12 Red Wine Substitutes for Cooking – Non-Alcoholic Options Included

Between the oldest beverages, red wine has its special place in culinary. Red wine is made of dark-colored grape varieties, and it comes in different tastes, flavors and hues. There are many recipes that request red wine and if you are looking for red wine substitutes for cooking then keep on reading. 

Grape juice undergoes crushing and fermentation and this is how we get red wine. It can be replaced with a number of other wines as well as fruit juices, which are considered as non-alcoholic substitutes. They also come with more affordable price tags and you can always have them in your kitchen. 

The main reason why we use red wine in cooking is to add moisture, tenderness and pleasant aroma to meals. It’s also used to deglaze various dishes. You can do it with these red wine alternatives too. 

Best Red Wine Substitutes To Try

  1. Red and White Vinegar

The most suitable substitutes for red wine are red and white vinegars. They are made the same way as red wine, and therefore they can ideally enhance the taste and flavor of any dish calling for red wine. 

This affordable alternative comes with more acidity which will be reflected in meals. So, you can use red and white vinegars in liquid sauces or marinades by 1:1 ratio. 

Use red vinegar with beef and pork dishes and choose white vinegar for poultry and fish. Meat dishes taste good with both types of vinegar. Red vinegar is also used in heavier dishes like pasta bolognese to provide a well-balanced flavor.

  1. Grape Juice

Consider using grape juice in the same recipes as red wine is used for, because both are produced from the same fruit. If you use dark-colored grapes, then your dish will achieve a similar flavor and color like red wine.

Perhaps one of the biggest differences is the taste. Compared to red wine, grape juice has more sweetness. In order to make it well-balanced with meals, you can mix red wine vinegar with it. This blend is perfect for meat dishes, salads, sauces and stews.

  1. Pomegranate Juice

The color, the taste and the amazing flavor of pomegranate is richer than some of the other alternatives to red wine. It’s better to use 100% natural juice of pomegranate when substituting for red wine. 

You can use it with seafood and poultry and the taste will be awesome. The natural sugar in pomegranate juice can be caramelized and used as a glaze for vegetable dishes. It has an acidic taste which will become milder if you add some vinegar. 

Compared to red wine, pomegranate juice has a stronger flavor and taste. So, be careful when adding it to cooked dishes. This juice is very healthy and it is often mixed with sauces that go well with meat. You can also use it as dressing for salads and fresh vegatbales. 

Cranberry Juice

Cranberry juice is rich in antioxidants, and it’s another healthy alternative to red wine. Although it has a tart and strong taste, it provides many dishes with the same flavor combination as wine. Its rich and juicy red color makes dishes look delicious and attractive. 

Cranberry juice goes well with chicken dishes and roasted meat. It can replace red wine in light sauces and can serve as beautiful dressing for salads and other dishes. In order to get a closer taste to wine, you’d better choose unsweetened cranberry juice. 

Ginger Juice

There are several types of ginger juices, some of which can be used instead of red wine. Those that contain lemon juice and sugar are usually the best choice for cooked dishes. The taste is similar but not the same. However, you are going to love it. 

As for the color, it will be a bit lighter. Fish marinades for chicken salads will also taste better with ginger juice. 

Apple Juice

Small quantities of apple juice can be ideal for meat sauces. It has both sweetness and sourness which becomes well-balanced in dishes. It is suitable for roast pork dishes, turkey and chicken sausages.

Depending on the type of the apple you use, the color of the juice and end dish will be either a bit light or dark. However, it offers a similar taste if you use apple juice instead of red wine by 1:1 ratio.

Lemon Juice

Surprisingly lemon juice substitutes for red wine too. Only a few drops of lemon juice is enough to get the taste close to red wine. We won’t talk about the color as it’s obvious that lemon juice can offer some brightness for sauces and dishes. Use it with grilled chicken, vegetables and roasted meat. 

Avoid overusing it if you want to get a milder taste. Use it in marinades and  dressings for better look and flavor. 

Cherry Juice

Cherry juice is not a popular option to choose instead of red wine but it can offer a taste and aroma reminiscent of red wine. Besides the taste, it also has a dark red color like red wine. It’s  pleasantly sour and sweet at the same time. Your dish will have a subtle taste if you use cherry juice. Beef stews and salads best go with this juice. 

As for the color, it’s going to be bold and juicy if you add it at the end of cooking or use as dressing. Use equal amounts of the juice when replacing it with red wine. 

Raspberry Juice

Raspberry, cranberry, grape and cherry are similar in taste. That’s why you can use raspberry juice to replace red wine. It comes in a tart-sour taste and dark red color, which are both similar to red wine. 

Use it as a dressing for salads and make different sauces for meat. Several types of stews and soups can also call for this juice. It adds a bit of appetizing flavor and color. 

Raspberry juice is a fantastic substitute especially in desserts. If you are planning to bake a cake, pie or tart with red wine but don’t have it in hand, you can always refer to raspberry juice. Just use it in a 1:1 ratio when replacing it with red wine.

Dry White Wine 

Leaving alone all the possible dark-colored beverages and juices, here we come with dry white wine as a great alternative to red wine. The flavor of dry white wine is very similar to red wine. So, if you have it at home, you can use it instead of red wine in case it’s a major ingredient in your recipe. 

It’s suitable for fish and poultry dishes, and will provide almost the same result as red wine does. Of course, the end dish is going to have another look and color, but it will taste the same way if you use similar amounts. As for the flavor, it will be lighter and more tender. You can also make awesome pasta sauces with white wine. However, avoid using it with beef stew.

11. Tomato Juice

Those that don’t like the sweetness of fruit juices in dishes, may try tomato sauce instead of red wine. This is a healthy and tasty vegatbale that comes with the necessary acidity for beef stews and other red wine recipes.

While it’s not the best substitute because of different taste and flavor, it will still provide the desired red color to your dish.

12. Beef, Chicken or Vegetable Stock

If you are planning to cook a meat or vegetable dish but you don’t have any of the above-mentioned substitutes for red wine, then don’t worry! You can always use chicken, beef or vegetable stock instead. 

Those broths add an extra flavor to any meal. They go well with cooked meals, and you can’t use them with salads or cold dishes. 

FAQs on Red Wine 

Is it a good idea to use rice vinegar to replace red wine vinegar?

Yes, you can use rice vinegar instead of red wine but you may have to add a little more rice vinegar to the dish to reach the matching taste. 

Can you substitute balsamic for red wine vinegar?

You can substitute balsamic for red wine vinegar in 1:1 ratio in many recipes. However, balsamic is thicker in its texture and you can dilute it with white vinegar. This way, you also reduce its sweetness.

Can you substitute red wine vinegar for white wine vinegar?

In spite of the fact that red wine vinegar has a bolder flavor, you can use white wine vinegar instead. They offer similar tastes. You can substitute in a 1:1 ratio. 

What are the best dry red wine substitutes? 

The best dry red wine substitutes are red and white wine vinegar, pomegranate juice, cranberry juice,  ginger juice and apple juice. 

Can red wine be substituted for red wine vinegar?

If you use it in small amounts then you may reach a similar result. So, don’t overuse red wine vinegar when substituting for red wine in order to keep the taste of the dish well-balanced. 

What does cooking with red wine taste like?

Sourness and sweetness are the main tastes you’ll taste in dishes made with red wine. This strong combination of flavors make the dish smell appetizing. Red wine improves the flavor of cooked dishes. When blended with sauces it makes them stronger in flavor and richer in dark red hue. 

Final Thoughts

After listing the best red wine substitutes, we also like to give some info about the state of the red wine after it’s cooked. You may wonder whether it remains alcoholic or not. The thing is that all the alcohol included in it disappears while being cooked. So, the end dish is served with non-alcoholic wine and only the flavor, color and rich aroma remains in it. 

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