Last Updated on November 26, 2023 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 Substitutes
1. White & Red Wine Vinegar
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
What can I substitute for red wine for heart health?
When seeking heart-healthy substitutes for red wine , fruit juices like red grape juice contain resveratrol, a compound linked to health benefits.
You can substitute red wine with pomegranate, apple, cranberry, and lemon juice, which provides antioxidants and may contribute positively to heart health .
What is a substitute for dry wine?
A bottle of white wine vinegar can serve as an effective substitute for dry wine in many recipes.
Like other red wine substitutes, white wine provides similar acidic and slightly tangy flavor profiles, making it a suitable alternative for cooking and deglazing in many recipes.
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.