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Mar 6, 2003 04:58 PM

Substitute for wine in recipes....?

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I know that many recipes call for wine in their recipes. I was wondering if there are any good non-alcoholic substitutes for wine while cooking?

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  1. Can you tell us the reason you want to substitute the wine? By-and-large, when cooking with wine the alcohol burns away anyway so using a non-alcholic wine somewhat defeats the purpose of a quality taste that is inherent in wines with alcohol. As a wine geek, I know of no non-alcoholic wines that have the flavor and depth that a full-alcohol wine brings to a dish and that is because I am cooking with wines that I would also drink. I don't believe in having a "cooking" wine lying around. If it ain't worth drinking, it ain't worth cooking with.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Eviter

      I have read that most but not ALL the alcohol burns away, and thus is not suitable for alcoholics.

      1. re: danna

        You are correct -- my apologies. I always assumed (from instruction given to me at cooking school) that it burned off entirely. A search of the internet found the following percentages of alcohol left by cooking style and I was surprised:


        1. re: Eviter

          That really is very surprising (and quite alarming as MANY of the people I know cannot have alcohol for various reasons). I have to say, however, that there are some *very* good non-alcoholic wines which really get no attention whatsoever. Why would they, as most wine connoisseurs don't seem to really care about the alcoholic content? It is a strange paradox and my father (who doesn't drink for religious reasons) has found some quite good labels which of course I don't recall now. We had a great non-alcoholic sparkling wine over Christmas...don't remember what it was called, but I do know that it was purchased at the Harry's/Whole Foods in Atlanta. There are some very dry grape/herb juices that might work in adding a little tartness and flavor minus the alcohol. I'm not a drinker but I do know some drinkers that prefer these when they can't have the "real" stuff. This is a really good question, and one that I've been wondering about for a good long time.

          1. re: Eviter

            Another reason, aside from the small amount of alcohol left behind, is that some people don't want the rest of the alcoholic beverage not used in the recipe to be lying around the house or even be available to be consumed while cooking!

      2. Often, the wine is just a source of additional liquid and flavor in a recipe. For small quantities of wine, you could substitute stock or water, and probably not notice much a difference. You'll be losing some flavor elements, but could just pump up other seasonings in the recipe. For any recipe where wine is a main flavoring ingredient (wine sauce, beef burgundy) it's probably not worth trying to find a substitute, and it would just be better to make something instead.

        1. Back when I was too young to buy wine, but old enough to be cooking for myself, I'd often use a bit of vinegar and broth.

          Once got into a bit of trouble buying a bottle of cooking sherry when I was 18 or so. Was pulled over on the way home and the policeman noticed the bottle on the passenger seat of my car and asked me about it. He seemed amused when I said, "oh that is cooking sherry, certainly not something I'd drink."

            1. j
              Janet A. Zimmerman

              One thing that wine provides in cooking is acid, so you want to use something acidic for that reason. One poster suggested verjus, which is a good idea but might not be easy to find. Verjus is made from unripe grapes, so it has a similar flavor to vinegar, but is not fermented. A mild vinegar might be a substitute in some cases, as well.

              One problem in trying to elimiate wine from a recipe that calls for it is that alcohol dissolves some taste molecules that are not dissolved by water, so without a little wine, you won't get the same depth of flavor.