Cooking substitutions 101 … white wine

Wine is a common ingredient in casseroles, soups, stews, risottos, desserts, and sauces. Usually it is added to a recipe and reduced by simmering or boiling to burn off the alcohol and concentrate the flavour. But what do you do if you don’t have wine, or you prefer not to use it in your cooking? Is it possible to achieve the same depth of flavour that wine offers with other ingredients? The answer is “yes”, there are substitutes that you can use that will yield excellent results. Let’s take a look at some of the options.

Other types of alcohol

Obviously if you don’t want to use alcohol this is not the solution for you, so please jump down to the next section.

If you’re out of white wine, sparkling wine is an excellent substitute, as is a lightly coloured rosé. Vermouth is also an option, but only in recipes where you are using a small quantity, otherwise it can overpower the other flavours in the dish. Red wine can be used as a substitute, but it will affect the colour of the dish so decide if you’re prepared to eat pink risotto before you splash it in.

Apple Juice

Apple juice is an excellent replacement for sweet white wine, although it should be balanced with a splash of acidity from vinegar or lemon juice to balance it out.

Apple Cider Vinegar

This is probably the best substitute for white wine of all. It has a similar flavour profile with the acidity and subtle sweetness of wine. You can do a direct swap here using the same amount of apple cider vinegar as you would wine.

White Wine Vinegar

Another good option, white wine vinegar is good as a replacement for dry white wine. It is much more acidic than white wine though so it should be diluted with water or stock. Use a ratio of 50% white wine vinegar to 50% water or stock.

Chicken or Vegetable stock

You will get flavour from stock but it lacks the acidity of white wine. Splash in some lemon juice to get a flavour closer to that of wine.


If you don’t have any of the previous options available to you, water is better than nothing. Although it won’t help with the flavour of the recipe, it will help to stop your dish from drying out by keeping the liquid balance of the recipe intact.

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