Red Wine Vinegar Substitutes

Chefs use red wine vinegar for purposes like pickling foods and marinating meats. It is most commonly used in Mediterranean countries. Wine vinegar is better if it is more mature. Most red wine may be matured for a maximum of two years.

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To make red wine vinegar, the wine is first allowed to ferment. There are several kinds of vinegar and other ingredients you can use as red wine vinegar substitutes in many recipes.

Different types of vinegar are used for cleaning, agricultural, medicinal and food preparation purposes. Vinegar is fermented ethanol that contains acetic acid, giving it a bitter taste. Some vinegar types also have citric or tartaric acid, adding different flavors to the condiment.

When red wine ferments, it produces acetic acid. The wine generally is placed in wooden barrels for the typical two year fermentation process. Then it is strained, purified and prepared for sale.

The quality of wine that is used in the creation red wine vinegar affects greatly the quality of the end product of the fermentation process. This brings about a distinct difference in taste and prices. Less expensive red wine type vinegar has a more aggressive flavor, and the expensive types will have a subtle, rather fruity note.

Red Wine Vinegar Substitutes

If you need red wine vinegar in a recipe you’re working on, but you don’t have any in your house, you can look to several options that can be used instead. These substitute ingredients will mimic the fruity, bitter flavor found in red wine type vinegar, and still offer the acid content that maintains the proper chemical composition for the recipe you’re working with.

Other Vinegars

There are various vinegar types that have a flavor profile that is similar to that of red wine vinegar.

Apple Cider Vinegar

This type of vinegar can provide the fruity flavor so often associated with the taste of red wine vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is usually more pungent than the typical red wine type vinegar, so you can substitute three tablespoons of this substitute vinegar for each four tablespoons of red wine vinegar called for in your recipe.

Balsamic Vinegar

This vinegar is among the more frequently used red wine vinegar substitutes found in many Italian recipes. Balsamic vinegar is milder and sweeter than red wine flavored vinegar. To counter that, you will decrease the amount of sweetener called for in your recipe, in order that the flavor of the vinegar will shine through.

White Wine Vinegar

This vinegar is made from fermented wine, similar to the process used in red wine vinegar. It has a similar acid level, so it won’t disturb your cooking process when you use it in vinaigrettes, sauces, marinades or stews. In some French recipes, white wine vinegar is actually preferred over red.

Sherry Vinegar

This vinegar is preferred in many Spanish recipes. It is milder and sweeter, and makes one of the best red wine vinegar substitutes. Reduce the amount of sweeteners you put in your recipe, to balance your flavors properly.

Rice Wine Vinegar

The acidic, bitter taste that is so often associated with typical red wine vinegar is also provided by rice wine vinegar. The flavor in this vinegar, though, is mellower than that in red wine type vinegar. In order to counter this, you can use more vinegar in your recipe than it calls for.  Rather than counting on specific ratios, you can adjust the recipe to your taste preference.

Other Options for Red Wine Vinegar Substitutes

There are various ingredients that handily mimic the flavor of a red wine type vinegar. These ingredients may satisfy the flavor profile, but might not offer the right acidity level to fully replace red wine vinegar in salad dressings, marinades and sauces.

Red Wine

Dry red wines can give you the flavoring and acid content needed for the completion of recipes, but it lacks some acidity you might prefer in dressings. Add a little mustard or white vinegar to complete your dressing. It will help it to properly emulsify.

White & Red Wine Vinegar Mixture

When you’re low on traditional red wine type vinegar, your recipes can be finished by adding white wine vinegar, to help in achieving the acidity level you want. Add other vinegars to your personal preference, so that the red wine vinegar taste will not be minimized.

Tamarind Paste

This paste possesses denaturing properties, which make it a good choice to break down proteins. Tamarind paste is used often in Asian and Indian cuisine. Use this only sparingly, to make sure you don’t alter the original cuisine desired.

Lime or Lemon Juice

These juices offer the level of acidity you want for maintaining the proper level in your recipes. The flavor profile might not, however, match the ingredients originally used in red wine vinegar.


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