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If someone cannot or will not use wine for cooking, what would be a good substitute?

Question applies to both red and white wine.

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If the reason is possible alcohol exposure, be aware that in any recipe in which the wine is cooked, the alcohol content is quite low because the alcohol boils away. Alcohol boils evaporates at a much lower temperature than water, so even a couple of minutes of simmering on low temp will boil most of the alcohol off. –  tomjedrz Jul 17 '10 at 5:06
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@tomjedrz : Boiling off alcohol is a myth. Your only good way is to reduce the alcohol before any other liquid is added. See cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/659/cooking-away-alcohol/… –  Joe Jul 17 '10 at 8:25

6 Answers 6

up vote 10 down vote accepted

For white wine, try:

  • chicken broth/stock
  • vegetable stock
  • white grape juice
  • ginger ale
  • canned mushroom liquid
  • diluted white wine or cider vinegar

For red wine, try:

  • beef or chicken broth/stock
  • diluted red wine vinegar
  • red grape juice
  • tomato juice
  • canned mushroom liquid

A great list of substitutions for cooking with various alcoholic ingredients may be found here.

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8  
You often don't want to use just one replacement -- eg, a mix of fruit juice (apple, grape) and stock will give you some of the fruitiness you'd have gotten from the wine without being overpowering. With possibly a splash of cider vinegar or lemon juice to brighten up the flavors. –  Joe Jul 17 '10 at 8:30

You can replace the moisture provided by wine with just about any flavorful liquid, but you won't replicate the flavor. Vinegars will be the closest, but they are much more acidic. Stocks and broths can help boost flavor, but they will bring with them a lot of sodium. The list goes on, as shown by the other contributors here.

The main thing to be mindful of is what these substitutions bring with them (acidity, salt, sweetness, etc) and compensate for it by adding or subtracting other ingredients. Add a bit of sugar to offset the acidity of vinegar or backoff on the salt when adding stock. Substitutions are an advanced skill, sometimes even a black art, and this is why.

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Beef/Chicken/Veggie stock would do well. If making dressing (wine vinegar) then some citrus based juice.

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Apple juice can replace small quantities of white wine quite well. Although it will definitely taste cider-y if you use lots.

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Since we don't drink alcohol at home, I don't ever have real wine at home. I do keep a bottle of vermouth (Martini Rosso specifically) to use a substitute for red wine sometimes. Use about 1/3 of the amount of wine you'd use.

I also use Balsamic vinegar works well if you're making a thick sauce or casserole.

As for white wines, I don't cook things that require it often. When I do I'll usually use a combination of Mirin (japanese rice thingy) and some sugar.

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Depending on the recipe, verjuice (or verjus), which is widely available in Mediterranean shops, can work very nicely. In some applications, it may be necessary to dilute, as it's basically very tart grape juice.

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