Red wine vinegar is a staple in most pantries. With a distinctive tangy taste, it’s the perfect ingredient for adding zest to different dishes like salads, marinades, and vinaigrettes.
For times when red wine vinegar isn’t available, other types of vinegar make good substitutes. The best substitutes will have a robust flavor profile, adding tangy and smoky notes to the dish.
Best Red Wine Vinegar Substitute: White Wine Vinegar
The best substitute for red wine vinegar is white wine vinegar. White wine vinegar has a similar character and flavor, with a lighter body and less aggressive notes. It brings a familiar acidity to each dish.
White wine vinegar can be used as a 1:1 substitute in any recipe that calls for red wine vinegar. Red wine can be added to white wine vinegar to amp up the flavor, achieve a fuller body, and darken the color — but it’s not necessary.
Other Red Wine Vinegar Substitutes, Alternatives, and Replacements
Red wine vinegar has many valuable uses, particularly as a salad dressing, in sauces, as part of a marinade, or for pickling vegetables.
This section will cover a list of foods that can be used in place of red wine vinegar.
Compared to red wine vinegar, sherry vinegar has a more rounded flavor profile, with a medium body and nut-forward taste.
Depending on where the sherry is produced, sherry vinegar can have a smoky profile similar to red wine vinegar.
Sherry vinegar is also used in a similar fashion, brightening up the flavor of roasted meats and vegetables and adding a touch of sweetness.
A little extra sherry vinegar is required to replicate the bold acidity of red wine vinegar. Start with a 1:1 substitute and add more to taste.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is fruit-forward, packing a more potent flavor than red wine vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar is also tart with a distinct sweetness that makes it suitable only for certain recipes.
Apple cider vinegar is best used as a substitute for red wine vinegar in dressings, vinaigrettes, and pickling. Avoid using apple cider vinegar in savory dishes.
Because apple cider vinegar is sweeter, start by using only half the amount of red wine vinegar the recipe calls for. Too much apple cider vinegar can overpower other flavors, especially if they’re also on the sweeter side.
Offering a rich, oaky flavor with an overt sweetness and balanced acidity, balsamic vinegar is a versatile ingredient in the kitchen.
It’s made from grapes, and the flavor concentrates with age.
Balsamic vinegar is best used in place of red wine vinegar in recipes that call for a touch of sweetness. It can be used as a standalone salad dressing or to enhance marinades for meat.
The quality and sweetness are unique to each brand of balsamic vinegar, so judge the quantity accordingly.
Start off by substituting balsamic vinegar at half the amount of red wine vinegar the recipe calls for.
Champagne vinegar is another wine-based vinegar. It’s lighter and sweeter than others of its kind, making it a nice complement to herbs and spices.
Champagne vinegar is commonly used in sauces like hollandaise and mayonnaise, as well as for sautéing vegetables or as a dipping sauce with bread.
Use Champagne vinegar as a substitute for red wine vinegar in tomato sauces, salad dressings, marinades, and pickling.
Start with a 1:1 substitution, but a little more is usually required to match the boldness of red wine vinegar.
Rice vinegar is a staple in Asian cuisine, with a sweet flavor that’s perfect for stir fry, pickled vegetables, and fish dishes.
It’s less acidic than red wine vinegar but has a similar tanginess.
Use a 2:1 ratio of rice vinegar to red wine vinegar, to make up for rice vinegar’s lack of acidity.
The first non-vinegar substitute on the list, tamarind paste is often described as sweet, sour, tangy, and tart depending on the recipe it’s used in.
Tamarind paste delivers the same bold flavor as red wine vinegar, but it is a paste, so its uses are limited.
Keep this ingredient in the pantry to use for marinating meat, poultry, and seafood.
The concentration of flavor in tamarind paste may vary depending on the brand used.
Start with an amount smaller than the amount of red wine vinegar called for, and then adjust according to preference.
Citrus fruits like lemons and limes can replace the acidity that red wine vinegar brings to certain recipes.
Keep in mind, citrus and red wine vinegar don’t have a similar flavor profile at all. If red wine vinegar is supposed to be the dominant flavor, avoid using citrus juices as a substitute.
Red wine might seem like an obvious substitution, but it’s only good for flavor — not acidity.
To add acidity and match the flavor profile of red wine vinegar, blend red wine 50/50 with white vinegar. Then nobody will know it’s not the real thing.
Use the blend as a 1:1 substitute in any recipe that calls for red wine vinegar.