HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Sub for red wine in pasta sauce?

Help! :)

I'm making a recipe for ricotta artichoke lasagna tonight for some friends who are coming over - but I just realized the recipe calls for a 3/4 cup of red wine in the tomato sauce portion. They are Muslim and I know they don't take any alcohol, even if it's baked into something.

Any ideas for something flavorful I can use as a substitute, instead of just water ? From past experience, I know this lasagna can be a bit dry so I definitely can't just cut that 3/4 cup of liquid out, I need to replace it with something...is a veggie stock an option, do you think?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. If you have any decaf coffee, try 1/4 cup of brewed coffee + 1/2 cup of water or canned tomato sauce. Coffee is a trick used to deepen the tomato flavor of tomato sauce

    1 Reply
    1. re: gordeaux

      The coffee I am drinking is a somewhat acidic blend and is really bringing out the sweetness in the tomatoes.

    2. I agree with gordeaux, but I'd try instant espresso powder........and of course, you could always just use some herbed-up veggie stock.

      1. I agree with those suggestions already posted however I would reduce the amount of coffee to 1/8 cup and add a teaspoons of fresh lemon juice to the mix.

        1. Saute some tomato paste until slightly browned. This will give you depth of flavor; but you may have to add some stock to replace the liquid.

          1 Reply
            1. re: Boccone Dolce

              I agree, Balsamic vinegar is a wonderful substitute! =)

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  i was poking around on the copy cat website and saw a recipe for Olive Garden's sauce that calls for grape jelly!

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    hmm, I've never heard of using grape juice before ... I have thrown in V8 before though, come to think of it. I'm always changing my sauce based on what I have in the available. Wouldn't the grape juice make it kind of sweet?

                  2. re: DishDelish

                    But not one-to-one. I'd use a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, and stock or tomato juice for the rest.

                2. I would add low sodium Chicken Stock, even from a box.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: mcel215

                    Thanks everyone for you help: I had coffee and veg stock available, so I flipped a coin - and coffee won. Unfortunately, I had to use regular coffee, not instant powder. I used about somewhere between an 1/8- 1/4 cup and added some water, as well. It smelled a little odd as it was simmering, but it ended up tasting fine :)

                    1. re: anakalia

                      I am curious about the source of the original recipe and its other components.

                  2. There's no alcohol left after the cooking, so how is that a problem?

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: puzzler

                      This is not true. There will be alcohol left after cooking and if the guest is a Muslim this certainly will be a problem.

                      1. re: KTinNYC

                        Yes, from what I understand, there are still traces. I would also not serve a dish that included alcohol to a Muslim. My understanding also is that alcoholics vary in terms of whether or not they are comfortable with/able to consume dishes that have been made with alcohol.

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          From wikipedia. A study by a team of researchers at the University of Idaho, Washington State University, and the US Department of Agriculture's Nutrient Data Laboratory calculated the percentage of alcohol remaining in a dish based on various cooking methods. The results are as follows:

                          alcohol added to boiling liquid & removed from heat - 85% alcohol retained
                          alcohol flamed - 75% alcohol retained
                          no heat, stored overnight - 70% alcohol retained
                          baked, 25 minutes, alcohol not stirred into mixture - 45% alcohol retained
                          baked/simmered, alcohol stirred into mixture:
                          * 15 minutes 40% alcohol retained
                          * 30 minutes 35% alcohol retained
                          * 1 hour 25% alcohol retained
                          * 1.5 hours 20% alcohol retained
                          * 2 hours 10% alcohol retained
                          * 2.5 hours 5% alcohol retained

                    2. Harissa paste has a deep, pungent flavor that can really benefit tomato sauces as long as you don't mind a tiny bit of heat.

                      1. Wine is added to tomato sauces primarily because it releases flavor components in the tomatoes that otherwise wouldn't dissolve. It's those alcohol-soluable flavor components that enrich the sauce.

                        Vodka is added for the same reason, only it is used because it has such a neutral flavor.

                        If you can't use wine, use liquid and then something to up the umami, like a hit of soy sauce, white miso, parmesan cheese or anchovies

                        1. Surprised nobody suggested beef stock. It has the depth of red wine--much more so than chicken or veg stock.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                            I had to substitute for red wine in my sauce today and I used about a tablespoon of Balsamic vinegar plus one cube of beef boullion. It smells fantastic. I might make my sauce like this from now on. Will post later on how it tastes.