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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
@tomjedrz : Boiling off alcohol is a myth. Your only good way is to reduce the alcohol before any other liquid is added. See… – Joe Jul 17 '10 at 8:25
With respect to cooking alcohol away, if someone is a recovering alcoholic, even a small amount is enough to cause a problem. Better to err on the side of caution and use a substitute. – user41677 Dec 16 '15 at 18:29

11 Answers 11

up vote 19 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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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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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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I just saw verjus on Chopped. I had never heard of it. I'm not a big fan of red wine, I bet red verjus would be great for me in a lot of recipes. – Jolenealaska Oct 19 '14 at 21:54

I'm in the same position (no alcohol at home), but I'm kind of a foodie.

I've never found any luck with any of the ingredients listed above (I still need to try the Balsamic Vinegar trick). Not only is the flavor just not the same, most of the time it's just wrong. After searching for many years, I stumbled across Meier's Sparkling Grape Juice.

They seem to work well for me for many recipes. They have a Chablis, Spumante, and a Burgundy. I'm sure there are still differences, but these are far superior to things like vegetable stock, ginger ale, vinegar, and plain old red/white grape juice. Some supermarkets stock it, or you can order it online.

I'm still looking for a dry red wine substitute, as well as Marsala, but these have really helped and I buy them by the case now.

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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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I use Regina Red Wine Vinegar or the Regina White Wine Vinegar and Maruchan Seasoned Rice Vinegar. Even though I use red wine vinegar, I don't think it qualifies as "wine". There are also other brands of red and white wine vinegars, you can use in the vinegar section.

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For white wine, white vermouth works quite well, particularly in things like risotto. Keeps well in the fridge for weeks or months after opening. Dry vermouth is a better substitute than sweet IMO. Sweet will work but it changes the flavour somewhat.

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(Since I just posted this on a similar question) The similar question was asked for a substitute because the OP was not savvy about wine, not because they objected to alcohol.

Instead of buying wine in a tall, dark glass wine bottle, you can also buy a small bottle of cooking wine that will keep for a very long time. I use this brand, and have one red and one white in my cupboard. I usually have a good wine bottle of each in the fridge for this purpose too.

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If you're okay with alcohol and just want something shelf-stable, the more common recommendations are fortified wines like sherry and vermouth. I haven't tried that particular brand, but cooking wines in general aren't always the best flavor, and have a lot of salt added that you may not want (yours does say 1.5% salt). – Jefromi Mar 3 at 17:50
I wouldn't use sherry or vermouth for recipes with a simpler palate. They are both very strong. I default to what's in my fridge for something like this, which would not have such a big body (like Moscato or Chianti). I do use sherry and vermouth. I think they have their place. I do see what you mean about the salt content. Didn't realize that. It's probably why it keeps for so long in the cupboard. – Jason P Sallinger Mar 3 at 17:55

I work in a group home and alcohol is not allowed on the property at all. A beef stroganoff recipe that I wanted to try called for some red wine. I substituted some cherry juice from canned cherries with some apple cider vinegar. It turned out amazing!!!!!

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