red wine vinegar

Top 5 Red Wine Vinegar Substitutes That Work With Any Dish

Red wine vinegar is a staple in some kitchens, particularly for those who enjoy making a stew without real wine. Others use red wine vinegar as part of a marinade or dressing, as it is sweet and sour at the same time. You can use vinegar to give sauces more flavor, and red wine vinegar is an alcohol-free choice for those who prefer it.

You may be wondering though, what makes red wine vinegar so special? 

As you have probably guessed by now, red wine vinegar is made from red wine, which is why it isn’t just tangy but sweet as well. The flavor is strong and sort of hot and goes well in meat dishes, hearty stews, or in vinaigrettes.

You can find this vinegar in most grocery stores. However, there are times when you either don’t have any or can’t take the time to find one, so it’s better if you are aware of what options could work too. 

What Can I Replace Red Wine Vinegar With?

Now, it’s time to get cooking! Here are the best red wine vinegar substitutes you can use: 

#1. Red Wine

Since this is the main component of red wine vinegar it shouldn’t be surprising that it can be a good replacement. The difference is the level of fermentation.

Red wine does have alcohol while red wine vinegar doesn’t and it is also more acidic. The type of wine is up to you, but we recommend sweeter ones to not overpower the other flavors in your recipe. 

You can find red wine in any liquor store, and in some cases, in your local grocery store. You should replace about half or less of the vinegar for red wine, this is because of the high alcoholic content. Also, we recommend you use red wine in stews, marinades, and some sauces, but not in vinaigrettes.

#2. Sherry Vinegar

This vinegar is made from the fortified wine sherry from Spain, also known as “Jerez” in Spanish. The flavor though is very different from wines.

It is similar to rum or brandy, and in the case of sherry vinegar, the flavor is nutty and slightly sweet. You can find sherry vinegar in most grocery stores these days, as it has become popular because it is cheap and tasty. 

Sherry vinegar is used in sauces, dressings, and marinades, and sometimes, even in desserts. It can replace red wine vinegar, but you probably will need to add ½ more due to its milder flavor.

#3. Red Wine + White Wine Vinegar

Since red wine is too powerful, it can be a good idea to mix it with white wine vinegar for a more similar flavor to red wine vinegar. The sweetness and body come from the red wine, while the tanginess comes from white wine vinegar.

You can buy red wine in liquor stores and in some grocery stores, where you will also find white wine vinegar, usually with the oils and salad dressings. 

We suggest that you add the red wine first and then taste it. If you think it needs acidity, add the white wine vinegar as you go, and always try it before adding more. Also, be sure to choose a red wine that isn’t too bitter, as the combination with white wine vinegar could result in a very pungent flavor.

#4. Apple Cider Vinegar

This choice may be the sweetest option, but it is also a very acidic vinegar, so the combination of these two doesn’t always sit well with everyone.

Apple cider vinegar is good for your health, particularly, for regulating bowel movements and gut microbes, so it has become widely popular and available almost everywhere.

If you want to add more body and cut the apple sweetness, you could try adding red wine as well. For 1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar about 2 and ½ of apple cider vinegar will be sufficient, but you should always taste while cooking. 

#5. Lime or Lemon Juice

While it is very acidic, this choice is considered last because it doesn’t completely replace the flavor of red wine vinegar.

Lime or lemon juice is completely acidic, while vinegar is acetic, meaning the type of acid flavor is different. However, since limes and lemons are very easy to buy, they may be a good choice when in a pinch.

You can use these in vinaigrettes, salad dressings, and in some sauces, but make sure you taste your dish as you go. It is also better if you only add a sprinkle because too much can overpower the rest of the flavors in your dish.

Other Options

While these previous substitutions are the best options, there are some other kinds of vinegar that you could try.

Balsamic vinegar is more pungent than others, but it can be a good replacement when used in salad dressings and some sauces.

Champagne vinegar is a bit too sweet and mild but could be used along with other acidic choices, like lime juice. 

Finally, there is rice wine vinegar, which has a milder flavor, sort of nutty too. You could use this in meat stews, or noodle sauces. You could mix and match to get a similar flavor profile to red wine vinegar, but always check the taste before adding it to your cooking.

See more: Does red wine vinegar go bad?


Can red wine vinegar be used in place of red wine in a recipe?

While the reverse is possible, replacing red wine vinegar when your recipe calls for red wine is a bit tricky. It will work if you don’t have a choice, but often the recipe needs the alcohol in red wine to add flavor and substance to the sauce, or meat. Stick to the red wine if possible, otherwise, consider using red wine vinegar in larger quantities along with a thickener.

Is red vinegar the same as red wine vinegar?

No. These two types of vinegar aren’t the same. Red vinegar is often rice wine vinegar that is made from a type of fermented red rice. Red wine vinegar, on the other hand, is made from red wine that is allowed to ferment further.

Can I make my own red wine vinegar at home?

Making your own red wine vinegar at home is pretty easy. A bottle of leftover red wine can be converted to vinegar by simply covering the mouth of the bottle with cheesecloth. It is also advisable to dilute the wine with water as higher alcohol content inhibits the activity of bacteria that helps make your wine into vinegar.


Replacing red wine vinegar isn’t too hard if you pay attention to flavor and aroma. These choices work in different cases, so you can pick any of them, but make sure you try for flavor and see if they go well with the rest of the ingredients in your dish. Time to pick the best alternative!

red wine vinegar substitutes

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