Red wine is an essential ingredient in many recipes, adding a burst of warm flavor to dressings, stocks or marinades. However, you don't always have a bottle of Cabernet lying around, especially if you're not a big wine drinker. If you find yourself preparing a tasty salad dressing only to discover that you're missing one of its key ingredients, don't despair! Here are 7 red wine substitutes that will yield a delicious result.
1. Red Wine Vinegar
Red wine vinegar is an excellent substitute for red wine in cooking. Vinegar contains acetic acid, water, and certain compounds found in wine. Because of this, red wine vinegar has a similar flavor profile to dry red wine, so using it in its place won't noticeably change the taste of the dish. Red wine vinegar is delicious in beef stock or beef broth, along with vegetable stock. It also tastes great in pan sauces and salad dressings.
2. White Wine Vinegar
Similarly, white wine vinegar adds the acidity and flavor to a dish that red wine would. Like a dry white wine, white wine vinegar is tasty in lighter dishes like chicken broth, chicken stock, risotto or fish. Since wine vinegar has more acidity than wine, it's best to dilute it by adding it to water in a 1:1 ratio before using it in your recipe as a red wine substitute.
3. Pomegranate Juice
Another great replacement for red wine is fruit juices like pomegranate juice. This is perfect as a nonalcoholic substitute, ideal for those cutting alcohol out of their diet. Pomegranate juice is rich and fruity and will add extra flavor to any savory dish, especially as a glaze or salad dressing. Since it has less acidity than red wine, it's best to mix pomegranate juice with a tablespoon of vinegar before using it as a red wine substitute.
4. Cranberry Juice
Another fruit juice that works great as a replacement for red wine is cranberry juice, which also has a full, fruity flavor. Cranberry juice can be used in an equal amount to the red wine in a recipe. However, since cranberry juice has natural sweetness, it's best to use a version without any added sugar when adding it to a recipe. If even this version seems too sweet, you can add in a tablespoon of vinegar to balance it before adding cranberry juice to a recipe.
5. Grape Juice
Since wine is fermented grape juice, it only makes sense that grape juice would a perfect substitute for red wine! Wine and grape juice have very similar flavors, so they can be used in equal amounts in recipes. White grape juice is best when replacing white wine, while red grape juice works great when replacing red wine. For more acidity or less sweetness, you can add a small quantity of vinegar to your grape juice before putting it into the recipe.
6. Tomato Juice
Tomato juice has a similar level of acidity to red wine, so it works well as a red wine substitute in cooking. Tomato juice does have a slightly bitter flavor, so it should be mixed with another fruit juice if you're hoping to add sweetness to the recipe. Tomato juice is a tasty choice to enhance flavor profiles, but it's best to taste test as you go since it does have a significantly different flavor from red wine.
Beef, chicken or vegetable stock are good substitutes for red wine in cooking. Although this may seem counterintuitive, these liquids have a similar function to red wine in cooking, often being used as a base for dishes. Stock is made by simmering bones, meat, seafood or vegetables in water, and it adds a special flavor to any dish. If a recipe calls for red wine, beef broth is the most popular broth replacement, but others work as well. The same amount of stock can be used to replace red wine, but it's best to add a tablespoon of vinegar per cup of stock since it has less acidity than red wine.