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Red Wine Vinegar Substitutes: 7 Options For Your Daily Cooking

Red wine vinegar is considered a staple ingredient in a wide variety of recipes, including marinades, salad dressings, reductions, soups, and gazpachos. 

When you’re running out or low on the ingredient and can’t make a trip to the grocery store, you should have alternative solutions—SUBSTITUTES!

Have you ever wondered what possible replacements for red wine vinegar are? 

Fortunately, white wine vinegar, rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, champagne vinegar, and balsamic vinegar can all be substituted for red wine vinegar. 

Bear in mind that every vinegar variety has its own unique flavor profile, but in a pinch, some of these options may work in small amounts! 

Heard of Malt Vinegar (hello, boardwalk french fries!)?

What is red wine vinegar?

As its name implies, red wine vinegar is made from red wine, which undergoes fermentation. 

The ingredient is commonly used in Mediterranean cooking and quite famous for its sharp and tangy undertones.

It is perfect for bringing complex flavor to your marinades, pickling solutions, vinaigrettes, soups, and even meat dishes. 

Depending on the hue and age of the grape, the color of red wine vinegar ranges from dark red to subtle pink.

In some recipes, you’ll note that the robust color comes through, also. (If you’ve ever added red wine or red wine vinegar to a cream sauce, you’ll know what I mean.)

Red wine vinegar gives a dark-red to subtle pink hue to your recipes, so it’s generally ideal for stews, soups, and making a marinade for red meat. 

So if you don’t want your light colored salad dressing to turn purple, you may want to use a distilled white vinegar (which is technically clear and colorless).

What does red wine vinegar taste like

Red wine vinegar tastes like vinegar first (tangy, sharp, sour, and bitter), and wine second. 

So you get a hint of a dry red wine only as an aftertaste. In some brands and types, it’s subtle and in others, it’s sharp.

Red wine vinegar is not alcoholic and won’t make you drunk, even though it’s fermented, like wine.

How red wine vinegar is made

According to healthline.com, red wine vinegar is made by fermenting red wine. 

Once the red wine or alcohol is acidified for a couple of months, it’s ready to be strained and bottled. 

If you prefer making your own rather than purchasing one at the grocery store, stir together an equal amount of red wine and distilled white vinegar, then let the mixture store in a jar undisturbed in a dark place at room temperature for about two months.

Red wine vinegar substitutes and how to use them

1. White wine vinegar

This vinegar is made by fermenting white wine, probably one of the best red wine vinegar alternatives you can find in the market. 

White wine vinegar is not the same as just plain distilled white vinegar.

White wine vinegar is a little mellower than red wine vinegar but it has this nice tangy undertone, making it a good substitute for red wine vinegar.

How to use it: 

You may use white vinegar as a 1:1 replacement for red wine vinegar.

2. Sherry vinegar

Sherry vinegar is also made from wine, just its cousins, the red and white wine vinegar. It has a balance of sweet and sour taste but not as overpowering as the red wine vinegar. 

This vinegar can help brighten your vegetable soups, marinades, vinaigrette, or you can even lend its bright tang to your roasted meat, fish, and vegetables. 

How to use it: 

You can use the same amount of sherry vinegar as the amount of red wine vinegar called for in your recipe. 

Add more if necessary to imitate the bolder flavor profile of the red wine vinegar.

3. Balsamic vinegar

Balsamic vinegar is made from grape must.

The fresh grape juice (typically Lambrusco or Trebbiano grapes) is then fermented and aged in wooden barrels until it’s concentrated and becomes a very dark color. 

And because of its different depth of flavor that is both sweet and tangy, this red wine vinegar replacement is best used for dressing a salad, pizza, crostini, or as an essential ingredient for your marinades. It also features undertones of fig, molasses, and cherry. 

How to use it: 

But compared to red wine vinegar, balsamic is darker, sweeter, and thicker. 

Dilute balsamic vinegar with white vinegar or newly uncorked red or white wine 1:1 to use as a substitute for red wine vinegar. 

So if you need 1 T of red wine vinegar, mix 2 t balsamic vinegar with 1 t of dry red or white wine for your recipe.

4. Champagne vinegar

Another red wine vinegar substitute you need to have in your pantry is champagne vinegar. 

According to masterclass.com, this type of vinegar is usually made from Chardonnay and pinot noir grapes produced through fermentation.

It’s slightly sweet and less harsh than red wine vinegar, but this variety is still ideal for dressings and marinades. 

Champagne vinegar can also give your tomato sauce or hollandaise that special kick. 

Try our recipe for Champagne Vinaigrette!

How to use it: 

Because it’s so mild in flavor with a sweet finish, use one (1) tablespoon of champagne vinegar in place of red wine vinegar. 

You may want to add white vinegar to the mix to add more tang.

5. White vinegar

White vinegar is one of the best replacements for red wine vinegar because it’s inexpensive, easy to find, and has a fresh and tangy bite. 

It brings a bright flavor to salads, pickled vegetables, sauces, soups, and marinades.

White vinegar, which is different from white WINE vinegar, is made from a grain alcohol similar to vodka.

How to use it: 

To use white vinegar instead of red wine vinegar in your salad, use them in a ratio of 1:1. 

So, if the recipe calls for one (1) tablespoon of white vinegar, you can alternatively use one (1) tablespoon of red wine vinegar.

6. Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is notable for its zesty flavor and brownish-gold color. 

It’s made from fermented apples and has an excellent reputation for giving an acidic bite to steak marinades, tomato-based sauces, homemade soups, pickled vegetables, and salads. 

How to use it: 

Apple cider vinegar is milder and fruitier than red wine vinegar, but it’s a great alternative when you’re running out of the ingredient. Substitute apple cider vinegar in a 1:1 ratio in any recipe that calls for red wine vinegar.

7. White vinegar + red wine

The best substitute for red wine vinegar is to make your own red wine vinegar version at home. 

But to do that, you need two ingredients—red wine and plain white vinegar!

How to use it: 

When using it as a substitute, combine an equal amount of red wine and regular white vinegar, then use the 1:1 ratio in any recipe that calls for red wine vinegar. 

The bottom line

While this is an article full of vinegars, note that if you only need a teaspoon of an acid to work your recipe magic, a bit of citrus may help. You can make buttermilk for example with either white vinegar or lemon juice. 

If you need to cut sweetness, a shot of lime juice may do the trick. 

Keep in mind that vinegar or citrus (or any acid) may overpower a bland or mild base, so add to your dish sparingly and keep taste-testing.

If you overshot the runway, so to speak, and added too much vinegar, try a 1:1 measure of table sugar in your recipe.

Imagine the chaos if you’re running out of red wine vinegar, and you’ll end up with an incomplete ingredient list for your desired dish. I say, don’t give up on that recipe! 

The good news is many red wine vinegar alternatives out there are waiting for you to be unlocked. If you’re uncertain, then create your own DIY version of the red wine vinegar! 

Here’s a DIY vinegar recipe from Williams-Sonoma!

Red Wine Vinegar Substitute

Red Wine Vinegar Substitute

Running out of red wine vinegar? Use apple cider vinegar instead to bring bright flavors to salads, sauces, soups, and marinades!

Ingredients

  • Apple cider vinegar

Instructions

  1. Substitute apple cider vinegar in a 1:1 ratio in any recipe that calls for red wine vinegar.

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