9 Good Substitutes for Sherry Vinegar
Sherry vinegar is the ideal combination of red wine and white wine vinegar that has a balanced flavor, and adds depth and aroma to your dish. But what do you do when you run out? Well, you keep on cooking. Because after you’ve read this, you’ll find you have at least one substitute for sherry vinegar.
Sherry vinegar is a Spanish staple. While foodies love to add the flavor of sherry vinegar to their dishes, sometimes it is just too hard to find. When that happens, what substitute can you use? Here you’ll find some alternatives for sherry vinegar, but first, what should you look for in a substitute?
Sherry vinegar flavor profile
Sherry vinegar is made from sherry wine. Sherry is a type of fortified wine, made from a special white grape that grows in southern Spain. Vinaigre de Jerez can be aged for at least six months, or up to ten years, in wooden barrels. If you use sherry vinegar often, you won’t be surprised at this as you’ll be familiar with its complex bouquet.
Sherry vinegar is somewhere between red wine vinegar and white wine vinegar. It’s right in the sweet spot. It’s not as pungent, dry, sharp, bright, and crisp as white wine vinegar. It has a softer, more round flavor. And it’s not too sweet either; not as sweet as balsamic vinegar, for instance. But there’s more to it than its mild, suave, sweet, tanginess, and tartness.
Sherry vinegar has an impressive bouquet of aromas. It brings some bitter notes and a nutty flavor. It leaves a caramel taste. And somehow, it manages to remain balanced and quite pleasing. While it may be hard to find sherry vinegar substitutes that exactly replicate its aromas, some options mimic its taste and acidity. Here is what to use instead of sherry vinegar.
- Before you begin: Keep in mind that vinegar is added to foods to enhance their natural flavors, to add more taste and deepen the already existing bouquets. When it comes to such alternatives, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Start small and add more if you think it’s needed. Even where we recommend a 1:1 ratio, it’s best to go with your own preference and palate. To one person, an alternative can be mild, while to others, it can overwhelm the dish.
Choose your substitute for sherry vinegar
Sherry wine vinegar is famous for its unique blend of tartness and sweetness. While it has nutty, earthy flavors, sweet caramel undertones, and bitter notes, sherry vinegar remains balanced. That is why it’s so versatile. Unfortunately, it can be hard to find if you’re not from the province of Cádiz, also known as “the sherry triangle”. There are some options for swapping with sherry vinegar which are easy to find and have more suitable prices.
1. Rice Wine Vinegar
While not as full-bodied as sherry wine, rice wine vinegar is the next best thing. Hear us out! Rice vinegar is the closest when it comes to flavor and acidity strength. That is, it’s quite mild, gentle, and not at all pungent. Also, this Asian vinegar is cheaper than sherry wine. We recommend you use it in a 1:1 ratio.
You can add it to salad dressings, stews, soups, marinades, stir-fries, roasted veggies, and meats; actually, add it to any recipe that calls for sherry vinegar.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Although not as robust as sherry wine, apple cider vinegar can work. It is higher in acidity than rice wine vinegar and just as sweet, so it will do the trick. Though it has more tartness, it is usually available in most kitchens. Be sure to gradually add to your dish: start with a 1:2 ratio. And if you want to reduce the tartness, add a sprinkling of brown sugar, then it’s a game-changer!
You can add it to soups, reductions, meats, salads, pasta, and stews. And pretty much anything that calls for sherry vinegar.
3. Champagne Vinegar
Champagne vinegar is a pretty good substitute for sherry vinegar. It’s slightly milder and sweeter than any other wine vinegar. But they do share a few characteristics: they are equally fancy, for example.
You can add it to salad dressings, soups, meat marinades, and roasted dishes. Try it in any recipe that has sherry vinegar on the ingredient list.
4. Balsamic Vinegar
Any respectable foodie will have either sherry vinegar or balsamic in their cupboard. If you run out of sherry vinegar, reach for the Aceto Balsamico. This is sherry vinegar’s Italian cousin that is a little sweeter, but has everything else: the fruity aroma, a touch of bitterness, earthiness, nutty flavors, and a mild tartness. You can use it in a 1:1 ratio.
You can add it to salads, meats, dressing, marinades, soups, pasta, roasted meats, and veggies, in fact, all sherry vinegar recipes.
5. Lemon/Lime Juice/Orange/Grapefruit
Don’t have balsamic either?! But you have some citrus, right? Then your recipe is good to go. Citrus juices are quite acidic, yet mild, particularly lime, orange, and grapefruit. While they can be sweeter than any other type of wine vinegar, their tanginess differs in flavor to sherry vinegar. If push comes to shove, they can still get the food done.
You can add it to salads, soups, roasted veggies, and drinks. This is not the best option for meat dishes or and sauce-based, simmered foods.
6. Sherry Wine
Before it’s sherry vinegar, it’s sherry wine! So it works well as a substitute, particularly in cooked, simmered recipes, where the alcohol can evaporate. Sherry wine is much sweeter and it doesn’t have the acidic element since it’s not left to ferment. Extra tip: Mix some sherry wine with balsamic vinegar and you’ve got something very similar to sherry vinegar.
You can add it to cooked dishes that called for sherry vinegar.
7. White Wine Vinegar
While whit wine vinegar is not made from Palomino, al Pedro Ximénez, or Moscatel grapes (the grapes sherry is made from), it can work. White wine vinegar is milder than sherry in flavor, but they can be used interchangeably.
You can add it to meats, soups, roasted dishes, and pickles. You could drizzle it over raw food, but you’ll know it’s not sherry vinegar.
8. Red Wine Vinegar
Enriched with many flavors, sherry vinegar is ideal in stews, salads, sauces, marinades, meats, roasts, and dressings. Red wine vinegar can replace it, but only in smaller amounts. Red wine vinegar is also intense and quite tart. So go easy on it.
You can add it to pickles, marinades, roasted meats, baked veggies, and stews. It can work in salads, but don’t over do it.
9. White Vinegar
Only use this if you have no other choice. White vinegar is quite harsh and intense, so use it sparingly. Compared to sherry vinegar, it’s “zingy”. Its acidic nature makes it a good option if there is nothing else around. You might want to dilute it a bit with water and add a drop of maple syrup. Use in a 1:4 ratio.
You can add it to marinades, pickles, sauces, and soups. It can be used in salads, but the substitute will be noticeable.
- Before you leave: You can try this homemade recipe to replace sherry vinegar. If you rarely find sherry vinegar at your local store, make a batch of this at home. You need some sherry wine, water, a sprinkle of brown sugar, and a vinegar starter, aka “the Mother” of vinegar.
Put the vinegar starter in a big glass jar. Add one part sherry wine and two parts water. Mix it all up. Cover and fasten the jar. Let it stand for at least three weeks. When you come to use it, add a sprinkle of brown sugar. Ta-da!
Some alternatives might have surprised you! Some of them are safety nets for those times when you can’t you find anything better. But in the kitchen, you make do. With a touch of creativity and a dash of courage, you can reinvent some recipes. We know you have at least one substitute for sherry vinegar in your pantry. So there’s no need to give up on your recipe; just find that one ingredient that works for your dish.