3 Best Substitutes for Red Wine Vinegar

Cup of red wine vinegar

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Vinegar is a polarizing ingredient, but it is an important one. In large amounts, vinegar can be off-putting due to its pungent aroma and sour taste. However, the acidity and bitterness of vinegar help balance out other flavors in many dishes, especially vinaigrettes, salad dressings, and pickling recipes. Because it is usually consumed in small quantities, its flavor is not overwhelming but noticeable when missing.

There are many types of vinegar, each with its own unique flavor profile. Red wine vinegar has one of the more pleasant flavors. Made from fermented red wine, it is subtly sweet. It also adds a bit of tang to recipes. Like the name suggests, red wine vinegar has a red or pink hue to it, differentiating it from white wine vinegar.

If you do have red wine vinegar, you can try these vinegar substitutes. Naturally, other vinegar makes for suitable red wine vinegar alternatives, so they also can be used at a one-to-one ratio in most instances. Here is what you need to know about using a substitute.

Why Use an Alternative?

Red wine vinegar is among the most common types of vinegar. It is relatively easy to find and affordable. In the case you have simply run out of red wine vinegar, try reaching for one of these substitutions instead.

Those who have wine allergies may seek an alternative to red wine vinegar. It is made from fermented red wine, which may spark an allergic reaction. Wine allergies act similarly to food allergies and can include asthma, nasal congestion, skin rashes, and nausea.

One explanation for wine allergies is the presence of sulfites. Sulfites may be added to red wines used to make red wine vinegar for preservation. An estimated 10% of people has allergies to wine, particularly red wine.

Between all the types of vinegar—distilled white, apple cider, balsamic, rice, and white wine vinegar to name a few—vinegar may take up a lot of space in your pantry. If you have other types of vinegar on hand, you may prefer to reach for one of those rather than purchasing another bottle of vinegar. Using small amounts from a standard bottle means you probably will not have to buy vinegar often, especially because it has a long shelf life.

Red Wine Vinegar Nutrition Facts

This nutrition information for 1 tablespoon (14.9 grams) of red wine vinegar is provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 2.83
  • Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 0.04g
  • Sugar: 0g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Protein: 0.006g
  • Sodium: 0mg

Most red wine vinegar is made with similar ingredients, but the nutritional values may vary depending on the manufacturer. Red wine vinegar is consumed in small quantities, so it is not a significant source of nutrients, and small variations between brands are unlikely to greatly affect the overall nutrition profile of the recipe.

Popular Substitutes

Other types of vinegar can make excellent swaps for red wine vinegar because they have a similar flavor profile and liquid consistency. In most recipes, they can be substituted in equal amounts.

White Wine Vinegar

In terms of flavor similarity, white wine vinegar is likely the best substitute for red wine vinegar. Both are made from fermented wines—red wine vinegar from red wine and white wine vinegar from white wine. While there are different notes and aromas in the wines, their vinegar is more similar to each other than those made from other ingredients, such as rice vinegar.

Both white wine vinegar and red wine vinegar have slightly sweet flavors. White wine vinegar has a more fruity flavor while red wine is tangier. This minor difference in flavor is unlikely to significantly alter the overall recipe, however.

These types of vinegar also differ in terms of color. Despite this difference, they can be used interchangeably in most cases.

Balsamic Vinegar

Vinegar is a crucial component of many salad dressings, but there is one type of vinegar that reigns supreme when it comes to salad dressings and that is balsamic vinegar. If you have ever had balsamic vinaigrette, you have enjoyed balsamic vinegar, which is made from grape must—the resulting juices of pressed grapes that are then boiled, fermented, and sometimes aged.

Red wine and balsamic vinegar are both made from fermented grapes, giving them both a noticeably sweet advantage over other types of vinegar. However, balsamic vinegar has a richer and more complex flavor, and it is less acidic.

Most vinegar has a tartness, but both red wine and balsamic vinegar are balanced with sweetness, making one a suitable substitute for the other in equal amounts. What's more, the flavor distinctions are not very noticeable.

Sherry Vinegar

Sherry is a type of Spanish wine, and fermenting it produces sherry vinegar. In that respect, red wine vinegar and sherry vinegar have a common origin.

If you enjoy the sweetness of red wine vinegar, you may appreciate that of sherry vinegar. It is even sweeter than red wine vinegar, and it also has a more mild taste. You may need to use more sherry vinegar to get the same tart effect of red wine vinegar, but this could result in too much sweetness. 

A Word From Verywell

Red wine vinegar is a staple ingredient for making salad dressings, vinaigrettes, marinades, pickling recipes, and much more. It is a common household ingredient but not as common as other types of vinegar, such as balsamic vinegar and distilled white vinegar. It is considered a more palatable vinegar because it has a slightly sweet flavor, though it also offers a tang to help balance out other flavors in cooking.

If you need a substitute for red wine vinegar, consider other types of vinegar. White wine vinegar is an ideal one-to-one alternative for red wine vinegar because both are made from fermented wine. Whether you have wine allergies, sulfite sensitivities, or simply don’t have red wine vinegar on hand, you may have success with these substitutes that have a similar consistency, flavor, and nutrition profile.

2 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Wüthrich B. Allergic and intolerance reactions to wine. Allergol Select. 2018 Sep 1;2(1):80-88. doi:10.5414/ALX01420E PMID:31826033

  2. USDA, FoodData Central. Vinegar, red wine.

By Lacey Muinos
Lacey Muinos is a professional writer who specializes in fitness, nutrition, and health.