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When cooking, you will frequently see white wine used as an ingredient in a lot of sauces and similar dishes. White wine vinegar can also be found but white wine itself is incredibly popular. However, if you do not have any or you are against drinking/using it, you will be wanting to find white wine substitutes to help you out.
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Why Is White Wine Used In Cooking?
White wine is often used in cooking as you can impart a lot of the flavors from the wine into the dish. It is a great ingredient to use when it comes to deglazing a pan you have fried some meat in and can also be used to add a lot of acidity to a dish that may be lacking that flavor.
While the whine may be alcoholic when drank from the bottle or poured into a glass, using it in cooking removes the alcohol content from your wine so that you do not get drunk at all if you consume it.
The alcohol is evaporated into the air when the wine is cooked and reaches a temperature that is high enough to do this. If you are still not wanting to use wine in cooking because of the alcohol, it will be easy to find a non-alcoholic substitute as alcohol-free wine has become increasingly popular.
While a good substitute may not be as good as the real thing, they sure come close. All we are wanting from this substitute is a nice touch of acidity and the addition of some extra flavor.
White Wine Substitutes
While cooking wine can be easy to find and use in regard to pairing with your dish, the substitutes are less straightforward when it comes to knowing how to pair them. If a recipe calls for white wine, it will normally explain what sort of wine will be the best choice.
The recipe may say for instance that the main flavors of the dish will pair nicely with dry white wine or fruity white wine. When it comes to substitutes, there may not be as many choices for ingredients that can have both the acidic and fruity flavors that the wine has.
White Wine Vinegar
One of the main substitutes you will see used in place of white wine is white wine vinegar. As you can tell by the name, this will resemble the flavors and profiles of white wine incredibly closely. This is best used when your recipe is wanting you to use a dry white wine.
The vinegar will bring the acidic and dry profile of the wine into this dish without using actual wine. The vinegar was made with some white wine but it has been so processed and cooked that it no longer has any alcohol content at all. It is recommended to be cautious when cooking with white wine vinegar as it is a lot more acidic than the white wine is, therefore it is best to use 3/4 of the recommended amount and then dilute it with the 1/4 that is missing.
If you are still not certain that this will help, a 50/50 dilution will also work without making your vinegar lose all flavor and acidity.
Apple Cider Vinegar
If you are wanting to match both the acidity and the fruitiness of the wine your recipe has called for, then apple cider vinegar is the best choice. The vinegar is perfectly sweet and acidic without the two combating each other. The two flavors work in harmony and create a very well-balanced substitute.
When it comes to ratios and the dilution, apple cider vinegar is very simple. There is no dilution needed and you can use the exact same amount of apple cider vinegar as you would with wine. It is a perfect 1:1 ratio as the vinegar is not so dry that it would unbalance the meal.
While it may not have the same flavors as white wine, the broth will still help you add flavor to your dish while also keeping the consistency very close to the original recipe. When wine is added, the water content of the dish is increased. Without the wine, the dish will be less watery which is not good if you are following a recipe. The broth will make up for that loss and also add its own flavor to the dish, even if it is not the same flavor, it will still help.
You can use the same amount of broth as you would white wine, in a 1:1 ratio. The broth does not have to be chicken broth, it could be vegetable broth instead. Check your broth to see what the salt levels are like as this may add salt to your dish, if it does, be careful when adding additional salt as this could end up being too much.
As apple juice is a very sweet liquid, it fits perfectly in place of sweet white wine in a recipe. It can easily be used as a replacement and will impart a strong flavor to the dish. While it is sweet enough to work, it is actually sweeter than wine. Because of this, it would help to dilute the apple juice with a bit of vinegar or lemon juice to add to the acidity and help it match the dish more elegantly.
If you are focusing solely on the acidic flavors that the dish requires, then lemon juice will be very helpful to use. Lime juice can also be used but lemon is preferable. When using lemon juice like this, it is best to use the lemon juice in a ration with water of 1:3. The three parts of water will dilute the lemon juice so that it is still sour and acidic but not so much that it ruins the dish.
White Grape Juice
If you are trying to stay as close as possible to the flavor of white wine, then white grape juice is the best choice. This is essentially unfermented white wine and will have all the flavors that you are looking for. However, it is also a lot sweeter than white wine as the fermenting process removes a lot of the sweetness from the end product.
To counter the overly-sweet flavor of the juice, you can mix it with some lemon juice or white wine vinegar as this will cut through the sugar and add a more acidic flavor to it. This can be 1/4 lemon juice to 3/4 white grape juice, the recipe will still work brilliantly and may even seem unaltered.
While it may seem unorthodox to add ale to a dish that requires wine, it works so well. Ginger ale is a non-alcoholic drink that has the same dry and sweet flavors that white wine has. While on their own, ginger ale and white wine seem very different, once used in a recipe you can swap them out for each other in a 1:1 ratio.
Using water might seem weird as it has no flavor, and this is true. Water is completely flavorless yet still works as a good white wine substitute as it keeps the water content of the dish close to what it is meant to be. While the flavor the wine adds is not there, the dish will still be just as watery as it is meant to be if you still added the same amount of a liquid.
While the flavor will not be enhanced, the dish will still be fine. You can use 3/4 of the white wine amount as you want to avoid watering down your flavors. Extra seasoning may be useful to help flavor the dish more and a splash of lemon juice will also help keep the acidity in balance.
Should I Use A Substitute Instead Of White Wine?
If you are adamant that you do not want to use white wine, you can of course use any of the substitutes listed. White wine is the best way to replicate a recipe as it is what was initially used. Some chefs refuse to use anything but white wine in dishes that need them such as risotto. While the substitutes are fine to use, just remember that you cannot use red wine in place of white wine. If a recipe calls for white wine you will not be able to replicate this with any type of red wine as they have very different flavor profiles.
If you are interested in the uses of white wine in cooking, you can read our article about what wines pair well with ham.