If you're searching through your pantry for red wine vinegar and come up empty, there are several options for substitutions you can turn to, including:
Red wine vinegar is a common ingredient in marinades for various types of meat, vinaigrette salad dressings, and pickling. It's sour and highly acidic, with its flavor ranging from tangy to sharp depending on the quality of the product.
Apple cider vinegar is a fruity, healthy option and works best as a substitute for vinaigrettes. Begin by adding a smaller portion than the recipe calls for and keep adding until you reach your desired flavor. If it still tastes off, try adding a splash of red wine to mix in. For salad dressings, it's recommended to use 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon of red wine for every 4 tablespoons of red wine vinegar the recipe calls for.
Balsamic vinegar is a favorite for Italian dishes and can be a great substitute for red wine vinegar. Though balsamic vinegar is milder and sweeter than red wine vinegar, it works well in its place when used in salad dressings. If it's beginning to turn out too sweet, try taking out additional sweeteners the recipe calls for.
Substituting lemon juice provides an accurate acidity, but won't taste the same as it would with red wine vinegar. This substitution is best to use when the recipe doesn't rely on the red wine vinegar for a specific taste, so use is in dishes when the vinegar would be overwhelmed by other flavors -- otherwise, your dish can turn out sour.
You can substitute regular red wine if the vinegar is being used for flavor purposes only. With this method, the dish will maintain the same flavor but the red wine substitute won't produce the same acidity that the red wine vinegar would. This is a good substitution to use in some marinades.
Rice vinegar has red wine vinegar's tangy taste, but a more mild flavor. Because of its subdued flavor, start by using a 1:1 ratio for substitution and adding more rice vinegar until you reach that stronger desired flavor akin to red wine vinegar.
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Sherry vinegar is commonly used in Spanish cuisine and is another popular substitute for red wine vinegar, but like apple cider vinegar it is more mild and sweet than red wine vinegar. Just as you would with apple cider vinegar, try skipping or adding a lesser amount of other sweeteners present in the recipe to try to maintain the acidic, tangy taste.
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Typically red wine vinegar has a stronger taste than white wine vinegar, but the two are identical in acidity and similar enough in taste that they can be used interchangeably on a 1:1 ratio, especially when imitating the flavor isn't important for the dish.
Mix together equal parts white vinegar and red wine for an accurate substitute. The red wine will provide a similar flavor while the white vinegar will give the dish its acidity. This can be done in almost any dish requiring red wine vinegar, including salad dressings and marinades.