Non-Alcoholic Red Wine Substitutes

Red Wine
Red Wine. Tasty art Ltd/Rob White/Getty Images

Cooking for someone who doesn't drink alcohol, and need a good stand in for the red wine called for in a recipe? One of these non-alcoholic substitutes should do the trick.

  • Beef Broth: Replace the red wine called for in your recipe with an equal amount of beef broth. This will contribute both flavor and color to the recipe. Chicken broth or vegetable broth can also be used, if that's all you have on hand. But beef broth is definitely the better choice. One thing to note about this sub: Beef broth isn't anywhere near as acidic as red wine. So, if the wine is being added to a recipe to tenderize meat, you should probably add some white vinegar along with the broth. For the best results, add a splash of vinegar to your measuring cup; then, add broth, until you reach the amount called for. One teaspoon of vinegar per cup of broth is a good rule of thumb.
  • Red Grape Juice: If you want that red wine taste and color, without the addition of alcohol, substitute red grape juice for the red wine in your recipe. You can do an even one-to-one swap, but for even better results, include a splash of white vinegar with your grape juice. This will cut back on the sweetness some, so it has more of that aged depth that you get with wine, and it'll also up the meat-tenderizing abilities of your substitute. Vinegar is an excellent tenderizer.
  • Unsweetened Cranberry Juice: While not as good as red grape juice, cranberry juice is still an acceptable substitute for red wine in recipes. Just be sure to use the unsweetened (100% juice) kind. Cranberry juice cocktail will probably add too much sweetness to your recipe. As with the broth and red grape juice substitutes, it's a good idea to add a bit of white vinegar to your cranberry juice to dial down the sweetness.

    Can You Substitute Red Wine Vinegar for Red Wine?

    As the name suggests, red wine vinegar is made from red wine, but the two have very little in common flavor-wise. Red wine has sweeter notes, while red wine vinegar is more biting and acidic. Because of these differences, it doesn't work very well to substitute one for the other.

    Stick to one of the substitutes suggested above, if you want your recipe to come out right.

    More Alcohol Substitutes to Try

    If you can't cook with alcohol, or prefer not to, be sure to check out these other articles about substituting alcohol.

    Still More Ingredient Substitutions

    Before you go back to your recipe, take a second to bookmark or favorite my full ingredient substitution list. It has all the information you need to keep your recipes on track, when you run out of an ingredient, or find yourself needing to work around a food allergy or preference.