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Wine substitutes

11 non-alcoholic alternatives for red and white wine

Red and white wine are often used in cooking. This article presents 11 substitutes for when you don't have wine on hand or if you choose not to consume alcohol.

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Last updated on July 30, 2022, and last reviewed by an expert on July 21, 2022.

Wine is a popular alcoholic beverage made from fermented grape juice.

Red and white wine are also popular cooking ingredients. They are included in many recipes to enhance flavor and color.

Additionally, wine is often used in cooking to provide moisture, tenderize meat, or deglaze a pan.

If you don’t have wine on hand, or if you choose not to consume alcohol, there are many non-alcoholic substitutes you can use in cooking that will make your food just as delicious.

This article discusses 11 non-alcoholic substitutes for wine in cooking.

1. Red and white wine vinegar

Vinegar is a fermented, acidic liquid that is commonly used in cooking.

It mainly consists of acetic acid and water as well as compounds found in wine, which is frequently used to make vinegar. Vinegar can also be produced from apple cider, coconut water, malt, or rice.

Red and white wine vinegar are great substitutes for wine in cooking. They have flavors similar to wine, and the vinegar will not substantially affect the taste of the dish.

Generally, wine vinegar is useful for liquid-based recipes, such as salad dressings and marinades.

Red wine vinegar is best used with beef, pork, and vegetables, while white wine vinegar works well in less hearty dishes, such as those with chicken and fish.

Wine vinegar is more acidic than regular wine, so it is recommended to dilute it before adding it to recipes, for instance by mixing water and wine vinegar at a 1:1 ratio.

It is important to note that vinegar may contain trace amounts of alcohol, although it mostly disappears during the fermentation process. The alcohol content is also reduced with cooking.

However, if alcohol is restricted from your diet, you may prefer to avoid wine vinegar.

Summary: Wine vinegar can replace wine in cooking without having a major impact on the taste of recipes. However, it is important to dilute the vinegar with water before using it in cooking, due to its intense acidity.

2. Pomegranate juice

Pomegranate juice is a beverage with a rich, fruity flavor.

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Additionally, pomegranate juice is fairly acidic and boosts the flavor of just about any food. Its flavor, aroma, and acidity are comparable to red wine, so it may be used to replace red wine equally in cooking.

Since pomegranate juice is less acidic than red wine, you can mix it with a tablespoon of vinegar, which will result in a stronger flavor.

Pomegranate juice tastes great with several different types of dishes. It works well when added to salad dressings and sauces or when used in a glaze for vegetables.

Not only does pomegranate juice add flavor to recipes, but it may also provide some health benefits.

It is rich in antioxidants and has been studied for its potential to lower blood pressure, which is a common risk factor for heart disease.

Summary: Pomegranate juice is an excellent substitute for red wine in cooking due to its similar color, flavor, and acidity.

3. Cranberry juice

Cranberry juice is a tart beverage that makes an excellent red wine substitute due to its similar color, rich flavor, and acidity. It deepens the flavor of just about any recipe.

Similar to pomegranate juice, you can replace red wine with cranberry juice in recipes at a 1:1 ratio.

Since cranberry juice is sweet on its own, it is suggested to cook with a version that doesn’t contain added sugar. Otherwise, the recipe may taste sweeter than what you intended.

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Additionally, you can reduce the sweetness of cranberry juice by mixing it with a tablespoon or two of vinegar before adding it to recipes.

Cranberry juice may also have some health benefits. It has been studied for its ability to reduce the occurrence of urinary tract infections and is also rich in antioxidants that combat disease-causing inflammation.

Summary: Cranberry juice has several properties similar to red wine, so it makes a great non-alcoholic replacement for red wine in cooking.

4. Ginger ale

Ginger ale is a carbonated soft drink flavored with ginger. It typically contains a few other ingredients, including lemon, lime, and cane sugar.

Due to its similar appearance, ginger ale can be a replacement for white wine in cooking. You can substitute ginger ale for white wine in equal amounts.

The acidity of ginger ale makes it a great meat tenderizer, which means that it breaks down the proteins in meat, making it softer and easier to chew.

Keep in mind the flavor differences between ginger ale and white wine. Although they have similar dry and sweet tastes, ginger ale should only be used in recipes that will work well with a slight ginger flavor.

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Summary: Ginger ale may replace white wine in cooking as a result of its similar acidity and sweet taste.

5. Red or white grape juice

Grape juice is another beverage with a rich flavor profile that makes an excellent non-alcoholic substitute for wine.

Since wine and grape juice have almost identical flavors and colors, you can replace wine with grape juice in recipes at a 1:1 ratio. Naturally, white grape juice should be used in place of white wine, and red grape juice in place of red wine.

For less sweetness, you can add a bit of vinegar to grape juice, which will enhance the acidity and increase the tartness. Grape juice combined with vinegar also makes a great marinade for meat or vegetables.

Not only is grape juice useful in cooking, but it’s also rich in polyphenol antioxidants.

These have been studied for their potential to boost immune health and may lower some heart disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure.

Summary: Since grape juice and wine have similar colors and flavors, grape juice can be used to replace wine at a 1:1 ratio in recipes.

6. Chicken, beef, or vegetable stock

Chicken, beef, and vegetable stocks or broths are liquids that are used as a base for many types of dishes, including soups and sauces.

Stock is made by simmering animal bones, meat, seafood, or vegetables in water. Vegetable scraps, spices, and herbs are often added to increase the flavor of stock, and it is generally used to simmer and tenderize meat.

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Due to its similar function in cooking, stock is an excellent non-alcoholic substitute for wine.

Since beef broth has a deeper color and flavor, it works best as a replacement for red wine. On the other hand, chicken and vegetable broths are better replacements for white wine.

Depending on your desired flavor and use in a recipe, you can replace wine with stock at an equal ratio. However, it is important to note that stock is savory, much less acidic, and has a mild flavor compared to wine.

If you are aiming for extra flavor, or need to tenderize meat in a recipe, it is useful to add one tablespoon of vinegar per cup of stock in the dish.

Summary: Chicken, beef, and vegetable stock may be an effective replacement for wine in recipes, due to their similar function in cooking.

7. Apple juice

Apple juice is a sweet beverage that makes an excellent addition to a variety of recipes.

The sweetness and light color of apple juice makes it a great non-alcoholic substitute for white wine in cooking. White wine can be replaced with apple juice in recipes at a 1:1 ratio.

It is worth mentioning that apple juice works best as a wine replacement when a recipe calls for only a small amount of wine. Otherwise, you may not achieve the flavor that you were aiming for.

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Similar to other types of juice, you can add some vinegar to apple juice to add extra acidity and flavor to the recipe. Apple juice is an excellent addition to sauces used to marinate lighter dishes.

Summary: Apple juice is a great non-alcoholic substitute for white wine because of its similar flavor and color.

8. Lemon juice

Lemon juice has a sour flavor and is a key ingredient in many different recipes.

Adding lemon juice to dishes is an excellent way to enhance flavors, especially if you are aiming for a tangy taste. Lemon juice is acidic, so it may be added to marinades to help tenderize meat.

As a result of their similar functions, you can use lemon juice instead of white wine in cooking. However, lemon juice is quite tart and should not replace white wine equally, to avoid it overpowering the taste of your food.

Before adding it to recipes, lemon juice should be diluted with equal parts water.

For example, if a recipe calls for one cup of white wine, you should replace it with half a cup of lemon juice mixed with half a cup of water.

Lemon juice is also rich in nutrients. Just half a cup provides 94% of your daily needs for vitamin C, in addition to some potassium, B vitamins, vitamin E, and magnesium.

Summary: Lemon juice is an excellent way to add flavor and acidity to dishes, so it makes a great non-alcoholic replacement for white wine in cooking.

9. Liquid from canned mushrooms

When mushrooms are canned, they are mixed with a liquid that absorbs some of their flavors.

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One way to use the liquid from canned mushrooms is as a non-alcoholic substitute for red wine in cooking. Since mushrooms have a savory taste, it is suggested to use the liquid in savory dishes.

However, if you are aiming for a sweeter flavor in a recipe, it may be helpful to mix the canned mushroom liquid with cranberry, pomegranate, or grape juice.

For example, if the recipe calls for two cups of red wine, you can replace it with a combination of one cup of canned mushroom liquid with one cup of cranberry juice.

Additionally, note that canned mushrooms and the liquid can be high in sodium. If you want to control the sodium content of your recipes, make sure to choose low-sodium canned mushrooms.

Summary: Canned mushroom liquid is an excellent replacement for red wine in cooking, especially in savory dishes.

10. Tomato juice

Tomato juice has an acidic and somewhat bitter flavor. It is added to several types of recipes to enhance flavor profiles.

You can use tomato juice as a substitute for red wine in cooking, due to its similar acidity and color. Depending on the flavor you are aiming for, tomato juice can be used in place of red wine at a 1:1 ratio.

Since tomato juice is bitter on its own, it may be useful to mix it with fruit juice if you want to sweeten up a recipe. It works well in recipes that require marinating.

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Tomato juice tastes quite different from wine, so it may be beneficial to taste test when cooking with it to ensure you are achieving your desired flavor.

Not only is tomato juice a great cooking ingredient, but it is also healthy. One cup (237 ml) provides over 20 different nutrients, including 74% of your daily needs for vitamin C and 22% for vitamin A.

Furthermore, it is rich in the antioxidant lycopene, which has been studied for its potential to reduce the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer.

Summary: Tomato juice is acidic and has a similar color to red wine, thus making it a great non-alcoholic substitute for red wine in cooking.

11. Water

If you don’t have any of the previously listed ingredients on hand, you can simply use water to replace wine in cooking.

While water won’t contribute any flavor, color, or acidity to the recipe, it provides liquid, which will prevent the dish from turning out drier than you intended.

If you have regular vinegar or sugar available, you can mix this with water to help enhance the flavor.

As for quantities, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup vinegar, and 1 tablespoon sugar is a useful mixture to use as a 1:1 substitute. Nevertheless, you may need to alter this depending on what you’re making.

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Summary: Water contributes liquid to recipes, so can be used to replace wine in cooking. However, it does not contribute any flavor, color, or acidity.

Summary

Several non-alcoholic ingredients have properties similar to wine and can be used as substitutes for wine in cooking.

Some ingredients, such as grape juice, may replace wine equally in recipes, while others may need to be mixed with other ingredients to make an effective substitute.

It is important to keep your desired flavor in mind when you are replacing wine in recipes. For example, if you are looking for a sweet taste, it is best to use a sweet ingredient.

Also, you may find it helpful to do a taste test when replacing wine in cooking, to ensure you are achieving your desired flavor in a dish.

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