best red wine substitute

The 10 Best Red Wine Substitutes For Cooking When You Don't Have a Bottle on Hand

You probably have most of these in your pantry.

Red wine is an essential ingredient that adds a burst of warmth to many recipes. It's an important aspect of building flavor in beef stews, tomato sauces, or poached pears for dessert. You may not always have a bottle of Cabernet lying around, especially if you're not a wine drinker. If you've gathered and measured your ingredients only to discover you're out of red wine, what's next? Do you throw everything away and order pizza instead? Lucky for you, you don't have to (unless you really want pizza). 

We're here to share 10 red wine substitutes for when you don't have a bottle on hand. No matter what recipe you've got your heart set on, these substitutes will help yield a delicious result. Options include things you have already, like red or white wine vinegar. You can also substitute red wine with different juices, like tomato, cranberry, or pomegranate. There is even the option of using canned mushroom liquid to achieve the perfect flavor profile.

Whichever red wine substitutes you use, each one adds something special to the recipe you're making. Remember, your secret is safe with us, so get started preparing your next feast and grab a glass of juice to celebrate. 

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. Using it won't noticeably change the taste of most dishes. Red wine vinegar is delicious in beef stock or beef broth, in addition to vegetable stock. It also tastes great in pan sauces and salad dressings.

2. White Wine Vinegar

White wine vinegar adds a similar acidity and flavor to dishes that call for red wine. Like a dry white wine, white wine vinegar is tasty in lighter dishes with chicken stock, risotto, or fish. Wine vinegar has more acidity than wine, so it's best to dilute it first. Be sure to mix the white wine vinegar with water in a 1:1 ratio before using it in your recipe.

3. Pomegranate Juice

Another great replacement for red wine includes fruit juices like pomegranate juice. This is perfect as a nonalcoholic substitute and ideal for those cutting alcohol from their diet. Pomegranate juice is rich and fruity and will add extra flavor to any savory dish, especially salad dressings. Pomegranate juice has less acidity than red wine. This means it's best to combine it 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 has a full, fruity flavor. Cranberry juice can be used in an equal amount to the red wine in a recipe, especially a sauceSince cranberry juice has natural sweetness, use a version without added sugar when using it as a red wine substitute. If the result is still too sweet, add a tablespoon of vinegar to balance things before adding cranberry juice to a recipe.

5. Grape Juice

Since wine is fermented grape juice, it only makes sense that grape juice would be a perfect substitute for red wine. Wine and grape juice have very similar flavors, so they can be used in equal amounts in recipes. Red grape juice works best when replacing red wine in any recipe. For more acidity or less sweetness, add a small quantity of vinegar to your grape juice before adding it to the mix.

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 is slightly bitter, so it should be mixed with another fruit juice if you're hoping to add some sweetness. Tomato juice is a tasty choice to enhance flavor profiles, but taste test as you go. It does have a significantly different flavor from red wine. Tomato juice can easily be your go-to when it replaces red wine in any tomato-based sauce.

7. Stock

Beef, chicken, or vegetable stock can be good substitutes for red wine in cooking. Any type of stock performs a similar function to red wine in cooking as a base for dishes. Stock is made by simmering bones, meat, seafood, or vegetables in water, and adds special flavor to any recipe.  When in need of red wine substitutes, beef broth is the most popular replacement, but others work well too. To replace red wine, add a tablespoon of vinegar per cup of stock since broth has less acidity than red wine.

8. Lemon Juice

You may not be convinced that lemon juice works well among red wine substitutes. The sour flavor of lemons comes from their higher levels of acidity. They do contain citric acid instead of the tartaric and malic acids found in wine, which are not as flavorless. When adding lemon juice as a substitute for red wine, cut the amount in half. For every cup of red wine, use ½ cup of lemon juice combined with ½ cup of water to dilute it.

9. Ginger Ale

One of the most surprising red wine substitutes can be found by using ginger ale. The popular beverage can vary from a light flavor to the deep, spicy notes of ginger beer. Replacing red wine with ginger ale works well for certain marinades and with many vinaigrette dressings. You can adjust the amount you use, depending on the inherent sweetness of the recipe in question.

10. Canned Mushroom Liquid

If you've got an extra can of mushrooms in your pantry, you're in luck. It turns out the liquid in canned mushrooms is one of the tastiest red wine substitutes for many recipes. Combine equal parts mushroom liquid with cranberry, pomegranate, or grape juice for the perfect flavor. For savory dishes like a stew, you could toss in the mushrooms, too, for an extra boost.

READ MORE: Dry White Wine for Cooking: The Easy Way to up Your Cooking Game