If you're wondering what the best red wine vinegar substitute is, we have nine great substitute ideas!
Red wine vinegar is usually easy to find at the grocery store, but you may need a good substitute if it's not a common pantry staple for you or if you're all out.
We're going to give you several options to use instead of red wine vinegar and give you our best tips for how to use them. Whether you're making a salad dressing, marinade, or a savory sauce, we've got you covered with the perfect alternatives to red wine vinegar.
What Does Red Wine Vinegar Taste Like?
When deciding which red wine vinegar substitute is best for you, it may first help to understand what red wine vinegar tastes like.
Red wine vinegar is made by fermenting red wine, which turns it into acetic acid. Then, it's mixed with water to make red wine vinegar. It has a full flavor, much like that of red wine, and you will most often see it in marinades, salad dressings, and cold pasta recipes.
Just like most vinegars, the taste is acidic. However, if you think of white vinegar and its taste, which is mostly just acidic and not so much flavorful, red wine vinegar is the opposite. It's a little bit smoky and sour.
Best Red Wine Vinegar Substitutes
If a recipe calls for red wine vinegar and you don't have any on hand, we have you covered. There are many great substitution options for you!
These are the top nine best red wine vinegar substitutes and how to use them. The best red wine vinegar substitute will depend on what you're making. We have all the tips below!
1. White Wine Vinegar
If you're all out of red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar is a great red wine vinegar substitute.
The fermentation process of white wine vinegar is the same as red wine vinegar, but white wine is fermented instead of red wine. This gives a similar acidity as red wine vinegar, but the flavor is a bit lighter, similar to the comparison of white and red wine.
You can use white wine vinegar as a 1:1 substitution for red wine vinegar. Just keep in mind white wine vinegar will have a milder flavor and is best when substituted in lighter recipes, like salad dressings or chicken marinades.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is another good red wine vinegar substitute. It has a full-bodied, fruity flavor that comes from fermenting apples. The acidity levels in apple cider vinegar are about the same as red wine vinegar, but since it has a slightly more fruity flavor than red wine vinegar, you should start with a little less apple cider vinegar than you would red wine vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar is easy to find at most grocery stores and includes health benefits like the potential to lower blood sugar levels and may improve heart health. It's great for dressings, vinaigrettes, and tomato sauce recipes.
3. Sherry Vinegar
Though sherry vinegar may not be as common in pantries as some other vinegar, sherry vinegar can make a great red wine vinegar substitute.
It has a slightly sweeter taste than red wine vinegar and has a bit of a nutty taste. In most recipes, you can use sherry vinegar 1:1 as a substitution, but it works best with soups, red and game meats, and richer salad dressings.
4. Rice Vinegar
Also known as rice wine vinegar, rice vinegar is a mild, slightly sweet type of vinegar that makes a great red wine vinegar substitute in seafood, pickling, marinades, and Asian cuisine.
When using rice vinegar instead of red wine vinegar, you may need a bit more than a 1:1 ratio. Rice vinegar is more mild in comparison to red wine vinegar. Start with the same amount, but add a little more if the acidity isn't quite right.
5. Champagne Vinegar
Champagne vinegar has a light and tangy flavor. It's made from fermenting champagne grapes. Similar to white wine vinegar, champagne vinegar has a light taste and won't be as full-flavored as red wine vinegar.
Champagne vinegar tastes great in salad dressings and can be used 1:1 as a red wine vinegar substitute. I recommend using champagne vinegar in salad dressings and marinades for poultry and seafood.
6. Balsamic Vinegar
For many, balsamic vinegar is a staple ingredient in the pantry. Its availability and flavor make it a great alternative to red wine vinegar.
Balsamic vinegar is an excellent substitute in recipes using red meat and those with richer flavor profiles. Balsamic vinegar may not be the best substitute for red wine vinegar in more delicate recipes, like those using poultry and seafood.
You can use balsamic vinegar 1:1 in recipes calling for red wine vinegar. In lighter vinaigrettes or recipes with poultry or seafood, the balsamic vinegar may need to be diluted or go with a different substitution option.
7. Raspberry Vinegar
Raspberry vinegar has a lighter and sweeter taste than red wine vinegar. If you're making a salad dressing or a marinade, raspberry vinegar may be a great substitute. Raspberry vinegar will have a fruitier flavor than red wine vinegar, so it's important to consider what you make before using it.
You can use raspberry vinegar as a 1:1 substitute for red wine vinegar, keeping in mind the fruitier flavor of raspberry vinegar.
8. Citrus Juices
Lemon juice or lime juice can be a suitable substitute for red wine vinegar when only acidity is needed in a recipe. Lemon and lime juice have very distinct, light citrus tastes, which vary quite a bit from the full flavor of red wine vinegar.
Citrus juices can be a good substitute for red wine vinegar in marinades. You may want to start with using half the amount of citrus juice where red wine vinegar is called for.
Just be careful. If lemon or lime juice is already an ingredient or red wine vinegar is a main component of a recipe, citrus juice probably won't work as a substitute.
9. Tamarind Paste
Tamarind paste is made from the fruit of a tamarind tree. It's a little bit sweet and a little bit sour. It's a key ingredient in Worcestershire sauce and what gives the sauce its distinct flavor. Tamarind paste has a sour flavor, which is why it can be a good substitute for red wine vinegar.
Tamarind paste is often used in Indian, Asian, Middle Eastern, and Mexican dishes. It makes a great meat tenderizer and is a great substitute for red wine vinegar in marinades and sauces.
Mixing the paste with a little water is the best way to use tamarind paste as a red wine vinegar substitute. You will use twice as much water as the paste, then use equal parts of the water/paste solution in place of red wine vinegar.
Alternatively, you can start by using half the amount of tamarind paste as red wine vinegar is called for in a recipe and add more if needed.
Breaking Down Red Wine Vinegar Substitutes
Here's a quick reference guide of the best substitutes and when to use them.
Salads: white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, champagne vinegar, raspberry vinegar
Marinades: white wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, citrus juices, raspberry vinegar
Soups and pasta dishes: apple cider vinegar, sherry vinegar
For use with red meats: sherry vinegar, balsamic vinegar
With seafood and poultry: rice vinegar, white wine vinegar, champagne vinegar
Sauces: apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar
If you don't have red wine vinegar on hand and need a substitute, there are other ingredients you can use as a replacement. The most important factor will be what you are making. It's important to consider flavor profiles when choosing the best substitute.
Red wine vinegar is a full-flavor vinegar, meaning it's more complex than just having an acidic taste. It's often used in salad dressings and marinades. Marinades are much more forgiving than other recipes since the final product is cooked.
Salad dressings are usually okay to substitute most other vinegar; keep in mind the different flavors of each vinegar. Balsamic vinegar can be tricky to substitute in salad dressings since it's so dark and has a very distinct flavor. But it can be great when making sauces to be used with red and game meat.
The amount of red wine vinegar in a recipe will also impact how well your substitution works. If you are trying to replace red wine vinegar when a large amount, like half of the recipe, is red wine vinegar, the final product will likely be significantly different than intended.
More Ways to Use Red Wine Vinegar
Looking for more ways to use your red wine vinegar or your substitute? Check out these recipes!
- Citrus Pomegranate Salad - If you're looking for a fresh salad to add to your next meal, you'll love the zesty citrus flavors paired with the feta cheese in this salad.
- Wholegrain Mustard Dressing - Keep a batch of this delicious vinaigrette on hand for fresh salads or use in a marinade.
- Persimmon Salad - This wonderful salad makes a great side dish, especially during the holidays. Or add your favorite protein and make it a filling meal.
- French Potato Salad - This lighter twist on potato salad will surely be a hit. With hard-boiled eggs and green beans, it's a full meal everyone will love.