What’s The Best Red Wine Substitute in Cooking and Drinking?

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Whether you’re looking at recipes to try making for your dinner or wanting a drink, red wine is the way to go.

Many, if not all of us, are familiar with this liqueur, while it’s the first they’ve heard of it for others.

If you’ve never heard of red wine, you’ve probably been living under a rock!

We’re kidding.

Here’s the serious question, though: What do you do when you’re out of red wine or need a non-alcoholic substitute?

Don’t panic!

We’re here with a list of the best substitutes for red wine.

Read on!

When Do Recipes Need Red Wine?

Thanks to its acidic and fruity taste, red wine can add acidity, sweetness, brightness, or depth of flavors to recipes. It can also tenderize meat, deglaze pans, and moisture dishes.

You can also use red wines in desserts if it has fruity tones.

It’s for poaching fruits, puddings, custards, truffles, sorbets, or cake batter.

You’ll most likely need red wine and preparing meat recipes or stews, as it goes well with beef and marinades.

You may also need red wine if you’re making vegetable stews and salad dressings.

Best Alcoholic and Non-Alcoholic Substitutes for Red Wine

One of the best red wine substitutes is red vinegar, but there are other ingredients you can find and use at home, such as:

1. Dry White Wine

If you have dry white wine in your liquor cabinet, we highly recommend using it to substitute red wine with! It has a similar flavor to red wine, and you get all the benefits of using wine for your recipes, such as the acidity, complexity, and depth it adds to your food.

However, you won’t get the deep, dark red color red wine would add to food. If you plan on using dry white wine, use equal amounts.

2. Cranberry Juice

Cranberries are naturally tart and sour in flavor, making them an excellent substitute. It adds a similar color to dishes as red wine and more acidity, doing an excellent job in giving dishes the same depth of flavor red wine does.

Plus, cranberry juice is loaded with antioxidants that help lower blood pressure and more, giving your dish health benefits! You can use an equal 1:1 ratio when substituting red wine with this juice.

Make sure you use unsweetened cranberry juice when your savory recipe calls for wine. You can use sweetened cranberry juice in desserts and cocktails, but you might have to adjust the amount of added sugar sources you use to prevent your dish or drink from being too sweet. 

3. Red Grape Juice

Red wine is made of red grapes, so the juice version is a good substitute, unsurprisingly. This juice gives your dishes the same color, consistency, and fruity flavor profile, just without the alcohol.

That said, note that the juice doesn’t go through the same fermentation process red wine does, so it won’t have the acidity and tart flavor red wine has. Furthermore, this juice is sweeter, so it’s best to add a dash of vinegar with your fruit juice to make it less sweet while adding flavor to the dish.

You can also use other kinds of fruit juices to add flavor to dishes, such as:

  • Pomegranate juice
  • Tomato juice
  • Apple juice
  • White grape juice

4. Lemon Juice

Lemon juice offers a sour flavor and is a vital ingredient in various recipes.

It can enhance flavors to give it a tangy taste, and it’s also an acidic liquid, helpful in tenderizing meat.

Lemon juice doesn’t have a similar color, but you can expect the taste to be a bit closer to red wine in cooking.

We recommend using lemon juice in salad dressings or marinades that call for red wine for the savory taste.

Since lemon juice has a stronger taste and slightly bitter flavor, use only half the recipe’s quantity. Add more if needed, taste-testing as you cook.

5. Red Wine Vinegar

Red wine vinegar comes from red wine, making it the best substitute for composition and flavor. This ingredient has acetic acid and water, boosting flavors in recipes the same way red wine does without changing any of your dish’s flavors.

In savory dishes like salad dressings, marinades, or other liquid-based recipes, you can use red wine vinegar (or even white wine vinegar).

It’s also great in meat and vegetable dishes or for deglazing pans.

That said, we recommend diluting vinegar with an equal amount of water before you add it to recipes, as it’s more acidic than red wine. Furthermore, red wine vinegar might contain traces of alcohol, so it’s not exactly one of the non-alcoholic substitutes for red wine.

6. Beef Stock

Beef stock (or beef broth) is your next best bet if you’re making a recipe that needs red wine for adding rich flavor to dishes.

It also adds a deep color to dishes, like what red wine would provide.

One can make homemade beef broth by simmering animal bones.

It gives extra flavor if your recipe calls for wine.

While you can use chicken or vegetable stock as a red wine substitute, we recommend beef stock since it’s less acidic.

Vegetable broths made of vegetable scraps are suitable to replace wine with if you’re vegan or vegetarian.

You may want to add one tablespoon of white vinegar for one cup of beef stock to help tenderize meat.

Red Wine Fun Facts

Red wine has such a long and fascinating history! If you want to learn more about this liqueur, check out these fun facts:

  • Red wine is made through fermenting juices of dark-skinned grapes. Winemakers allow pressed grape juice (must) to macerate, then ferment with dark grape skins. That unique production process will add tannin, color, and flavor to the wine. (*)
  • Red wine offers so many flavors, producing aromas of flowers, herbs, fruits, spices, and other earthy characteristics. You can also choose among many different kinds of wine, depending on the grapes and where it’s made from.
  • Georgia is considered to be the “cradle of wine.” Early Georgians discovered that they could turn the juice into wine by burying the juice underground for winter.
  • Chian is credited as the first red wine, though the Greeks called it “black wine.” Today, France is the best wine-producing country.

Frequently Asked Questions

We’re not stopping here!

Before you head to other parts of our blogs to learn more about cooking, check out these frequently asked questions about red wine and its substitutes.

1. What’s a good substitute for red wine in beef stew and bourguignon? 

The red wine substitute you need will depend on the dish you’re creating, flavor preference, and what you have in the kitchen.

For beef stews, we recommend using beef broth with a bit of red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar.

You can also use cherry, red grape, or cranberry juice, a good substitute for extra flavor.

As for bourguignon, you can also use beef broth or sugar-free cherry juice with a splash of red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar.

2. Can I use vinegar instead of red wine?

Yes, it’s possible to use vinegar as a red wine substitute, but not all kinds will work.

We recommend apple cider and red wine vinegar, as mentioned above.

Balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar can work as a red wine substitute, but it has a distinct and intense flavor. In general, vinegar is more acidic than regular wine, so you’ll need to dilute vinegar.

3. What’s a good substitute for red wine to drink? 

When you replace red wine for drinking, you can use low-sugar cherry or cranberry juice with a splash of lemon juice.

You can also opt for dry white wine as a red wine substitute if you want something alcoholic.

You can also drink other fruit juices to replace wine with apple juice, pomegranate juice, or white grape juice.

Wrapping It Up

Hopefully, you found the best red wine substitute based on our list. If you’ve tried any of these ingredients in your recipes, comment how it was below and give more of your recommendations!

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