White wine is a common ingredient in many Italian and French dishes and it's primarily used to bring out the flavor of other ingredients in the recipe.
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The wine is cooked until it begins to simmer and reduces down which burns off the alcohol.
White wine and any other wine for that matter helps break down protein structures and is also really effective in deglazing pans after searing meat on them.
Some popular dishes that include white wine that you may be familiar with are creamy chicken in a white wine sauce, chicken chasseur, and tarragon chicken.
If you’ve got a recipe that calls for white wine as an ingredient but you don’t have a bottle lying around your kitchen or just want to avoid putting any alcohol in altogether, then there are many quick and easy substitutions you swap in that you may have in your kitchen cupboards or refrigerator already.
White wine can add acidity, brightness, sugar, and also extra moisture to a dish so that it opens up doors for what can kind of substitutes we can use as it has so many versatile functions.
It’s important to bear in mind what kind of flavor you are looking to achieve with your dish, if you want it to be sweet then it’s best to use a sweet ingredient rather than a tangy one.
This article will bring you the best substitutions for white wine so you'll be able to adapt any recipes you’re cooking to whatever you have stored in your kitchen.
Substitutions for White Wine
If you’re just not a fan of white wine and bring the rich and bold flavors of red, then you can always substitute your favorite red wine to the recipe instead.
Red wine might alter the flavors in dishes slightly but it won’t ruin your dish.
Red wine is used to create some mouthwatering meat dishes and can bring out the juiciness of meats like duck or chicken.
If you’re unsure on whether red wine will be a suitable substitute for the recipe you are cooking, then you could look online to find out what kind of wines go best with whatever meat or vegetables you are cooking.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a good replacement for white wine in recipes. It’s quite sweet and also shares the same profile as wine, giving the right amount of depth and acidity to a recipe.
If your recipe requires white wine to be added, but you’re choosing to use apple cider vinegar instead, then you should try to use half the recommended amount in apple cider vinegar and the other half in water.
Adding too much apple cider vinegar to the recipe can make it extremely sour, so adding a little bit every so often will help you get the correct flavor.
Apple cider vinegar has some health benefits as well, not only is it non-alcoholic so great for your liver, but it also acts as a natural laxative and improves digestion. It can also help lower blood sugar levels and also contributes to weight loss.
Any sort of meat or vegetable broth should be an essential in every kitchen across the world. It’s so versatile and can take any boring dish to the next level with just a small amount.
The chicken broth is a lot less acidic and less mild in flavor than white wine but it will still add a good amount of depth to a recipe. If you still want to achieve that kick of tanginess, then you could always add a couple of tablespoons of vinegar to the broth mixture.
To replace white wine in a recipe with chicken broth, you’ll want to use an equal amount so you don’t alter the consistency of the recipe too much.
If the dish you’re cooking is already salty, then you should try and use a low-sodium or sodium-free chicken broth so it doesn’t overpower the entire dish.
You can buy chicken stock at any grocery store or online, or you could even simmer the leftover chicken bones in water to create your own broth. Alternatively, you could use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
If the recipe requires you to use a sweet white wine like Sauternes or Riesling then you can swap in apple juice to achieve the same sweetness that the wine brings to the recipe.
If you’d still like to have that tangy aftertaste that white wine can bring, then you could add a tablespoon or two of vinegar into the recipe whilst you cook.
Lemon juice is one of the better alternatives for deglazing your pan to get all the crusty meat bits from sticking on the surface.
Adding lemon juice to a dish in replacement of white wine will also replicate the tangy flavor that wine usually brings.
However, you’ll want to make sure you dilute the lemon juice with an equal amount of water to prevent it from being too strong in the recipe unless you’re looking to achieve a rich lemon flavor in your dish.
White Grape Juice
Considering white wine is made from predominantly grapes, you would hope that white grape juice would be a suitable replacement - well it is.
White grape juice is a whole lot sweeter than most white wines, so to lessen the sweetness you can add a few tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice to bring back that acidity.
Grape juice goes especially well paired with vinegar to marinate vegetables and meat to be cooked in the oven.
Grape juice also has some health benefits including giving you a boost of energy, improving the functioning of the brain, and also keeping bad toxins away from the body.
White Wine Vinegar
White wine vinegar is a great alternative if your recipe requires you to add in dry white wine. It has all the same flavors as white wine but because of the vinegar it is a lot more acidic, so you’ll want to use sparingly or dilute with water to a 1:1 ratio to tame the acidity levels.
This substitute is alcohol-free as well and you may already have it lying around in your cupboard. White wine vinegar can aid with weight management, help treat infections on the body, and also kill harmful bacteria.
Ginger ale may seem like a strange substitution to use in place of white wine, but it serves pretty well in its place. It has the same dry, sweet, and sometimes citrus flavor which can help replicate the taste of wine in a recipe.
The acidity of ginger ale makes it great for cooking meat as it keeps it nice and tender.
You’ll need to bear in mind whilst ginger ale does have similar flavors to white wine, it will also have a hint of ginger added to the recipe. You could try and counteract this ginger flavor by using extra seasoning or salt and pepper.
One of the healthiest substitutions you can make for white wine is water. Whilst it may seem boring, it will do the job of keeping the volume of liquid the correct measurement in your recipe so you achieve the right consistency.
Water should always be on hand to you, so if you don’t have any of the other ingredients on this list to substitute white wine with, then you can add water instead and just make sure you season the recipe very well as water will not bring any flavor to the dish.
You can also add vinegar or lemon juice to the water to replicate the acidity of white wine, and adding bay leaves or parsley will enhance the flavor of the water so it doesn’t taste bland.
If you happen to have some dry vermouth in your cupboards, then you can whip it out and use it in your recipes in replacement for white wine.
A little goes a long way, so if you find the need to purchase a bottle as a substitute for a recipe, then you’ll be able to make it last for ages.
Dry vermouth is a lot stronger than white wine, so you’ll want to use a small amount first and then taste the dish as you go until you feel you have perfected the flavor.
Dry vermouth goes great with chicken recipes and is also a wonderful addition to use in pasta sauces.
Canned Mushroom Liquid
Canned mushroom liquid is ideal for using as a substitute for white wine as you can also use the mushrooms from the can in your recipe, so it's a win-win. The liquid normally absorbs a lot of the flavor of the mushrooms and will contribute a savory taste to most recipes.
If the recipe requires you to produce a sweet flavoring, then you can also add a small amount of grape juice as well as the canned mushroom liquid to create more depth.
Canned mushrooms are pretty easy to get hold of and can be found in nearly all grocery stores. They’re also handy for keeping stored in the cupboard as you’ll not only have ready-to-go mushrooms but also a liquid that can substitute for dry white wine in recipes.
Beer is also a good substitute for white wine. There are also lots of different flavors and profiles of beers, so it adds more diversity to recipes than white wine will.
Beer will also need to be reduced down when cooking to concentrate the flavors.
Beer can be used to create creamy beer cheese sauce to drench your green vegetables in or a hearty creamy sauce for your steak.
You’ll find you won’t need a whole bottle or can of beer to achieve a strong flavor, so you can always use the rest to drink with your dish.
Frequently Asked Questions
When a recipe calls for white wine?
There are several reasons for a recipe to call for white wine or something very similar.
As we discussed earlier, white wine can add acidity, brightness, sugar, and also extra moisture to the dish you want to create.
So that sounds like it’s asking a lot of the ingredient, and you may at first think that it’s a difficult ingredient to substitute, but it turns out that there are several items you can use in its place.
But before we go into potential substitutions, let’s talk about what wines you can use in your recipes. It all depends on what sort of flavors you like and what effect you want the wine to achieve in your cooking…
For example, if you want the dish to be sweet, then go for a sweet white wine or substitute. Likewise, if you want a tangy end result, then go for a tangy white wine.
As we discussed earlier in the article potential substitutes for white wine include: Red Wine, Apple Cider Vinegar, Chicken Broth, Apple Juice, Lemon Juice, White Grape Juice, White Wine Vinegar, Ginger Ale, Water, Dry Vermouth, Canned Mushroom Liquid, and Beer.
Once you’ve decided what substitute you want to use, please scroll back up to see how exactly to substitute it.
Can you use water instead of white wine?
One thing we learned when looking into substitutes for white wine that we were very pleased to hear about, is that you can substitute plain ordinary, very readily available, water.
And better yet it also happens to be one of the healthiest substitutes that you can possibly use.
Sure it may sound a little boring, but it does the job of keeping the volume of liquid in the correct measurement in your recipe, so you achieve the right consistency.
And if while tasting your cooking as you go along you feel like it needs more flavor, then you can go ahead and add any seasoning you like.
And if you want to replicate the acidity of white wine, you can also add a little vinegar or lemon juice to the water.
What can I use as a substitute for white wine in shrimp scampi?
Our top recommendation of substitutes for white wine in shrimp scampi is chicken broth or water.
If you prefer however, you can try to make your very own shrimp stock. Here’s how…
Instead of throwing away your shrimp shells, let them simmer in water in the microwave for a couple of minutes. Then strain the water and discard the shells. The shrimp shells make for wonderful flavor enhancers.
You can substitute chicken broth, shrimp stock or water for the white wine in a 1:1 ratio.