Red wine is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented dark-colored red, purple, and bluish grape juice. The taste, use, and color of red wine varies depending on the type or body of the wine.
There are a few uses for red wine. One of the most popular uses is drinking red wine at dinner or social gatherings. In the kitchen, light-bodied and medium-bodied red wines are used to add flavor and moisture to savory dishes and desserts. Red wine also makes a great cleaner to deglaze a pan or tenderize red meat.
Several stocks and broths, fruit juices, and even water make suitable cooking substitutes for red wine. Many of these hit the same flavor profile as red wine in terms of flavor, while others are great for tenderizing meat or deglazing a pan.
Best Red Wine Substitute: Red Grape Juice
The best substitute for red wine is red grape juice. Its color is nearly identical to red wine and its deep berry and fruit flavors are reminiscent of red wine’s flavor profile.
Red grape juice is sweeter than red wine. Increase the juice’s tartness and acidity to better match that of red wine by adding 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar for every cup of red grape juice.
Use red grape juice mixed with white wine vinegar in desserts, sauces, marinades, and to tenderize meat. It also makes a great deglazer for pans.
Use red grape juice in a 1:1 ratio in recipes that call for red wine. For example, if the recipe calls for half a cup of red wine, substitute with half a cup of red grape juice.
Other Red Wine Substitutes, Alternatives, and Replacements
Here are other red wine substitutes that make great replacements for red wine.
Red Wine Vinegar
Red wine vinegar is made from red wine that’s been fermented. Red wine vinegar is more acidic and bitter than red wine.
Mix one part water with one part red wine vinegar (ratio of 1:1) to substitute red wine.
Red wine vinegar is best suited for hearty dishes where vegetables and beef or pork are the heroes.
Dry White Wine
Dry white wine is a crispy white wine that has no residual sugar (the grape sugar is fermented for longer, so the wine has a low amount or no residual sugar, resulting in a dryer and more acidic wine). Examples of dry whites that make good red wine substitutes are Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Gruner Veltliner, Chardonnay, Cheninc Blanc, and Pinot Gris.
The flavor profile of dry white wine is similar to red wine, but the rich red wine color is missing.
Use the same quantity of dry white wine to red wine in any recipe (ratio of 1:1).
Cranberry juice is made from crushed, juiced cranberries. Use 100% unsweetened cranberry juice in a 1:1 ratio as a red wine substitute.
Add some white vinegar to the cranberry juice to cut down the sweetness and increase acidity, especially when tenderizing meat.
Cranberry juice works well in sauces and marinades that accompany meat dishes, salad dressings, and desserts.
Pomegranate juice is made from crushed pomegranate seeds. Pomegranate juice has the same rich and fruity flavor, acidity, and aroma as red wine. Increase the acidity level to tenderize meat by adding 1 tablespoon of white vinegar with 1 cup of pomegranate juice.
Use 100% pomegranate juice in a 1:1 ratio as a red wine substitute in salad dressings, sauces, or as a vegetable glaze.
Cherry juice is made from crushing cherries. Cherry juice is similar to cranberry or red grape juice in flavor, color, and acidity, making it a good red wine substitute.
Use the same amount of cherry juice as red wine (1:1 ratio) in salad dressings, beef bourguignon, oxtail recipes, marinades, and desserts.
Raspberry juice is made from juicing raspberries. The acidity level and color of raspberry juice is similar to red wine. Use raspberry juice with a teaspoon of red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar to create a near-identical replacement for their fermented grape cousin, red wine.
Raspberry juice is a good red wine substitute in glazes, sauces, salad dressings, stews, soups, and desserts. Use raspberry juice with extra vinegar to deglaze a pan.
Apple juice is made by juicing apples. While apple juice doesn’t match the color of red wine, it does fit the wine’s tanginess. Add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar to the apple juice to increase its acidity. Use apple juice in salad dressings, marinades, and dessert recipes that call for a small amount of red wine.
Substitute the same amount of apple juice to red wine (ratio of 1:1).
Tomato juice is made from crushed tomatoes. Tomato juice is a good red wine substitute because it is similar in color and acidity, but it is more bitter than red wine.
Use the same amount of tomato juice in your recipe as an alternative to red wine (ratio of 1:1). Or, use one part tomato juice and one part cranberry, red grape, or pomegranate juice to sweeten the tomato juice.
Tomato juice is a good substitute for red wine in sauce recipes or those with marinated meat.
Lemon juice is made by juicing lemons. Lemon juice is a good substitute for red wine in dishes that are complemented by red wine’s acidity.
Use lemon juice in place of red wine in sauces and marinades. Combine 1 cup of red grape, cranberry, cherry, or pomegranate juice, and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice as a replacement in recipes calling for a large amount of red wine.
Use a 1:2 ratio when substituting lemon juice for red wine. For example, use 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to replace 2 tablespoons of red wine.
Beef Broth or Stock
Broth, also known as bouillon, and stock are savory soups or liquids that’ve been infused with meat, chicken, or vegetables. Beef broth or stock is the best substitute for red wine in red meat dishes because the beef broth adds the depth of flavor and color that the recipe calls for.
Use broth or stock in a 1:1 ratio as a red wine substitute. To tenderize meat, add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar to the broth for that extra acidic touch.
Make beef broth at home using this recipe:
- 4 pounds of meat (short ribs or beef shanks)
- 3 medium carrots
- 3 celery ribs
- ½ cup water
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 medium white onions
- 3 teaspoons spices (Italian mix, or combination of thyme, marjoram, and oregano)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 450℉, and bake the meat in a baking tray for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, add the vegetables to the baking tray and bake for another 30 minutes. Then, place all the ingredients in a dutch oven or crockpot on the stove.
- Bring the meat and vegetables to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer, and leave for three to four hours.
- Finally, strain the well-cooked meat and vegetables through a teatowel-lined fine mesh strainer, letting the liquids fill a large bowl. Save the meat and vegetables for another use. The meat- and vegetable-infused liquid is the broth that can be used as a substitute for red wine.
Alternatively, buy premade beef broth or stock from nearly any local grocer.
Water doesn’t contribute flavor, acidity, or color to recipes that call for red wine, but it does add liquid to food to prevent drying.
Add some flavor to the water by mixing 1 tablespoon of white sugar, ¼ cup of water, and ¼ cup of red wine vinegar.
Canned Mushroom Liquid
The canned mushroom liquid is the canning liquid (water and citric acid) that’s infused with the mushrooms in the can. If a recipe uses red wine to enhance the savory flavor of the dish, use canned mushroom liquid as-is.
Use one part canned mushroom liquid and one part cranberry, red grape, or pomegranate juice to substitute red wine in recipes that need a sweeter and richer flavor.
The canned mushroom liquid is a good red wine alternative when deglazing pans or roasting meats and vegetables. Use canned mushroom liquid in soups, stews, and sauces too.
Black Tea, Vinegar, and Tomato Puree
Medium-strong black tea, vinegar, and tomato puree match the tannins found in red wine. This alternative is also similar in color and flavor richness to red wine.
If a recipe calls for ½ cup of red wine, use ½ cup mix of black tea, vinegar, and tomato puree. This red wine alternative works well in pot roast recipes.
Follow these steps to make a black tea, vinegar, and tomato puree substitute for red wine.
- 4 ounces water
- 1 black tea bag
- 1 tablespoon distilled white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon tomato puree
Brew the black tea in the water until it reaches medium strength. Remove the teabag. Add the white wine vinegar and tomato puree and mix thoroughly.