Liquor Laboratory

10 Best Red Wine Alternatives For Cooking (2024)

Red Wine Alternatives

Last Updated on June 12, 2024 by Lydia Martin

Red wine adds a special tanginess and depth to your cooking, whether deglazing a pan or creating a savory sauce. 

But if you don’t have red wine, don’t panic because you can still make your dishes delicious without red wine. 

Whether you’re cutting down on some alcohol or want some red wine alternatives, here are tried-and-tested alternatives to confidently continue cooking and enjoying delicious meals without missing a beat.

Top 10 Red Wine Alternatives

1. White & Red Wine Vinegar

Woman Holding Bottle of Pompeian Red Wine Vinegar: Red Wine Alternatives

Whenever I run out of a bottle of red wine in cooking Mediterranean dishes, red and white wine vinegar are my go-to red wine substitutes. These kinds of vinegar have flavors reminiscent of wine but won’t significantly alter the taste of your dish.

“When it comes to cooking, red wine substitutes are the chameleons that adapt and enhance the flavor tapestry of your dishes.” -Liquor Laboratory

White and red wine vinegar is often made from wine but can also be derived from sources like apple cider, coconut water, malt, or rice.

Since white and red wine vinegar tends to be more acidic than regular wine, I dilute red wine vinegar in an equal amount (1:1 ratio) of water before adding it to my recipes. 

2. Pomegranate Juice

Glasses of Pomegranate Juice

Aside from red wine vinegar, pomegranate juice is a beverage bursting with a luscious, fruity flavor, making it a great red wine substitute.

Furthermore, pomegranate juice possesses a pleasing acidity that elevates the taste of various dishes. Its flavor, fragrance, and acidity closely resemble that of red wine in cooking your favorite recipe.

As pomegranate juice is less acidic than red wine, I add a tablespoon of vinegar to enhance the flavor and tenderize meat.

3. Tomato Juice

Tomato Juice in Can

Tomato juice offers a tangy and slightly bitter taste, frequently used to enhance the flavors of various recipes.

When you need a red wine substitute in your cooking, it can step up to the plate thanks to its similar flavor, acidity, and color.

Depending on your desired flavor profile, it can substitute red wine at 1:1 liquid ratios. Beyond its culinary versatility, tomato juice boasts impressive health benefits. 

4. Red or White Grape Juice

White and red grape juice offers a rich and flavorful profile similar to a bottle of red wine.

If the recipe calls for a bottle of red wine and you don’t have any, it can be the best substitute (use an equal amount) because it resembles wine in flavor and color.

However, since it may contain added sugar, I usually add a touch of vinegar to reduce sweetness and enhance acidity. 

This combination increases tartness and creates a fantastic marinade for meat and vegetables.

5. Cranberry Juice

Glass of Cranberry Juice

Cranberry juice, precisely the 100% pure variety with no added sugar, is one of the fantastic options for red wine substitutes. 

I did beef stew once and used cranberry juice instead of grabbing a bottle of red wine, and I noticed that it shares a similar color, rich flavor, and acidity that enhanced my recipes. 

You can seamlessly replace red wine with it at a 1:1 ratio. Also, consider blending it with a tablespoon or two of vinegar before incorporating it into your recipes.

6. Liquid From Canned Mushrooms

Person Pouring Liquid from Canned Mushrooms

The liquid that comes with canned mushrooms is a valuable ingredient infused with the mushroom’s flavors.

An ingenious way to utilize this liquid is as a non-alcoholic substitute for a bottle of red wine in your cooking savory dishes.

However, if your culinary creation calls for sweetness, you can blend the canned mushroom liquid with fruit juice to achieve the desired flavor.

7. Dry White Wine

Hand Holding Glass of Dry White Wine

Depending on your culinary goals, dry white wine can substitute for red wine in various recipes. 

While it won’t replicate the depth and richness of red wine, dry white wine offers a different flavor characterized by its lightness, crispness, and subtle fruity notes. 

It is a great red wine substitute when cooking dishes where color isn’t a critical factor or a key ingredient, such as pork, seafood, or cream-based sauces. 

8. Chicken, Beef or Vegetable Stock

Person Making Chicken Stock

If you’re seeking to add extra flavor or need a red wine substitute, don’t worry— vegetable or beef stock can step in. 

Chicken or beef broth won’t replicate the acidity and warmth that the wine provides in your recipes; they bring an abundance of added flavor that’s truly delightful, plus they don’t contain alcohol. 

Moreso, beef broth or chicken stock may not deliver the fruity notes of wine, but they offer delicious flavor and serve the same purposes, whether adding moisture or deglazing a pan.

9. Ginger Ale

Homemade Ginger Ale on a Jar

Ginger ale can be an interesting red wine substitute in a certain recipe. For instance, ginger ale can be used in braises, stews, or glazes to add depth and a touch of sweetness to a recipe.

It offers a slightly sweet, effervescent quality with a hint of ginger notes, which can work well in dishes where the fruity and aromatic notes of red wines are not crucial.

10.  Water

Glass of Water

When you use water, you won’t replicate the complexities or the depth that wine imparts to cooking and following a recipe.

However, it can be a suitable option when you need a liquid for deglazing a pan or adding moisture to a recipe without introducing any additional taste.

“I cook with wine; sometimes I even add it to the food.” – W.C. Fields, Comedian & Actor

Water is particularly useful in cooking where the primary focus in the recipe is on the other ingredients, and the contribution of wine is minimal.

Note: Each red wine alternative was evaluated on its overall quality, flavor profile, complexity, and effectivity as an alternative.

FAQs Related to Red Wine Alternatives

What are red wine alternatives?

Red wine alternatives are non-red wine options that offer similar characteristics in terms of flavor, body, and complexity. These alternatives are suitable for individuals who prefer different types of wine or have dietary restrictions.

What are some common red wine alternatives?

Common red wine alternatives include rosé wine, white wine, sparkling wine (such as Champagne or Prosecco), fruit wines (like cherry or blackberry wine), and non-alcoholic options like grape juice or non-alcoholic red wine.

Can rosé wine be considered a red wine alternative?

Yes, rosé wine can be considered a red wine alternative as it shares some characteristics with red wine, such as fruitiness and body, while also offering the crispness and acidity of white wine.

How do white wines compare to red wines as alternatives?

White wines offer a different flavor profile compared to red wines, typically showcasing lighter, crisper, and more refreshing characteristics. While they may not provide the same depth and richness as red wines, they can serve as suitable alternatives, especially in warmer weather or with lighter meals.

Are sparkling wines suitable substitutes for red wines?

Sparkling wines can be suitable substitutes for red wines, particularly in celebratory settings or as aperitifs. They offer a wide range of styles, from dry to sweet, and can provide complexity and effervescence that complements various dishes and occasions.

Can fruit wines be used as alternatives to red wines?

Fruit wines, such as cherry or blackberry wine, can serve as alternatives to red wines, especially for individuals seeking unique flavor profiles or those with dietary restrictions. They offer fruity and sometimes sweet characteristics that differ from traditional grape-based red wines.

In Summary

Exploring red wine substitutes can open up a world of culinary possibilities. You can choose non-alcoholic options like grape, cranberry, or apple juice. 

However, if you prefer the tangy acidity and color, red wine or white wine vinegar stands out and offers a unique twist when cooking your favorite recipes in the slow cooker. 

Dry white wine can also be a good replacement for red wine in many recipes. In addition, canned mushroom liquid, vegetable broth, and chicken broth add a savory depth to recipes. 


  1. Red Wine
  2. What are the Health and Nutritional Benefits of Pomegranate?
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