Ingredient Intelligence

The 6 Best Substitutes for White Wine Vinegar

published Apr 28, 2022
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A spoon full of vinaigrette is emerging from a mason jar.
Credit: Joe Lingeman; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

If you find yourself halfway through a recipe and suddenly realize you don’t have the white wine vinegar you need, don’t fret. There are all sorts of potential replacements to use instead. The key is to choose your white wine vinegar substitute wisely. 

“It all depends on what you’re cooking,” says Jeffrey Yoskowitz, cofounder of Gefilteria. “If you’re using white wine vinegar to give a splash of acid to a dish, you can get that in a lot of different ways,” says Yoskowitz, who shared some tips on how to best substitute for white wine vinegar for different dishes below.

Made from fermented and oxidized white wine, white wine vinegar has sweet, mellow flavors and a sharp tang. It brings fruity acidity to chimichurri and béarnaise sauces, not to mention poppy seed, Italian, and classic Niçoise salad dressings.

Because the flavors of white wine vinegar are so mild, you can easily swap in other ingredients. Here are the six best white wine vinegar substitutes.

How to Substitute Rice Vinegar for White Wine Vinegar

Light-bodied rice vinegar is among the most versatile white wine vinegar substitutes. Also called rice wine vinegar, it’s made from white, brown, or black rice that’s fermented until the sugars and starches turn into alcohol and then acetic acid. 

Rice vinegar shines in just about every recipe where white wine vinegar appears, from mustard-glazed salmon and schnitzel and pear salad, to salt and vinegar cucumbers and quick-pickled baby carrots

Of note: Rice vinegar is different from seasoned rice vinegar, which has additional sugars and salts. If all you have is seasoned rice vinegar, taste a small amount straight, and then determine whether those flavors might benefit your dish. Use less salt than the recipe calls for, too, since your vinegar is already salted.

How to Substitute Apple Cider Vinegar for White Wine Vinegar

Made from fermented apple cider, apple cider vinegar packs a sour, fruity punch. 

Can you use apple cider vinegar instead of white wine vinegar with confidence? Absolutely, says Yoskowitz, who believes that both apple cider and white wine vinegars have “robust” flavors that complement similar recipes. “You’re just going to go in a little less subtle direction than if you used white wine vinegar,” he says.

Apple cider vinegar makes a great 1:1 substitution for white wine vinegar in any dish that might benefit from sour apple notes. Try it in German potato salad or warm farro salad, or use it in the pickling liquid for giardiniera or the marinade for sheet pan honey-Dijon chicken and vegetables.

How to Substitute Red Wine Vinegar for White Wine Vinegar

Red wine vinegar is made the same way as white wine vinegar, except it starts with red wine instead of white wine. Its flavor profile is similar, too, with faintly fruity notes that offset moderate acidity. 

The primary difference here is color. While white wine vinegar would blend seamlessly into a creamy salad dressing, while red wine vinegar would give it a pinkish hue. Feel free to swap equal parts of red wine vinegar in any recipe that calls for white wine vinegar — as long as you don’t mind altering the color.

How to Substitute Sherry Vinegar for White Wine Vinegar

Made from sherry, the Spanish fortified wine, sherry vinegar has warm, fruity flavors plus a slightly softer acidic bite than white wine vinegar. 

That distinction is subtle, though, so you can use sherry vinegar as a 1:1 white wine vinegar substitute. Try it in this Mediterranean-inspired lamb chops with mustard shallot sauce recipe, or in your next batch of low-sodium Bloody Marys.

How to Substitute Champagne Vinegar for White Wine Vinegar

Ooh-la-la! Champagne vinegar sounds rarified, but its major differentiator from white wine vinegar is the types of grapes in its base wine. Champagne vinegar features primarily Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, two of the grapes winemakers use in Champagne, whereas white wine vinegar can be made from any white wine grapes.

You can substitute equal amounts of Champagne vinegar for white wine vinegar in any recipe, like this warm walnut brown butter vinaigrette or creamy-yet-light fish chowder.

Plus, if you ever happen to find yourself with the lovely problem of leftover Champagne, it’s easy to make Champagne vinegar at home!

How to Substitute White Vinegar for White Wine Vinegar

In addition to being an excellent household cleaner, distilled white vinegar can serve as a white wine vinegar replacement. 

The base ingredient of distilled white vinegar is grain alcohol, so its acidity can seem harsh without the floral, fruity flavors of white wine. As a result, you’ll want to use a lighter hand here than with other white wine vinegar substitutes.

If you’re swapping white vinegar into a dressing for delicate greens, like this crunchy spring salad recipe, use 3:4 parts distilled white vinegar to white wine vinegar. For dishes with bolder flavors, like the overnight soy eggs on this caramelized onion and chile ramen, or any pickling recipe, you can make a 1:1 swap. 

Yoskowitz encourages this sort of experimentation. “Vinegar specificity should be a guidepost but not a fixed point,” he says. “If you don’t have this or that vinegar, you’re not going to fail the recipe.”