Dry White Wine Substitute Tips

Many classic recipes call for white wine to add an extra layer of character to an already delicious dish. In these recipes, the white wine is often boiled and reduced, burning off the alcohol. A solid wine infuses acidity into a dish, which helps to break down meat proteins and deglaze pans and can bring out a new dimension of risotto or pan sauces.

Wine works wonders in accentuating the surrounding flavors in a dish. Chicken piccata and shrimp scampi are both amplified by a great, dry white. Much of the subtle nuances of the wine are lost during the cooking process, but a solid vino brings much-needed richness and acidity to our favorite dishes.

But what if you don’t have a bottle on hand? That’s where these substitutes come in. Read on to complete your cooking night without popping open a new dry white.

Spirits and Wines

In general, when substituting alcohol in cooking, you’ll want to look for wines and spirits of a similar ABV. If you’re looking to replace a dry white, a splash of Vermouth could provide the same texture while also adding complex flavor and aroma.

Champagne or sparkling whites also work splendidly, and those bubbles will disappear through the cooking process. A light rosé also works a treat.

A dry red could function as a great substitute for a dry white but might impact the final color of the dish. If you’re making a creamy tomato sauce, a dry red should work perfectly. If you’re making a lighter-colored sauce such as a butter sauce, opt for vermouth.

All the Vinegar

Slightly sweet and similarly aged, apple cider vinegar is a perfect dry white wine substitute for cooking. You’ll want to add a cup of apple cider vinegar for every cup of white wine that a recipe calls for.

In contrast to apple cider vinegar, distilled vinegar contains much more acidity than traditional white wine, so use 1/4-1/2 of the amount that the recipe calls for and make up the rest of the volume with water.

Matching the acidity of reduced white wine, a light-colored vinegar such as rice vinegar or white wine vinegar will also get the job done.

If your dish is missing some of that signature sweetness that a reduced white adds, don’t be afraid to experiment with sweet syrups like honey or maple.

Of course, watch out for darker vinegar. They might get the job done in the taste department but could ruin the final color of the dish if the recipe calls for a light-colored liquid and you pull out a dark balsamic.

If you don't have a bottle on hand, use these white wine substitutes.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice works best as a dry white substitute for lighter meats like chicken or fish. Be warned, lemon juice can taste quite tart when compared to a reduced white. Remember to compensate by diluting your mixture with water to make up some of the liquid volume while not overpowering your dish with raw acidity.

Go for fresh-squeezed if possible, and remember to taste test your tang levels along the way so as not to tip the flavor scales of your dish in one direction.

Chicken or Vegetable Stock

Adding in a bit more savory flavors, a low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth might not taste exactly the same as white wine but will provide a similar depth and dimension to the dish. Add one cup of broth for every recommended cup of white wine, and a splash of vinegar or lemon juice to make up for the lost acidity. Just remember to account for the added salt of the broth in balancing out the rest of your dish.

Fruit Juices

Wine is simply fermented grapes, so why shouldn’t white grape juice get the job done? It just might, though you’ll want to monitor your sweetness levels as fruit juice will contain much more sugar than a comparable volume of wine.

Substitute an equal amount of white grape or apple juice and dilute with a splash of vinegar or lemon juice to bring that tasty acidity back into your pan.

Ginger Ale

You might not think that a soft drink is an obvious sibling to a dry white, but it does offer that same crisp, slightly-sweet taste that a white wine promises while keeping costs down. Use one cup of ginger ale for every recommended cup of dry white, but look out for excessive sweetness if you’ve got a particularly sugary soda. If you still need to add acidity, throw in a splash of lemon juice.


If you’ve really got empty cupboards, a cup of tap water will manage as a dry white substitute. It won’t add the complexity or acidity of a white wine, but it will make up the liquid volume, and that just might be enough if your stomach’s really rumbling.

If you want to add a bit of character to this substitute, shake some herbs into the mixture. A bay leaf works wonders in a savory stew or soup. Rosemary slides in perfectly into many meat and starch dishes, while parsley tastes delicious with lemon-roasted chicken.

Stock up on Dry White Wine

While all of these substitutes will work in a pinch, none of them will quite match up to the unique character that a dry white adds to your favorite dish. Make sure to stock up with Wine Insiders, and explore our growing collection of dry whites not just for cooking, but for sipping as you put the finishing touches on a scrumptious shrimp scampi.