Is Martini or Manhattan your favorite cocktail? If so, do you know what they are made of? In this article, I will tell you all about Vermouth and what to use as its substitute.
First thing first, let’s learn about the making of vermouth. This fortified wine is produced from grape wine or unfermented wine must. Then extra alcohol like brandy, aromatic herbs, barks, and roots are added to fortify and aromatize the wine.
Some of the spices used for aromatizing vermouth are cardamom, cinnamon, chamomile, coriander, ginger, cloves, quinine, citrus peel, and marjoram.
After the wine is fortified and aromatized than is sweetened with caramelized or cane sugar depending on the type of vermouth.
There are two types of vermouth sweet with red and dry with white color. Dry vermouths have floral and fruity slightly acidic flavor while sweet vermouth has a bitter-sweet flavor.
If you don’t have vermouth at your home, you can use white wine, dry sherry, apple cider, red wine, or balsamic vinegar. Let’s learn more about these substitutes.
Best Substitutes for Vermouth
Vermouth contains from 16-18% of alcohol. It is the main ingredient in many cocktails. However, you can also use it in cooking as a substitute for white wines. Vermouth is more flavorful than white wine, so it’s best to use it in sauces and, marinades, for meats and fish.
It has a very distinctive flavor. So, when you use it in cooking it will add a lovely and sweet herbal flavor depending on the type of vermouth and spices are added to it.
Maybe some of these substitutes will not reach the same flavor in dishes like with vermouth but they will surely improve their flavor. You can use them in cooking or as a drink substitute.
1. White wine
White wine is one of the better substitutes for vermouth. There are many types of white wine with different tastes. They can have citrus, fruit, or nutty flavor and add those flavors to the dish where they are used.
These wines are ideal for dishes with meat and fish to balance the fat and make the meat more tender. They are also great for sauces, marinades, stews, risotto, pasta, mushrooms, and seafood. Add the white wine at the beginning of your cooking to connect all the tastes and improve the flavor of the dish.
2. Dry sherry
This Spanish fortified wine is made of the Palomino grape. It is a special variety of grape used in the production of sherry. There are light and heavier versions of sherry with different flavors, colors, alcohol, and sugar content.
There is also a cooking sherry low-quality wine with added preservatives and salt which is good for savory but not for sweet dishes. It’s best to use sherry in cooking for its better flavor and less salt content.
Dry sherry has a nutty and slightly sweet flavor. You can use it as a substitute for vermouth in sauces, soups, meats, fish, risotto, and seafood. It’s also perfect for desserts such as pies, cakes, or cookies.
3. Grape juice
Grape juice is a good substitute for vermouth. The color and taste of the grape juice depend on the type of grapes used for its production. It can be either white or purple with a sweet or slightly sour taste.
This juice will add both flavor and color to your food. Start with a smaller amount and adjust it to your taste. If it’s too sweet you can add some salt or lemon juice for a light and fresh flavor. You can use grape juice in sweet and savory dishes.
4. Red wine
Red wine is made from grapes of dark color. The color can vary from violet to brown. It has more tannins than white wine.
Therefore, when it’s cooked it turns bitter faster. Red wine is ideal for dishes with lamb, beef, and duck meat, stews, sauces, marinades, however, it’s also good for sweet dishes such as cakes, cookies, and pies.
5. Balsamic vinegar
Balsamic vinegar is ideal for different dishes for its sweet-acidic taste and unique umami flavor. With its dark brown color and thick structure, this product is a ”must-have” ingredient in every kitchen.
It’s made of grape must with or without added caramel, wine vinegar, and flavors. High-quality balsamic vinegar is made only from grape must. It’s perfect for pasta, risottos, sauces, and marinades or added on top of aged cheese, strawberries and pears.
6. Wine vinegar
One of the many wine products you can use as a substitute for vermouth is wine vinegar. It can be made from white or red wine and is usually used in marinades and salad dressings.
White vinegar pairs well with chicken meat, and fish and is also used for pickling. Red vinegar is used with pork, beef, and vegetables.
White vinegar is a better substitute for vermouth because of its color and acidic taste. But if you don’t mind the red color of your dish you can also use red vinegar.
Sake is a rice vine from Japan made by fermenting polished rice. It has high alcohol content and lightly sweet flavor but sake can also have flavors of spices, herbs, fruits, and flowers. You can use it in marinades, sauces, soups, and desserts.
8. Apple cider
Apple cider is a product made from mashed apples. Its flavor depends on the apples used for its production. It can have a sweet and fruity or sour taste.
This product is perfect for both sweet and savory dishes. You can use it for preparing cakes, candies, dressings, and marinades for pork, lamb, or chicken meat.
9. Lemon juice
You can use lemon juice instead of vermouth since they both have similar acidic flavors. Lemon juice is more acidic than vermouth therefore first add a small amount and increase it if needed. When the recipe calls for half a cup of vermouth use 1/4of cup lemon juice.
If you need a non-alcoholic substitute for vermouth, consider beef, fish, chicken, seafood, or vegetable stock. You can use them in soups, stews, or braises.
You will not get the same flavor as with vermouth. However, you will bring all the tastes together in one flavorful dish.
What can be used in place of vermouth in cooking?
Instead of vermouth, you can either use white wine, red wine, dry sherry, grape juice, balsamic vinegar, or apple cider.
Can I substitute white wine for vermouth in a recipe?
Yes, you can substitute white wine for vermouth in a recipe. Just add the wine at the beginning of the cooking to bring all the flavors together.
Do you have to have vermouth for a martini?
You don’t have to have vermouth for a martini. You can make a dirty martini by adding a light spritz of olive juice.
Vermouth is a drink that works in both sweet and savory dishes. However, if you don’t have it you can use some of these substitutes.
You will not get the same flavor. But you would get a new flavor with these alternatives. Please, let us know how these substitutes worked for you in your dishes.