The Cooking Substitution You Should Try Instead Of Wine

"In vino veritas" is the Latin version of an almost universal maxim: "In wine, there is truth." And most people who've had a glass or two would tell you much the same. But what else is in wine? As Wine Folly points out, mostly water, some alcohol, and a tiny cocktail of components that make wine, well, wine. These include acids, esters, phenols, minerals, sugar, and sulfites.

Not only do these make wine a delight to drink, but they make it a prized ingredient in the culinary lexicon. Wine Enthusiast expounds on the plethora of benefits wine offers in the kitchen. It adds layers of complexity as it reduces and even improves texture, such as in fondue and other cheese sauces, and dissolves both fat- and water-soluble compounds when used to deglaze a cooking vessel. Food & Wine also praises wine's ability to elevate a marinade, adding depth of flavor along with acid that aids in softening muscle tissues in meat.

But a great many recipes — like our parmesan risotto or red wine-braised short ribs — only call for a cup or two of wine, leaving you with the better part of a bottle. If you don't plan to consume or cook with that wine within a few days of opening it, you run the risk of it turning. There is, though, an alternative that offers much of what wine does but with a bit more staying power.

Vermouth for the win

Though you might think it is only for adding to a martini or Manhattan, vermouth is an excellent swap for wine in the kitchen. As Cook's Illustrated points out, vermouth — both the dry and red varieties — are fortified wines. That means that they are wines to which a high alcohol spirit has been added. This extra preservation step means that vermouth, once opened, will keep in the refrigerator for up to a month.

As with any ingredient, it is important to understand the flavor profile before adding it to a dish. Dry vermouth, Saveur notes, is crisp and clear and, to some, akin to wine in flavor. It can have added herbs, such as quinine and gentian, so make sure to taste or research a bottle to ensure it is right for the dish you're adding it to. Red vermouth is sweeter and spicier, which is important to note as both flavors tend to become more pronounced as the vermouth reduces.

While vermouth is definitely one of our go-to grabs when subbing out wine in a recipe, we also have suggestions for those who want to move beyond wine altogether. In our list of alternatives to white wine — full disclosure:, it does offer red wine and vermouth as alts — are some fabulous outside-the-box choices, such as beer, chicken stock, various vinegars, or grape juice. Just make sure that whatever you choose doesn't clash with the fundamental flavors of your dish.