Red wine vinegar, red wine, sherry vinegar and white wine vinegar in glasses on a oak barrel

The 8 Best Red Wine Vinegar Substitutes

Ran out of red wine vinegar, or can’t find it in the supermarket? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered! The best substitute for red wine vinegar all depends on the recipe you need it for. Do you plan on adding it raw or cooking out the acidity?

Below I’ll share with you my favourite substitutes for red wine vinegar, what substitutes work for what, and where’s the best place to find it for next time!

Firstly, we’ll quickly look at how it’s made and what it tastes like.

What is Red Wine Vinegar?

It’s oxidized red wine that’s fermented for a second time. In the second fermentation, the ethanol and sugar break down to acetic acid; this gives vinegar its signature acidic taste. This process can take between 1 day to 1 year, depending on the fermentation process.

Likely Places to Find Red Wine Vinegar

The most common place to buy red wine vinegar is in your generic supermarket. You can usually find it on the same aisle as the oils. For more premium versions, you may need to look in speciality stores or online

8 Best Substitutes for Red Wine Vinegar

The best substitute for red wine vinegar all depends on your recipe. The list below will help you decide what substitute to use by giving you advice on what vinegar works best and the ratio difference you should use. The substitute ratio is based on acidity and flavour!

1. White Wine Vinegar – Best Generic Choice

White wine in wine glasses

White wine vinegar is my go-to replacement. It’s made from grapes and has a very similar acidic percentage. It means you can swap out red wine vinegar for white with a 1:1 ratio, meaning 1tbsp of red wine vinegar for 1 tbsp of white wine vinegar.

Acidity Percentage: 6 – 7%

Substitute Ratio: 1:1

2. Champagne Vinegar – For Light Dishes

Champagne in tall glasses

Champagne vinegar is made from special Pinot Meunier and other unique white grapes grown in France. It has a lighter, fruity and floral flavour. It’s the ideal alternative for more delicate dishes like salad dressing or recipes containing fish or seafood.

Acidity Percentage: 6 – 7%

Substitute Ratio: 1:1

3. Sherry Vinegar – For Rich Dishes

Sherry vinegar in glass bottles on a wooden barrel

Sherry vinegar is made from particular Palomino grapes and similar varieties. It has a rich flavour with acidity and a slightly savoury taste. It is an excellent substitute for richer dishes, including red meats, stews, casseroles, and sauces for meat.

Acidity Percentage: 7 – 8%

Substitute Ratio: 0.8:1

4. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar in a wooden barrel being poured through a sieve into a bucket

You can get slightly sweeter or acidic types of apple cider vinegar; this depends on the used apples. Apple cider vinegar has a fruity, somewhat sweet, and tart flavour. It’s an ideal substitute for salad dressing.

Acidity Percentage: 4 – 5%

Substitute Ratio: 1.25:1

5. Red Rice Vinegar – Best for Asian Flavours and Adding Colour

Red rice grains on a white background

Red rice vinegar is also known as Chinese red vinegar, is made from red yeast rice, which is fermented rice. It’s slightly sweet, tart, and somewhat salty, with approximately half the acidity as red wine vinegar. It’s an ideal substitute for Chinese dipping sauces and pairs well with most Asian flavours.

Acidity Percentage: 4 – 7%

Substitute Ratio: 1.25:1

6. Rice Vinegar

Rice grains that haven't been harvested

Rice vinegar is made from fermented rice. It has a mild and slightly sweet flavour with nearly half the acidity of red wine vinegar. It’s an excellent substitute for salad dressing, Asian flavours, and is a common ingredient in the pickling liquid.

Acidity Percentage: 4 – 7%

Substitute Ratio: 1.25:1

7. Balsamic Vinegar 

Balsamic vinegar in a glass bottle

Balsamic vinegar is traditionally made from Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes. It originates from Modena in the Emilia-Romagna region and has intense, rich complexed sweetness with notes of molasses and fig. It’s an excellent substitute for salad dressing and richer dishes like stews and casseroles.

Acidity Percentage: 4 – 7%

Substitute Ratio: 1:1

8. Lemon

Lemons still attached to the lemon tree

Lemons contain a different acidic compound called citric acid. It makes for a much fresher flavour than vinegar and is an excellent substitute for marinades, grilled dishes, and foods like fish and seafood.

Acidity Percentage: 5-6%

Substitute Ratio: 1:1

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I turn old red wine into red wine vinegar?

Yes, you can turn your old red wine into vinegar at home. Place a ½ to ¾ bottle of red wine on the counter. Replace the lid with a tightly fitted cheesecloth. Then leave out of sunlight for two weeks. Next, strain the vinegar and sieve into a sterilized glass bottle.

Does red wine vinegar contain alcohol?

It contains extremely little to no alcohol. During the fermentation process, acetobacter bacteria convert the alcohol in the red wine into acetic acid, giving it its acidic taste.

Does red wine vinegar have any health benefits?

It’s fat-free and low in calories. It also contains acetic acid and probiotics, which have an anti glycemic effect aiding in digestion and help lower blood sugar spikes.

Does red wine vinegar go bad?

It has an almost indefinite shelf life. If the vinegar has been probably fermented and stored, it can last for years. However, it’s a good rule of thumb to follow the guidelines on each bottle.

Conclusion 

Red wine vinegar has a bunch of great alternatives that can be used. It all depends on the type of recipe you are looking for, but if you plan on using red wine vinegar reasonably often. It’s worth the investment to get a good quality bottle because the shelf life is so long!

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