If you enjoy cooking with wine, you probably keep a few bottles on hand. However, “wine emergencies” do happen; dogs and children can knock over portable wine racks, you can drop, break, or spill the last bottle of “perfect” red wine meant for your dinner, or you can be so rushed to get home and start cooking that you forget to pick up that "perfect bottle" in the first place! Although nothing competes with a quality wine, below are a few cooking tricks to use in an emergency when you find yourself without a proper wine.
Wine is meant to enrich food, not compete with it. Be sure your dish really requires that “wine flavor” before doing one of the following: If your recipe really needs wine, substitute regular grape juice or cranberry juice. Cranberry juice blends containing apple juice are also possible. If the result is too sweet, add a tablespoon of vinegar. (This really does work.)
If you are making a soup, stew, or sauce, do not add the wine alternative at the last minute. Instead, add the substitution to your liquid as it simmers so you can accurately gauge the balance of its flavor and its overall scent. If you need a red wine substitute for soup, consider using 1/2 a cup of broth mixed with 1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar. Don’t have red wine vinegar? Use 1 teaspoon of lemon juice instead!
While nothing compares to meat marinated in red wine, any marinade will help make your meat more juicy and tender than if cooked alone. If your meat dish requires a dry red, add a cup of lemon or lime juice for a generic tart taste, or a cup of orange or even pineapple juice for a tart-yet-sweet marinade. Too strange? Try 3/4 cup tomato juice and 1/4 cup vinegar. (That’s actually not too bad!)
Although these alternatives may sound a bit odd, the results are far superior than if you resort to “cooking wine.” Although you may have an inkling, resist the temptation to use cooking wine! It is often flavored with salt and various additives that will easily compromise your dish. Of course, the best course of action is to always have extra bottles of wine around "just in case." To ensure you always have a few bottles of red on hand, consider purchasing a Napa 4- bottle wine dispenser. This way, you’ll always have a bottle “on tap” and ready to go. The Napa 4- bottle wine dispenser also fits conveniently in most kitchen spaces. Cheers!