Made by fermenting the alcohol in red wine, red wine vinegar is a key ingredient in many sauces, gravies, and salads. Red wine vinegar has a specific taste. It’s tangy, crisp, and mildly sweet, and adds the element of acidity to a dish. So, replacing red wine vinegar can be tricky.
But if you substitute it correctly, you can bring out a similar flavor in your recipes with other ingredients. Here are ten substitutes for red wine vinegar you might have in your pantry.
#1. White Wine Vinegar
White wine vinegar tastes almost exactly like red wine vinegar, except it’s slightly less acidic. It can be used in sauces, marinades, salad dressings, and meat. Like red wine, it adds tang and sourness to a dish to increase its complexity.
The mildness of white wine vinegar makes it a more approachable ingredient in some dishes compared to red wine vinegar. If you have white wine vinegar in your pantry, you can substitute it for red wine vinegar evenly in any recipe. The only thing you may need to adjust is for the slight change in sweetness, in case your recipe incorporates wine’s fruity notes.
1 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar = 1 Tbsp White Wine Vinegar
#2. Balsamic Vinegar
Balsamic vinegar is also very close to red wine in flavor, almost indistinguishable when you’re using it in small quantities on salads. This is because balsamic vinegar is also made from fermented grape juice, but it’s more complex and mildly sweet.
To add red wine vinegar’s sharpness and acidity to your recipe, you only need to substitute half the amount of balsamic vinegar. They taste the same, but balsamic vinegar is more concentrated so it needs to be diluted if you’re using it to replace red or white wine vinegar. Balsamic vinegar goes best with marinade sauces and dressings.
1 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar = ½ Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
#3. Sherry Vinegar
Sherry vinegar is milder than red wine in acidity but much more flavorful. It’s medium-bodied and adds a slight amount of sweetness and nuttiness to a dish. Because the flavors are so well pronounced and mellow, sherry vinegar can sometimes be a better choice than red wine vinegar.
Sherry vinegar is excellent for preparing vinaigrette dressings and meat marinades. You can also add a splash of it to your soup or sauce to give it some warmth and sourness. Just note that sherry vinegar gets stronger as it ages, so check the date on the jar before buying it.
1 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar = 1 Tbsp Sherry Vinegar
#4. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has a fruity, sweet, and sour taste that is milder than red wine vinegar. So, using it as a substitute for red wine vinegar may alter the flavor of the dish a bit. Red wine vinegar helps to give foods a crisp finish, which is something you won’t get with apple cider vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar does, however, make flavor-intensive dishes like marinades and stews better. Pairing it with spicy foods in Asian cuisine or Mexican cuisine can also give you some interesting flavors. Since apple cider vinegar is milder than red wine vinegar, the substitution will have to be greater.
1 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar = 1½ Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
#5. Rice Vinegar
Rice vinegar is most commonly used in Asian cuisine as a dressing or condiment to add to noodles and rice. It is made by fermenting rice until it sours as much as red or white wine vinegar. This makes it taste quite similar to red wine vinegar, although it lacks in some parts like crispness.
If you’re using rice vinegar as a substitute, it goes best with salads and sauces. It’s got a tang that can complement spicy and savory flavors well and gives dishes more complexity. Since the acidity is the same, you can substitute rice vinegar evenly with red wine vinegar.
1 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar = 1 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
#6. White Vinegar Mixed with Red Wine
Mixing white vinegar with red wine can yield you a condiment or seasoning that almost exactly replicates the finish red wine vinegar gives to dishes. It can add the same acidity, complexity, and crispness to all kinds of dishes.
You need to let the mixture sit for a while before you use it. The ideal ratio for mixing is 1:3, so add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar for every 3 tablespoons of red wine. This gives you the same flavors of red wine vinegar, so you can also substitute it evenly.
1 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar = 1 Tbsp Mixture of White Vinegar with Red Wine
#7. Champagne Vinegar
Champagne vinegar is another fantastic choice of substitute for red wine vinegar as it adds the same crispiness to your dish. Recipes for foods like salad dressings, vinaigrettes, and condiments make the best use of champagne vinegar’s flavors.
Champagne vinegar has a very mild taste compared to red wine vinegar. It’s slightly sweeter but less acidic, so you will need to add more or else your finished dish will taste flat.
1 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar = 1½ Champagne Vinegar
#8. Tamarind Paste
Tamarind paste is often used in Asian cuisines to give savory dishes some earthiness and sourness. It’s an unconventional substitute for something like red wine vinegar, but one that you can incorporate in a surprising number of dishes.
Tamarind has a very unique flavor that ranges from sweet and sour to a tangy and tart flavor. It won’t work with every recipe because it has a pretty strong, noticeable flavor but it can be used to tenderize meat. Tamarind paste works best as a substitute if your recipe calls for small amounts of red wine vinegar.
1 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar = 1 Tsp Tamarind Paste
#9. Lemon Juice
When it comes to adding sourness or acidity, the most natural flavors on the planet come from lemon. It helps you achieve effects similar to those of red wine with most dishes, but it will reduce the complexity just a bit. For the best results, squeeze fresh lemon.
Lemon juice is something you’re very likely to have in your fridge, so if you ever run out of red wine vinegar, this substitute can save you a trip to the store. Lemon juice goes well with vinaigrette dressings and marinades. However, it’s milder than red wine vinegar so you will need to use more.
1 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar = 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
#10. Lime Juice
Lime tastes similar to lemon, but it’s slightly sweeter. It can add acidity and crispness to a dish so you can use it as a substitute for red wine vinegar.
Again, like with lemon, the best ways in which you can use lime juice are dressings, toppings, and marinades.
1 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar = 2 Tbsp Lime Juice