What can I use Instead of Red Wine in Sauce?

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “what can I use instead of red wine in sauce?” and provide you with insights on how to enhance your dishes with different types of condiments to constitute the required flavor.

What can I use instead of red wine in sauce?

You can use red wine vinegar, grape juice, and mushroom brine instead of red wine in sauce.

All the above mentioned liquids help in adding flavour and a little boujee touch to the sauces and could be substituted if you prefer a more subtle flavor or are allergic or avoid alcohol.

What does red wine do in a sauce?

Red wine is used as a very common flavor enhancer in dishes specifically by chefs all around the world. It is used to fortify the actual flavor of the dish.

For a sauce, red wine contributes to the beautiful aroma of it. The kind of aroma that attracts anyone and makes any tastebud water instantly. It also acts as a flavor enhancer. It does not add its own flavor but it just boosts the actual taste of the complimenting ingredients.

How do I cook with wine?

One of the main reasons to cook with wine is to add acidity to a dish, which in turn brings out other flavors. But because wine also contains alcohol, you usually add it at the start of cooking so the alcohol has a chance to burn off. 

Splashing wine into a dish at the end of cooking usually results in an unpleasant raw-wine taste. And warm temperatures accentuate acidity and alcohol, which makes it even trickier to use wine well. 

Nor are all wines right for all foods; a very tannic red, for example, would turn chalky in a pan-sauce reduction. 

Learning how to handle wine and heat, as well as learning which wines work best in cooking, opens up loads of new cooking possibilities.

The substitutes of red wine in a sauce include

Red Wine Vinegar

Vinegar is an excellent substitute for red wine because of its acidity or sourness. The acidity helps tenderize or soften meat.

Red wine vinegar is the best option among all the other different kinds of vinegar because the flavor profile and color are similar to that of red wine. This is because red wine vinegar is made by completely fermenting red wine.

However, apple cider vinegar and even regular rice vinegar is a good substitute for red wine as well.  Make sure you dilute the vinegar with stock or juice.

Vinegar’s acidity and sharp taste make it a common ingredient. If your recipe needs just a spoon or two of red wine for deglazing or in a marinade, you can replace it with an equal amount of vinegar.

On the other hand, if the recipe calls for more than a quarter cup of red wine, substituting it for an equal portion of vinegar will result in an overly sour dish.

Soups, stews, and slow-cooking pasta sauces often need up to half a cup of wine. In that case, substitute it with a 1:1 ratio of beef or chicken stock and add two tablespoons of vinegar.

Grape Juice

Research. Red grape juice is an almost perfect substitute for red wine because they look and taste very similar. Unsweetened red grape juice has a tart and sour taste, not unlike wine.

However, even the unsweetened version may be a little too sweet, so add a dash of vinegar to the juice. This will give it some of that aged depth that you get with wine.

If you want to substitute grape juice for red wine, Just replace the wine with an equal amount of grape juice and a spoon of vinegar. However, in sauces, it is better not to add a lot of it as it can overpower the dish.

On the other hand, if you’re making pasta sauce, it would be best to avoid red grape juice. The juice is too sweet for marinara or bolognese. Furthermore, the overly fruity flavor of the juice would not go well with delicate, tomato-based sauces.

Mushroom Brine

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

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.

Canned mushroom liquid is an excellent replacement for red wine in cooking, especially in savory dishes. It is particularly perfect for savoury sauces.

Other FAQs about Wine that you may be interested in.

What is the best smooth red wine?

How long does red wine last after vacuum sealed?

Can red wine cause black stools?

Can you freeze champagne?


In this brief article, we answered the question, “what can I use instead of red wine in sauce?” and provided you with insights on how to enhance your dishes with different types of condiments to constitute the required flavor.