Red wine vinegar is one of the most popular vinegars. You may come across it in the ingredient list of salad dressings, sauces, marinades, etc. But what can you use instead of red wine vinegar if you don’t have it at home?
What are the best substitutes for red wine vinegar? If the red wine flavor is not essential to the dish, you can choose between apple cider, white wine, rice, balsamic, and champagne vinegars as a substitute for red wine vinegar. Lemon or lime juice, as well as tamarind paste will work well as a red wine vinegar alternative in salad dressings and meat marinades.
Continue reading to learn more about the best red wine vinegar substitutes and how to use them. In this article, you will also learn how to make a homemade red wine vinegar substitute and whether you can use red wine instead of red wine vinegar.
The Best Substitutes for Red Wine Vinegar
Red wine vinegar is an everyday staple ingredient for many cooks. It is ideal to use for salad dressings, vinaigrettes, and sauces. It is also used in pickles and cooking meat, chicken, and vegetables.
Being made with red wine, red wine vinegar has fruity notes. It is tangy but still not harsh when used in the right amount.
If you don’t have red wine vinegar at home, there are multiple substitutes for it. Here are the best ones.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is one of those substitutes for red wine vinegar that can be found in almost every fridge.
The flavor of apple cider vinegar is not similar to red wine vinegar. However, it also has fruity notes and can substitute red wine vinegar in salad dressings
How to use: When using apple cider vinegar instead of red wine vinegar, start with a smaller amount. A measure for measure substitution will result in a harsher taste.
Substitute 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar with 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.
If the red wine taste is essential to the recipe, you can add a splash of red wine to the dish or dressing.
2. White Wine Vinegar
Looking for the closest substitute for red wine vinegar? Go with white wine vinegar.
If you ask people to detect whether it is red or white wine vinegar used in the dish, many won’t be able to get it right. This is because the differences between red and white wine vinegars are most pronounced if you taste them on their own and not in a dish. The flavor of red wine vinegar is only slightly more intense.
White wine vinegar is perfect for salad dressings, marinades, and pickles. It is also widely used in cooking meats and seafood.
How to use: Use one part of white wine vinegar instead of one part of red wine vinegar.
3. Rice Vinegar
While red wine vinegar is considered to be moderately tangy, some people may look for less tangy alternatives. If you are one of them, consider swapping red wine vinegar with rice vinegar.
Rice vinegar is more delicate and its tanginess is not as intense.
Rice vinegar is widely used in stir-fries, as well as salad dressings and marinades.
How to use: It is easy to substitute red wine vinegar with rice vinegar. This is a 1:1 substitution for those using rice vinegar for its milder flavor. But if you want it to be intense, you can add a tablespoon or two more.
4. Balsamic Vinegar
Many people enjoy using balsamic vinegar in salads, pasta, and meat dishes. If you are one of these people that consider balsamic vinegar a kitchen staple and keep it always at hand, feel free to use it in dishes where red wine vinegar is needed.
The taste of balsamic vinegar is different from the fruity and delicate taste of red wine vinegar. While balsamic vinegar tastes mild, it is also quite sweet.
How to use: Use balsamic vinegar instead of red wine vinegar in salad dressings or dishes where the wine flavor is not essential and the sweetness of balsamic will not break the balance.
Be mindful of the sweetness of balsamic vinegar and use it in moderation to avoid ending up with overly sweet dishes. We recommend starting with a small amount and adding more if needed.
5. Champagne Vinegar
For sauces and vinaigrettes, red wine vinegar can be substituted with champagne vinegar.
Made through a fermentation process of champagne, this vinegar had a lighter flavor compared to other vinegar varieties. Champagne vinegar is tangy but still bright and mellow.
It is best to use champagne vinegar in dishes that don’t require cooking with heat. However, it should be noted that this vinegar also works well for deglazing pans.
How to use: Substitute a tablespoon of red wine vinegar with 1.5 tablespoons of champagne vinegar.
6. Lemon/Lime Juice
Lemon juice is a great substitute for any vinegar, and red wine vinegar is not an exception. However, it should be noted that lemon juice works well in place of red wine vinegar if the wine taste is not essential to the dish.
Lemon juice is most suitable to be used in dishes where the required amount of red wine vinegar is small. It can be used in salad dressings and as a meat tenderizer.
You can use freshly squeezed lemon juice or buy a bottle of 100% natural lemon juice. The choice is yours. Lime juice will also work if you don’t have lemons at hand.
How to use: Use a smaller amount of lemon juice than the recipe calls for red wine vinegar. As lemon juice is highly acidic and sour, it can overpower other flavors in the dish.
7. Tamarind Paste
Popular in Asian and Middle Eastern cooking, this ingredient is a good substitute for red wine vinegar thanks to its acidity.
Made from the fruits of the tamarind tree, this paste is widely used in curries, seafood and meat dishes. As a red wine vinegar substitute, tamarind paste is best used as a meat tenderizer. The high content of organic acids makes tamarind paste a powerful ingredient capable of breaking down collagen in the meat making it tender and juicy.
How to use: Use a small amount of tamarind paste instead of red wine vinegar when making marinades. Add more if needed.
Can You Use Red Wine Instead of Red Wine Vinegar?
Red wine can be used instead of red wine vinegar. But there are a few things you should know before substituting vinegar with wine.
Firstly, your dish will lack acidity if you use red wine instead of red wine vinegar. If you can get away with it, then there is no reason why this substation won’t work.
Secondly, you should take into account the fact that the flavor of red wine is much more intense. Your dish will taste richer and deeper. Substituting red wine for red wine vinegar is especially good in dishes that require or will benefit from the stronger-felt flavor of the wine.
Red wine vinegar and red wine are similar in consistency, making the latter a good substitute in dishes where acidity is not of key importance.
How to Make Red Wine Vinegar Substitute at Home?
If you think that using white wine or apple cider vinegar won’t work as perfectly as needed in dishes that would benefit from the flavor notes of red wine, then the best option is to make red wine vinegar yourself.
Considering how easy it is to make red wine vinegar substitute at home, it is certainly worth giving a try.
As you have probably guessed, you will have to mix vinegar with red wine to get a red wine vinegar. Vinegar will provide the acidity, while red wine will be responsible for the much-needed wine flavor.
Here is what you will need.
- 3 cups of white wine vinegar
- 1 cup of red wine
Use this mixture in any dish that calls for red wine vinegar and you will notice no differences in the result or performance of your homemade red wine vinegar substitute.