Sometimes you need red wine vinegar and you just don’t have it! Look no further for the best substitutes for red wine vinegar when you’re in a pinch.
What is red wine vinegar?
Red wine vinegar is made my further fermenting red wine past the point of alcohol and into acetic acid. If you’ve tasted red wine before, you know the flavor is strong and robust. Red wine vinegar obviously carries a lot of that fruity flavor but adds in the tang and acidity that comes with being vinegar.
What is red wine vinegar used for?
Much like a nice red wine pairs well with a hearty meal, red wine vinegar is often paired with the same. It can also be used in a salad dressing or marinade and makes a great base for a brine when you’re pickling. It’s pretty versatile! Seriously – watermelon gazpacho, anyone?
We’ve also got plenty of options for what to do when you don’t have it available and you need to find a good red wine vinegar substitute, so don’t fret! You’ll have your dream meal made in no time.
Best Red Wine Vinegar Substitutes
Can I replace red wine vinegar? Yes! The most common red wine vinegar substitutes are white vinegar and red wine, white wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and rice vinegar. Read more about each substitute for red wine vinegar below.
1. White vinegar + red wine
If you’re like me, you probably have white vinegar in the pantry from some recipe or another. You probably also have that bottle of red wine on the shelf just waiting to be used. That’s just perfect, because you also need red wine vinegar and can’t seem to find any anywhere. These two together make a perfect red wine vinegar substitute!
White vinegar has that classic vinegar taste – acidic and bold. Beyond that, it doesn’t really have much flavor, which is why the red wine is a necessary addition to make it a good substitute for the bold flavor of red wine vinegar.
White vinegar is made by fermenting grain based alcohol (like vodka), or mixing acetic acid with water. It’s also sometimes known as spirit vinegar. It can get confusing, but it’s different than distilled white vinegar, which is usually 5-8% acetic acid. White vinegar is 5-20% acetic acid. That’s a big difference! To further confuse you, white wine vinegar also exists. Vinegar gets complicated, okay?
To use this as a red wine vinegar substitute, you’ll want to mix one half white vinegar and one half red wine. For example, if you need 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar, you’ll do 2 tablespoons white vinegar and 2 tablespoons red wine. You can also do a 1:3 ratio if you want to tone it down a bit, which in this example would be 1 tablespoon red wine to 3 tablespoons white vinegar.
Once mixed, you’ll want to let the mixture sit for a few hours to let the flavors combine a little better. It’s not the end of the world if you can’t do this, but it’ll help your end result. And after all this cooking, you deserve a glass of that red wine!
2. White wine vinegar
White wine vinegar is similar to red wine vinegar in that it’s made from wine. It’s just fermented from white wine instead of red. You probably know that white wine and red wine taste quite different, but in terms of vinegar the acidity levels are very similar. This makes it a great substitute!
You can substitute this one 1:1, but be aware that the flavor of the white wine vinegar is less intense than that of the red wine vinegar. You might want to make up for this flavor elsewhere in your recipe.
3. Balsamic vinegar
Balsamic is a strong play as a substitute for red wine vinegar, but it works I promise. It’s made differently from other vinegar. Instead of fermenting alcohol, crushed grapes are put into barrels to thicken and concentrate over time. But wine is also made from grapes, so that fruity flavor that it shares with red wine vinegar makes it a good substitute.
Balsamic vinegar has a strong flavor profile, which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on the recipe you’re intending to use it as a substitute in. If it’s a salad dressing, you can substitute balsamic for red wine vinegar at a 1:1 ratio. For something where the red wine vinegar flavor wouldn’t have been as strong, you should dilute the balsamic by half with either red wine or white vinegar. This is also a good move if you need it to be less syrupy, as balsamic is thicker than red wine vinegar.
4. Rice vinegar
Rice vinegar, as you can probably guess, is made by fermenting rice into alcohol and then a step further into acetic acid.
Rice vinegar carries the same acidic, tangy taste as red wine vinegar, which makes it a good substitute in a pinch. However, the flavor is definitely not as strong as red wine vinegar so you’ll probably need to add more to the recipe to get the vinegar flavor you’re looking for.