taste compared to red wine vinegar. While red wine vinegar has a more complex flavor profile, white vinegar can be used as an alternative in recipes. However, you may want to adjust the quantity to avoid overpowering the dish.

What is a suitable alternative to red wine vinegar in chimichurri?

A good substitute for red wine vinegar in chimichurri sauce is white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar. They maintain the tanginess and acidity of chimichurri without changing the flavor significantly. Use an equal amount of your chosen substitute in place of the red wine vinegar.

What can I use instead of red wine vinegar in a beef stew recipe?

In a beef stew recipe, you can replace red wine vinegar with balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or even red wine itself. Each option adds a different level of acidity and depth to the stew. Use the same amount of the substitute as called for in the recipe, and adjust to taste as necessary.

Is rice vinegar a good substitute for red wine vinegar?

Yes, rice vinegar can be used as a substitute for red wine vinegar. It is milder and sweeter than red wine vinegar, making it suitable for dishes like stir-fries and sauces. When using rice vinegar as a substitute, you may need to adjust the quantity or add a little sugar to match the desired taste.

Can balsamic vinegar be used as a replacement for red wine vinegar?

Balsamic vinegar is a suitable replacement for red wine vinegar as both have a similar acidic profile. However, balsamic vinegar has a stronger, more robust flavor and can be sweeter. When using balsamic vinegar as a red wine vinegar substitute, you might want to start with a smaller amount and adjust the taste accordingly.

Homemade herb and spice red and white wine vinegars.

Red Wine Vinegar Substitutes: Best 7 Picks

These options are sure to be a hit. So, gather your family and friends and enjoy. Let us know your thoughts!
5 from 7 votes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Substitute
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 143 kcal


  • White wine vinegar: This is the closest substitute for red wine vinegar in terms of flavor and acidity. Use it in the same amount as the red wine vinegar called for in the recipe.
  • Apple cider vinegar: This vinegar has a slightly sweeter flavor than red wine vinegar so it may alter the taste of your recipe slightly. Use it in the same amount as the red wine vinegar called for in the recipe.
  • Rice vinegar: This vinegar has a milder flavor than red wine vinegar so you may need to use a bit more of it to achieve the same level of acidity. Use it in the same amount as the red wine vinegar called for in the recipe, and taste as you go to adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  • Balsamic vinegar: This vinegar is much sweeter than red wine vinegar so it may not be suitable for all recipes. Use it in a 1:1 ratio with red wine vinegar, but be prepared for a different flavor profile.
  • Lemon juice: If you don't have any vinegar on hand lemon juice can be a good substitute. Use it in the same amount as the red wine vinegar called for in the recipe, and taste as you go to adjust the seasoning if necessary.


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Calories: 143kcal
Keyword red wine vinegar substitutes
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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
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