Best Substitutes for Sherry Vinegar

bottles of vinegar on a table / Getty Images

No doubt, you have a bottle of balsamic vinegar in your kitchen and you may even have some apple cider vinegar too. But, like most home cooks, you probably don’t have a bottle of sherry vinegar.

Professional chefs consider sherry vinegar a quintessential ingredient. Less acidic than other types of vinegar with a more well-rounded flavor, sherry vinegar is used to make vinaigrettes, marinades, and sauces.

If you are trying a new marinade recipe that calls for sherry vinegar and you are all out, don’t worry. There are other kinds of vinegar you can use that make a good substitute for this often overlooked vinegar.

About Sherry Vinegar

Derived from the French word for sour wine, vinegar is created when acetic bacteria combine with water and alcohol, allowing the vinegar to ferment. Though you can turn many foods into vinegar—apples, rice, or grains—the substance all started with wine.

Sherry vinegar is made from sherry wine, which is a special type of wine made from a variety of grapes that come from the Jerez region of Spain. Sherry is a fortified wine with a high alcohol content valued for its unique flavor and characteristics.

The unique flavors associated with sherry vinegar and sherry wine are due to the aging process. Both are aged in barrels stacked one on top of another in tiers, with the oldest vinegar (or wine) on the bottom and the youngest on top.

Specific amounts of vinegar are removed from the bottom barrel at set intervals. Then, vinegar from the tier above is poured into the barrel beneath it to “top it off.” This happens with each tier.

Sherry vinegar is aged in wooden barrels anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. This aging process gives sherry vinegar a deep amber color with a mildly acidic, nutty, and woody flavor.

Sherry Vinegar Nutrition Facts

Sherry vinegar is not a significant source of calories or nutrients. Nutrition information for 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) of sherry vinegar comes from the USDA.

  • Calories: 5
  • Fat: 0
  • Sodium: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 0
  • Protein: 0

Though sherry vinegar may not be a significant source of any essential nutrients, it adds flavor to food without adding extra calories, sodium, or fat.

Why You May Need a Sherry Vinegar Substitute

There are many reasons you might need a sherry vinegar substitute. First, you may not have a bottle of sherry vinegar in your kitchen.

Though fairly inexpensive, you may use other types of vinegar more often, and not even think of picking up a bottle “just in case.” Of course, your grocery store may not carry this particular type of vinegar if, like you, other shoppers don’t buy it. 

You may also be searching for a substitute for sherry vinegar if you have an allergy or intolerance to wine. According to a review article published in Allergologie Select, wine allergies and intolerances are common.

Though it’s not clear what component in wine causes an allergic reaction, it is theorized that it may be due to a protein in the grape. Mold, yeast, and other proteins may also cause allergies. Like any food allergy, avoiding the food is the best way to prevent an allergic reaction. 

You may also have concerns about using sherry vinegar if you have an intolerance to wine, which may cause flushing or a rash. This intolerance may be triggered by alcohol or some other component, like sulfites, which is a by-product of the fermentation process. 

Though made from a high-alcohol wine, sherry vinegar has very little alcohol. Still, if you or someone you are cooking for cannot have alcohol due to an allergy or an alcohol abuse disorder, you may want to substitute sherry vinegar with lemon juice or another alcohol-free option depending on the recipe. If you have questions about what you can and cannot eat, talk to a healthcare provider. 

Best Substitutes for Sherry Vinegar

Chefs may like sherry vinegar because of its flavor and color, but there are plenty of suitable substitutes. Here are some common go-to alternatives for sherry vinegar.

Rice Vinegar

Made from fermented rice, rice vinegar is a sweet, mildly acidic vinegar that makes a good substitute for sherry vinegar. Though it’s not as colorful as the sherry vinegar, the flavor of the rice vinegar is similar.

Just make sure you are using an unseasoned rice vinegar as your substitute. According to nutrition information from the USDA, rice vinegar is calorie-free and not a source of any vitamins or minerals.

Wine Vinegar

Red and white wine vinegar also make a good substitute for sherry vinegar. However, white wine vinegar is less acidic than the red and makes a better substitute.

When using red wine vinegar in a recipe, some people start with a little less than the amount needed for the sherry vinegar. You will need to adjust as you go, but there’s no need to alter your recipe when using white wine vinegar. Based on the nutrition information from the USDA, red wine vinegar and white wine vinegar are calorie-free. 

Apple Cider Vinegar

Even though you may not have sherry vinegar, you might have a bottle of apple cider vinegar. Though there are some studies that show apple cider vinegar may benefit your health, the evidence is limited. Apple cider vinegar makes a good vinaigrette, but it is not a cure-all.

Made from fermented apples, apple cider vinegar has a sweet and moderately acidic flavor. When substituting for sherry vinegar, you may want to use a little less of the apple cider vinegar due to the acidity and the apple flavor. Adjust the amount based on your personal taste and preferences.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is an acidic juice often used in place of vinegar in recipes and can work as a substitute for sherry vinegar. However, because lemon juice is slightly more acidic than sherry vinegar, add small amounts at a time, tasting as you go to get the flavor you want.

Keep in mind, lemon juice will impart a stronger flavor, so it will have a profound impact on the taste of your dish, essentially changing the flavor profile. You may want to use this alternative only in a pinch and try to use one of the milder substitutes if the recipe calls for a significant amount of sherry vinegar.

Like sherry vinegar, lemon juice is low in calories. Though not a significant source of any essential nutrient, lemon juice has more vitamins and minerals than sherry vinegar. 

A Word From Verywell

If you are looking for a substitute for sherry vinegar, there are a number of options at your disposal. From rice vinegar and white wine vinegar to lemon juice and apple cider vinegar, you have some tasty choices.

Plus, many can be substituted on a one-to-one ratio. Just be sure to go slow with your substitution amounts in case you want a different flavor than what your substitute can provide.

7 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. Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. Vinegar.

  2. Vinegra de Jerez. Sherry vinegar.

  3. USDA, FoodData Central. Reserve sherry vinegar.

  4. Wüthrich B. Allergic and intolerance reactions to wine. Allergol Select. 2018;2(1):80-88. Published 2018 Sep 1. doi:10.5414/ALX01420E

  5. Bansal RA, Tadros S, Bansal AS. Beer, cider, and wine allergy. Case Reports in Immunology. Vol. 2017, Article ID 7958924, 4 pages, 2017. doi:10.1155/2017/7958924

  6. USDA, FoodData Central. Rice vinegar.

  7. Kohn JB. Is vinegar an effective treatment for glycemic control or weight loss?. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2015;115(7):1188. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2015.05.010

Additional Reading

By Jill Corleone, RD
Jill is a registered dietitian who's been learning and writing about nutrition for more than 20 years.