Red Cooking Wine vs Red Wine Vinegar: What’s The Difference?

Red Cooking Wine

Both red cooking wine and red wine vinegar are made of red grapes. The key difference between these two is that red wine vinegar is made from fermented red wine, while red cooking wine is a red wine with lover quality.

Red wine is left to ferment and the alcohol from the wine turns into acetic acid. As a result of the fermentation red wine vinegar has a sour flavor and has alcohol in traces. Meaning, red cooking wine, and red wine vinegar have different flavors and different purposes.

Red cooking wine adds moisture and flavor to stewed or braised meats, stews, sauces, and desserts. Red wine vinegar, on the other hand, works well in marinades for vegetables and meats, salad dressings, sauces, vinaigrettes, soups, and pickles.

Cooking wines are cheap wines that contain salt, herbs, spices, and preservatives. They will not do much to enhance the flavor of your dish. You can’t even drink cooking wine because of the high levels of sodium. Meaning, it is bad for your health.

If you want to use wine in your dishes use regular wine. It is better, more flavorful, and will give a better and stronger flavor to your dish.

Red wine vinegar is twice fermented and contains probiotics, magnesium, calcium, potassium, vitamin C, and acetic acid. You can use it in your dishes to give them an acidic and slightly sweet flavor.

Let’s learn more about these two below!

Red Cooking Wine vs Red Wine Vinegar: Comparison Chart

Differences Red cooking wine Red wine vinegar
Production From red grapes, with added preservatives, salt, herbs, and spices From fermented red wine
Flavor Sweet-salty flavor Slightly sweet, acidic flavor 
Alcohol content Around 16% alcohol by volume In traces
Uses Stews, sauces, dark meats, desserts Salad dressings, sauces, soups, vinaigrettes, pickles

Can You Substitute Red Cooking Wine For Red Wine Vinegar?

You can substitute red cooking wine for red wine vinegar in some dishes where the acidity of the red wine vinegar is not necessary.

However, if you need to substitute red wine vinegar with red cooking wine in salad dressings, vinaigrettes, or pickles where acidity is necessary, it is better to use a mixture of equal parts of white vinegar and red cooking wine.

That way you will get a similar wine flavor and acidity that gives a nice hint to the dishes.

Is Cooking Wine And Wine Vinegar The Same?

Cooking wine and wine vinegar is not the same.

Cooking wine is a wine of lower quality than regular wine and contains preservatives, sugar, herbs, spices, and salt. Ingredients that can alter the flavor of your dish. White wine vinegar is made from fermented wine which undergoes a second fermentation.

During this process, the acetobacter (type of bacteria) turns the alcohol into acetic acid which gives the vinegar its acidic flavor.

What Can I Substitute For Red Wine Vinegar In A Recipe?

You can easily replace red wine vinegar in a recipe with white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, sherry vinegar, balsamic vinegar, rice wine vinegar, and a mixture of red wine and white vinegar.

They all have their distinctive flavor and will make your dish even more flavorful.

What Is Red Wine Vinegar Used For In Cooking?

Red wine vinegar

Red wine vinegar in cooking works well in marinades, salad dressings, beef, pork, lentils, beans, and vegetables.

Red wine vinegar is an ingredient you should have in your pantry to add an acidic, slightly sweet, and fruity flavor to your recipes. The flavor of the red wine vinegar depends on the quality of the wine used for its production.

Red wine vinegar which is made of quality wine is aged in wooden barrels. It has a distinct tangy and rounded flavor. The cheaper types of red wine vinegar, on the other hand, have a sharp and acidic flavor. And they are produced faster by brewing the red wine with some vinegar.

Can I Mix Red Wine and Vinegar To Make Red Wine Vinegar?

You can mix red wine and vinegar to make red wine vinegar.

Homemade vinegar has a better flavor than store-bought vinegar. And you can use it in many different dishes.

To make red wine vinegar at home you will need your favorite red wine that you usually drink and unpasteurized raw vinegar.

Just pour 1 liter of red wine in a glass or stainless-steel container and add 1 cup of vinegar. The container should be ¾ full to provide the oxygen needed for acetobacter to grow and turn the wine into vinegar.

Cover the container with a cheesecloth and place it away from direct sunlight. After two weeks you can try the vinegar and if it is not sour enough you can leave it until it gets the right flavor that will work for you.

Strain the vinegar and bottle it so you could use it in your dishes. You can also add some fresh or dried herbs to the vinegar and make herbal vinegar.

What Can You Substitute For Red Wine In Beef Stew?

Beef Bourguignon

You can easily replace red wine in beef broth with vinegar, red grape juice, unsweetened cranberry juice, red wine vinegar, unsweetened cherry juice, or unsweetened pomegranate juice.

Beef stew is a delicious and easy-to-make dish. And there are many variations of this dish. Most of them are calling for red wine as an ingredient.

Red wine gives a rich, sweet, and acidic flavor to the beef stew.

So, when you are using other ingredients as a substitute for red wine, make sure they deliver the similar flavor that red wines give to the beef stew.


Both red cooking wine and red wine vinegar can improve the flavor of your dishes.

You can use red cooking wine to add some flavor to stewed and braised meats, sauces, stews, and many other dishes. On the other hand, red wine vinegar will lighten up your favorite salad, sauce, or soup.

They are both important kitchen ingredients that we use in food preparation almost daily.

What is your favorite dish made with red cooking wine? In which dishes you are using red wine vinegar? Share your recipe in the comment section below.

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