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Here’s the best substitute for red wine in cooking! There are a few options to avoid opening a bottle, or non-alcoholic options.

Red wine substitute

Making a recipe that calls for red wine, but don’t have a bottle? Or want to avoid cooking with alcohol? Many Mediterranean-style recipes like French and Italian recipes call for cooking with red wine. What does wine do? Cooking with wine helps to enhance the flavors in a dish: the acidity of the wine adds both a brightness and depth to the cooking. Red wine is often used to deglaze a pan or to add a complexity to sauce recipes.

Don’t have wine on hand, or don’t want to open a bottle? There are a few ingredients you might have on hand that work as a red win substitute. These options depend on the type of recipe and how the red wine is used: so make sure to read the details.

Best red wine substitute in cooking

1. Dry white wine.

A great red wine substitute in cooking? Dry white wine! If you happen to have a bottle of white you don’t mind opening, this is the best option. The flavor profile will be very similar. Though it won’t add a rosy color to a dark sauce, it will at least add the right flavor. (By the way, we don’t suggest the other way around: replacing white wine with the red variety! Most of the time that would add an undesirable color, like pink risotto!)

2. 100% pomegranate juice or cranberry juice.

Another red wine substitute in cooking? Pomegranate juice or cranberry juice! Use only the 100% juice versions of these two fruit juices, which are unsweetened. Sweetened pomegranate juice or cranberry juice cocktail have lots of added sugar. But the 100% juice versions are tart and red: they’re both a bit sweeter than wine, but they work in a pinch.

3. Red wine vinegar (plus water).

Another good red wine substitute? Red wine vinegar brings the signature acidity and tangy flavor of red wine, without the alcohol. It also carries a similar color to wine, though it’s less vibrant. Dilute it as a 50 / 50 mixture with water. So for every ½ cup wine, substitute ¼ cup red wine vinegar and ¼ cup water.

4. Vegetable, chicken, or beef broth.

In a pinch, you can use veggie, chicken or beef broth as a substitute for red wine in cooking! It won’t bring the acidity or complexity that wine does, but it will add a little extra flavor.

5. Water.

One last ditch red wine substitute? Water. You can substitute water for red wine in a pinch! It won’t bring any of that acidic flavor and complexity, but it will keep the liquid ratios of the recipe in tact.

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you’ll want to make again and again.

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