There are many reasons why a recipe might call for red wine. There are also many reasons why red wine may not be in your pantry. Luckily, there are other liquids that can be substituted for red wine.
When substituting for Red Wine in cooking use equal amounts of liquid. For 1 cup of Red Wine substitute 1 cup of Beef Broth or Beef Stock, Cranberry Juice, Pomegranate Juice, Canned Mushroom Juice, or non-alcoholic Red Wine. 1-2 Tablespoons of Tomato paste mixed with ¾ cup canned tomatoes can also be a substitute. 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar (Red wine, white wine, balsamic or apple cider) mixed with ¾ cup grape juice and 1-2 tablespoons of water for 1 cup of Red Wine.
Learn more below about the different flavor profiles of the substitutes for Red Wine. When making your recipe consider the flavors you want to highlight to determine which substitute to use.
Beef Broth or Beef Stock is a good substitute for Red Wine if liquid is what you are looking for. If you want to give the stew the complexity of Red Wine, you can add 1-2 tablespoons of Red Wine Vinegar. Use 1-2 tablespoons of Tomato Paste to match the color of Red Wine.
Beef Broth or Beef Stock is the best alternative if you are worried about messing up the flavor using a Non-Alcoholic Red Wine or a Juice. Beef Broth will not add any additional flavors to the stew.
Use 1 cup of Beef Broth or Stock for 1 Cup of Wine. If adding vinegar and tomato paste, add them to the measuring cup and mix in with broth to make 1 cup of liquid.
Non-Alcoholic Red Wine
Non-Alcoholic Red Wine is one of the best alternatives. It has a similar flavor to Red Wine. These are good alternatives for meat sauces, stews, and desserts.
Non-Alcoholic Red Wine can be sweeter than regular wine. With Non-Alcoholic Red Wine it is important to use one that you enjoy.
For Non-Alcoholic Red Wine use an amount equal to what the recipe calls for. 1 Cup of Red Wine equals 1 Cup of Substitute.
Red Grape Juice
Unsweetened Red Grape Juice are some of the best alternatives. They have a similar flavor to Red Wine.
These are good alternatives for meat sauces, stews, and desserts. Grape juice is often too sweet to be used in pasta sauces.
If Unsweetened Red Grape Juice is not available, you can use Sweetened Grape Juice. In both cases the addition of 1-2 tablespoons of Vinegar (Red Wine Vinegar would be best) helps complete the Red Wine Flavor Substitution.
Red Cranberry Juice
Red Cranberry Juice mimics the color of Red Wine. It has a similar flavor when it is unsweetened. For this reason, Unsweetened Red Cranberry Juice is a better alternative than Sweetened Cranberry Juice.
The addition of 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar (Red Wine Vinegar is best) adds complexity and helps match the acidity of Red Wine.
Similar to Red Grape Juice use 1 cup of Red Cranberry Juice for 1 cup of Red Wine. If adding vinegar, make sure that vinegar and juice equals 1 cup. Like Grape Juice, Cranberry Juice is too fruity to be used in pasta sauces.
Pomegranate Juice mimics the color of Red Wine. It has a similar flavor though it is less acidic. To match Red Wine better add 1-2 tablespoons of Vinegar (Red Wine Vinegar is best).
Unsweetened Pomegranate Juice is better than sweetened for most recipes. Like Red Cranberry and Red Grape Juice, Pomegranate Juice is too fruity for pasta sauce but makes a good sauce for meat.
Use 1 cup of Pomegranate Juice for 1 cup of Red Wine. If adding vinegar keep the to the 1 cup rule, add the vinegar to the measuring cup then fill the rest of the way with Juice.
Tomato Paste is a good substitute for Red Wine in stew. To make sure to equal the liquid content of the Red Wine mix the tomato paste with Beef Broth or canned diced tomatoes.
Adding 1-2 tablespoons of Red Wine Vinegar will increase the complexity of the flavors.
Tomato Paste mixed with canned diced tomatoes and Red Wine Vinegar is the best option for substituting Red Wine in a Tomato Sauce.
Use one cup of the tomato mix for each cup of Red Wine.
Brine from Canned Mushrooms
While the brine from canned mushrooms might seem like a weird substitute for Red Wine, the vinegar matches the acid of Red Wine. The Brine has a more Earthy flavor then most Red Wines.
Canned Mushrooms with their brine are a great addition to most stews and sauces. With the addition of 1-2 tablespoons of tomato paste you can match the Red Wine flavor profile and color well.
Substitute 1 cup of Mushroom Brine for 1 cup of Red Wine.
Red Wine Vinegar
Red Wine Vinegar has a similar flavor profile to Red Wine since it is made from Red Wine. Of all the vinegars it is the best substitute.
Red Wine Vinegar is more acidic and more concentrated than Red Wine. If a recipe calls for 1 cup of Red Wine, use 2 tablespoons of Red Wine Vinegar. If you need to match the liquid amounts you can mix the vinegar with canned tomatoes or broth.
When using Vinegar, it is best to add it closer to the end of the cooking to keep the bright acidity of the flavor.
White Wine Vinegar
If you do not have Red Wine Vinegar than White Wine Vinegar will work. It will not match the flavor profile of a Red Wine. However, for any recipe where White Wine can be substituted for Red Wine you can use White Wine Vinegar.
White Wine Vinegar has the same acidity as a Red Wine Vinegar. If color is an issue mix it with some tomato paste and add at the end of the cooking process.
If more liquid is needed add ¾ broth or canned tomatoes at the beginning of the recipe.
This vinegar tends to be sweeter than the others. Balsamic vinegar is best added at the very end of the cooking process.
Use ¾ cup of broth or canned tomatoes at the point in the recipe when it calls for Red Wine. At the end add in 2 tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar to match the acidity of a Red Wine.
Because of the sweetness of balsamic vinegar, it may not pair as well as some of the other substitutions.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar comes from Apple Cider. This means it will go well in any stew which pairs well with Cider.
Similar to the Red and White Wine Vinegars, Apple Cider Vinegar should be paired with another liquid to keep liquid amounts equal. Broth, Stock, Brine, or canned tomatoes can provide the liquid needed.
For 1 cup of Red Wine, substitute 2 tablespoons of Apple Cider vinegar and ¾ cup of another liquid. As with the other vinegars, save the Apple Cider Vinegar for the end of the cooking process so that it does not lose its bright acidity.
As you can see there are a variety of Red Wine Substitutions. Depending on what recipe you are making you can use any of them. Keep in mind the flavors you want in your food.
What is Red Wine? Why do we use it? How do we use it?
Do you have a recipe that calls for Red Wine? It is hard to choose a replacement for Red Wine. Especially when you do not use or drink Red Wine. Knowing more about Red Wine can help you make the substitution.
What is Red Wine?
Red Wine is an alcoholic beverage made from fermenting and aging grape juice. The type of grapes, region they are grown in, the way the grapes are turned into wine, and the aging process all impact the flavor profile of Red Wine.
Red wine comes in many varieties. Red Wine characteristics are color, tannin, flavor, aromas, and acid.
Flavors & Uses of Red Wine
Recipes can use Red Wine for many different reasons. Red Wine is used for sauces, marinades, and cooking liquids. Red Wine can be a tenderizer in meat dishes. It also adds liquid to recipes.
Red Wines have complex flavors which add complexity to a recipe. Different Red Wines have different flavor profiles. If a recipe calls for a specific kind of Red Wine (Dry, full body, fruity, etc.) try to match the flavors. If you are unsure of the flavors a quick google search of the type of Red Wine will offer up a flavor profile.
Substitutions for Red Wine
Because of its complex and varied flavors picking the right substitution for Red Wine can be tricky.
Substitutions include Beef Broth or Beef Stock, Non-Alcoholic Red Wine or Grape Juice, Cranberry Juice, or Pomegranate Juice. Substitutions that require some tweaking include vinegar, tomato paste and canned mushroom brine or liquid.
Now that you know some common substitutions for Red Wine and how to mix and match them for a good flavor profile, liquid amount, and color, try them out. The best way to decide what works for you is to experiment. Once you do, you can make the best decision for your recipes.