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The Best White Wine Substitutes for Cooking + Tips for Choosing One

The Best White Wine Substitutes for Cooking + Tips for Choosing One


11 minute read

White wine is more than a go-to beverage when it's time to celebrate or wind down; it’s actually an important ingredient in many culinary delights. 

White wine elevates flavors, adds acidity, and unlocks the full potential of various dishes, from creamy risottos and hearty stews to flavorful pan sauces and succulent marinades.

But when you’re sober (or just sober curious), it’s common to seek white wine substitutes to avoid keeping alcohol around. We’ve compiled a list of the best, plus answers to the questions home chefs ask when looking for white wine cooking substitutes.

Why Do We Cook with White Wine?

The role of white wine in cooking extends beyond flavor enhancement. Its acidity can balance rich, creamy, or oily dishes, and it is used to tenderize meats in marinades. 

The wine's alcoholic content aids in deglazing pans, effectively infusing your dish with more complex flavors when it loosens those yummy bits stuck to the pan's bottom.

Cooking with white wine can bring about a certain sophistication and depth to your recipes. If you have a non-alcoholic household, dislike the taste of wine, or are just out at the moment, white wine substitutes are vast and varied. 

There are many alternatives that can match, and possibly enhance, your dish's flavors. 

9 Best Substitutes for White Wine While Cooking

When your recipe calls for a splash of white wine and you don't have any on hand, don't worry! You probably already have an excellent substitute in your kitchen. 

What can I substitute for white wine in a recipe? Whether it's an alcohol-free option or a simple household staple, white wine substitutes like chicken broth, apple cider vinegar, or NA wine can step in and save the day.

1. Non-Alcoholic Wine

Non-alcoholic wine (also called dealcoholized or NA wine) is a fantastic substitute for white wine in cooking if you’re simply trying to avoid keeping alcohol around.

Properly dealcoholized wine is real wine, just without the alcohol — it’s not the same as grape juice (which we discuss below).

Because it’s real wine, high-quality NA white wine may actually offer one of the closest flavor profiles to real white wine in your cooking. It won’t be a perfect match because it contains no alcohol, but it’s our favorite option!

Be cautious when choosing a dealcoholized white wine to cook with. If it has added sugars or doesn’t taste good enough to drink, don’t use it for cooking.

Read Next: Can You Cook With Dealcoholized Wine? Tips & Tricks 

Of course, we (obviously) think you should use Surely’s highly-rated options!

Non-Alcoholic Sauvignon Blanc

Non-Alcoholic Sauvignon Blanc

$22.99

Award-winning alcohol-removed California Sauvignon Blanc. Citrus meets pear and apple to create a crisp, bright, dry sip. TASTING NOTES: Crisp, clean, and bright like a diamond. This perfectly balanced, dry Sauvignon Blanc is citrus-forward with soft pear and sweet apple… Read More

2. Chicken Broth

A fantastic non-alcoholic substitute for white wine in cooking is chicken broth. Its savory depth can enrich the flavor profile of your meal. A chicken broth swap works well with seafood and shellfish dishes.

This substitute is great because you can use low-sodium broth to balance salt intake. It can be swapped for vegetable broth for meat-free meals. To maintain the acidity of the wine, consider adding a tablespoon of vinegar to your broth.

3. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has similar levels of acidity to white wine. The sweet, but tangy flavor combined with the aged depth, can mimic the qualities of white wine, too. 

To use ACV in place of wine, you may consider diluting it with water to avoid an overly sour dish. Use the same amount of diluted vinegar as the amount of wine the recipe calls for. 

4. Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is another option that matches the required acidity of white wine. This makes it a great substitute for deglazing pans. 

Just like apple cider vinegar, lemon juice can have a stronger, more sour flavor. Use it in smaller quantities and dilute it with equal parts water.

5. White Grape Juice

If the recipe you are making is on the sweeter side, white grape juice can take the place of wine. After all, white grape juice is a white wine that hasn’t gone through the fermentation process! 

Apple juice can also work in a pinch, but white grape juice maintains the grape flavor present in white wine. 

When you are after those fruity notes, but making a savory dish, balance white grape juice with some white vinegar or lemon juice.

6. White Wine Vinegar

Any wine can turn into vinegar when oxygen gets inside the bottle. White wine vinegar is simply wine that has been oxidized, so the intended flavors of the wine are carried through.

How much white wine vinegar to substitute for white wine? Substitute every ½ cup of white wine with 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar and ⅜ cups of broth, juice, or water. 

White wine vinegar can be used in pan sauces, marinades, and salad dressings.

7. Ginger Ale

This may come as a surprise, but ginger ale works really well as an alternative to white wine in cooking because of its dry and sweet flavor. When a recipe called for sweet white wine like Riesling, Moscato, or Pinot Gris, you can substitute in ginger ale in equal amounts.

Ginger ale pairs perfectly with smoky dishes and fatty meats like pork.  Give it a try to add some unique spiciness.

8. Rice Wine Vinegar

This commonly found ingredient in East Asian dishes is a sweeter and less acidic alternative to most kinds of vinegar. It replicates the flavor of white wine nicely.

Make sure you’re not using “seasoned rice vinegar,” which has added salts and sugars that may throw off the other ingredients in your dish.

9. Red Wine and Other Alcohol 

In some cases, red wine (as well as red wine vinegar) can step in as a white wine substitute. This imparts stronger flavor and as you probably can gather, affects the color of your meal. It can work well in robust, hearty soups.

Apart from red wine, other alcoholic beverages can stand in for white wine. Dry vermouth and dry sherry are fortified wines with extended shelf life. They bring a different, but enjoyable, flavor profile to dishes, but contain a much higher alcohol content. You can also try using beer, but some beers have more bitter flavors than others. 

Lastly, Marsala and other sweet wines can be used, especially in desserts, but their sweetness makes them less suitable for savory dishes unless balanced with additional acidity.

Can I use water instead of white wine?

Yes, you can use water as a substitute for white wine in cooking. But be aware that water may not deliver the same depth of flavor. Water is neutral, and while it can maintain the required amount of liquid in a recipe, it doesn't contribute any acidity or aroma.

In recipes where the white wine's role is primarily to add moisture or to deglaze a pan, water can be a viable substitute. 

It's also a handy option if the recipe contains strong flavors that can overshadow the absence of wine. For instance, in a fish stew recipe that requires bottled clam juice, shellfish stock, and white wine, water can effectively replace the wine. 

For recipes where white wine plays a more prominent role in the flavor profile, using water alone may result in a dish that tastes a little bland. Keep in mind that the goal is to maintain the overall balance of flavors in your dish while substituting white wine.

Measurements Make a Difference When Choosing Substitutes

The quantity of white wine required will help determine what substitute to use. Some dishes are asking for only a tablespoon or while others are asking for a cup. You have to consider that the amount of wine in a recipe influences not only the taste but also the moisture and acidity levels.

What is the substitute for 1 cup of white wine? A good substitute for a cup of white wine is a cup of broth or vegetable stock, with a splash of vinegar or lemon juice for acidity. The general rule is to add one tablespoon of vinegar for every cup of broth used.

For recipes requiring ¼ cup of white wine or less, it's generally safe to omit the wine altogether. In such small quantities, the wine is not a crucial player in the flavor profile or overall outcome of the dish. 

If you find the dish is missing a bit of zest after cooking, try adding a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

When a recipe requires more than ¼ cup of white wine, it becomes essential to replace not only the volume of liquid, but also the acidity and flavor that the wine would provide. In this case, a cup of water can be used, particularly when the recipe has other robust flavors to take center stage. 

Tips for Substituting White Wine

Substituting white wine can be nuanced, but following these tips can guide you in making delicious culinary endeavors.

  1. Consider the dish: The dish you're preparing significantly influences the best type of white wine substitute to use. For example, a fruity and sweet substitute like white grape juice or apple juice might work better in dessert recipes, whereas a savory broth could be a better choice in scampi or soups.
  2. Taste as you go: When using a substitute for the first time, it's a good idea to taste your dish as you go. This way, you can adjust the flavors according to your preference. Remember, it's easier to add more of an ingredient than to correct an overly strong flavor.
  3. Think about acidity: White wine contributes a specific level of acidity to dishes that aids in balancing flavors. If you choose a substitute that lacks this acidity, consider adding a bit of vinegar or lemon juice to compensate.
  4. Don't be afraid to experiment: Not all substitutions will provide the same flavor profile as white wine, and that's perfectly fine. Some substitutes might even introduce exciting new dimensions to your dishes. Don't be afraid to try different substitutes and find what works best for your recipes.
  5. Alcohol content matters: If you're avoiding alcohol, remember that some substitutes like vermouth or sherry are also alcoholic. Opt for non-alcoholic options such as ginger ale, broths, or juices when necessary. You can even pick up a bottle of Surely’s non-alcoholic wine to use in your next dinner.
  6. Consider the health benefits: Some white wine substitutes might offer added health benefits. For example, apple cider vinegar is known for its potential health properties, and choosing a low-sodium broth can help maintain a balanced salt intake.

Read Next: How Long Does Unopened Wine Last?

Non-Alcoholic Sauvignon Blanc

Non-Alcoholic Sauvignon Blanc

$22.99

Award-winning alcohol-removed California Sauvignon Blanc. Citrus meets pear and apple to create a crisp, bright, dry sip. TASTING NOTES: Crisp, clean, and bright like a diamond. This perfectly balanced, dry Sauvignon Blanc is citrus-forward with soft pear and sweet apple… Read More

In some dishes, you will see a call for cooking wine. 

What can I use if I don't have cooking wineIf you don’t have cooking wine, you can use a dry white wine like Surely’s Sauvignon Blanc or any other appropriate substitute, like chicken broth, ACV, lemon juice, or white grape juice.

Cooking wine tends to be full of salt, sweeteners, and preservatives. It is best to avoid cooking wine altogether for your health and the taste of your food.

The goal of substituting white wine is to preserve the balance of flavors in your dishes. Remember that cooking is an art! With a bit of creativity and these tips in mind, you're well on your way to crafting delicious meals without missing a beat.

Pair your next meal with some non-alcoholic bubbles from Surely. Choose from Sparkling RoséSparkling Brut, and Bubbly Red. Our wines are the perfect complement to any dish you decide to make.

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