Every chef dreads the moment when he reaches for some ingredient, only to find an empty carton. Oftentimes, there is not enough time to make a trip to the grocery store, or the ingredient itself may not be easily available. At such times, ingredient substitution can come in handy.
Vinegar is one such ingredient that is widely used and substituted in cooking. The choice of vinegar greatly depends upon the taste of natives. Red wine vinegar is often preferred by the French for vinaigrettes and marinades. This vinegar is tangy and makes for great salad dressing.
Red Wine Vinegar Alternatives in Cooking
Red wine vinegar is essentially a fermentation product of red wine, you can safely substitute red wine for certain recipes that demand red wine vinegar. The acidic properties of red wine vinegar are due to the work of bacteria called acitobacter, during the process of fermentation. Red wine can be substituted for vinaigrette and marinade recipes. However, salad dressing may not emulsify if you do not add vinegar to it. In that case, a small amount of whisked mustard can prevent the salad dressing from breaking. You cannot substitute red wine for recipes that demand acidic properties of vinegar for denaturing proteins.
Red Wine + White Vinegar
For recipes that do not work with red wine, a mixture of red wine and white vinegar is a good option. White vinegar renders the acidic properties required for the recipe while red wine imparts the flavor similar to red wine vinegar. White vinegar also makes the dish nice and tangy. Go on adding vinegar only in small quantities, until desired flavor is achieved. This substitution works only one way. Meaning, you cannot substitute red wine vinegar in place of red wine, as red wine is too mild and adding red wine vinegar to a dish can make it too sour and acidic. Red wine vinegar and white wine vinegar are interchangeable in most recipes.
Substituting vinegar does not alter the taste of the dish substantially. However, this is true only if the recipe demands a little use of vinegar. Balsamic vinegar, white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar can all be substituted for red wine vinegar. However, it is recommended that you only add a little portion of any of these vinegars and see what difference it makes to your recipe. If the vinegar imparts undesirable flavor to the recipe or alters the taste of the dish, then you might have to go for the real thing. For salad dressings, you can substitute 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar with 1 tbsp red wine for every 4 tbsp red wine vinegar.
Lime or Lemon Juice
If the recipe does not demand special flavor peculiar to red wine vinegar only, then you might use lime or lemon juice in lieu of red wine vinegar. Lime or lemon juice provides the required acidic properties to the recipe. It is a great substitute for red wine vinegar when you only intend to acidulate water.
Tamarind paste has good protein denaturing properties. Hence, can be used for marinating meat, sea food etc. Tamarind paste is often used in Asian, particularly Indian cuisine. Another red wine vinegar substitute native to India is amchoor powder. You can find it in any store specializing in Indian spices.