Finding a proper sherry vinegar substitute is not easy. Honestly, there are no other vinegars or ingredients that perfectly mimic the complex flavor of this vinegar.
However, when your recipe demands sherry vinegar and you don’t have it; you have to find an agreeable replacement for it.
In this article, you’ll read about few worthy alternatives to sherry vinegar just enough to save your recipe.
What’s sherry vinegar anyway?
Sherry vinegar is a gourmet wine vinegar made from sherry which has its origin in Spain.
This vinegar has a mild flavor than the sometimes harsh red wine vinegar but less sweet than balsamic. The aroma and flavor depend on the aging of the vinegar in oak barrels. The best quality sherry vinegar is labeled as “reserva” that is aged for a minimum two years up to 10 years; and “gran reserva” aged beyond 10 years.
The longer the vinegar ages in barrels, has stronger woody flavor and aroma. Also, it makes the vinegar more complex and concentrated.
Sherry vinegar has a non-astringent and tawny flavor with more rounded and softer flavor than regular wine vinegars.
The tastes get uplifted just by drizzling a few drops this vinegar to a finished dish. You can also use it half-and-half with another vinegar or lemon juice in vinaigrette. Sherry vinegar works well in sauces, steaks, and marinades.
Best Substitutes for Sherry Vinegar
Sherry vinegar is less common than other vinegars for its exotic profile.
If you are in a pinch or can’t find it in your nearby grocery stores, here are some of the best substitutes:
1. Rice Wine Vinegar
Rice wine vinegar, also known as rice vinegar, has a similar acidity level and flavor profile to sherry vinegar. One is made from grape wine but the other is made from rice wine.
Rice vinegar is popularly used in East Asian cooking like sushi rice, sauces, and meat dishes.
In terms of cost, rice vinegar is much cheaper than sherry vinegar.
Rice vinegar works very well in place of sherry vinegar for sauces, marinades, and vinaigrettes. This vinegar can also add a pop of flavor to your main course or use it to pickle vegetables.
Substitute using a 1:1 ratio in any recipe that calls for sherry vinegar.
2. Apple cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is made by fermenting the sugar from apples. It has a moderately complex flavor with a fruitiness taste of apples.
Unlike the sherry vinegar, ACV is easily available and much cheaper as well.
The downside of using ACV in place sherry vinegar is the level of acidity. This vinegar is more acidic than sherry vinegar.
The fruity flavor of ACV may not rightly fit into all recipes that call for sherry vinegar but works for some.
If you happen to have sherry wine on hand, just a splash with the cider vinegar to take care of the missing flavor.
While substituting, use ACV in slightly less quantity than sherry vinegar to balance the level of acidity.
3. Champagne Vinegar
In comparison to sherry vinegar, champagne vinegar is slightly sweeter and less harsh.
Please note, using too much of champagne vinegar can make your dish sweeter. You might have to tweak some things along the way depending on the dish, but overall, it’s a pretty similar replacement.
For example, you can reduce the sweetness of champagne vinegar by blending it with white wine vinegar.
Champagne vinegar is a good substitute for sherry vinegar in making light sauces, pasta salads, and vinaigrettes.
4. White Wine Vinegar
Another agreeable replacement for sherry vinegar is white wine vinegar. Both are grape wine-based vinegar and share a similar grape flavor.
White wine vinegar has a slightly higher level of acidity than sherry vinegar. So use it in less quantity while substituting.
To your benefit, both these vinegars are used in some types of dishes.
You can easily use white wine vinegar in place of sherry vinegar in salad dressing, European soups, stews, and marinades.
Using a mixture of white wine vinegar and sherry wine is an excellent swap for sherry vinegar. For every tablespoon of white wine vinegar add half a teaspoon of sherry wine while preparing this mixture.
5. Red Wine Vinegar
Red wine vinegar is made from, yup, red wine. Besides the acetic acid flavor, it has a more vibrant grape flavor. Of all the wine vinegars, red wine vinegar seems to be punchier, hot, and robust.
Most of us love red wine vinegar for its complex and bold taste. Anyways, it is much stronger than sherry vinegar.
When you use red wine vinegar as a sherry vinegar substitute, start by using less.
This substitute works best in something hearty like roasted vegetables or meat. Just drizzle it over pasta salad, green salad, or vinegary French potato salad in place of sherry vinegar.
6. Lemon/Lime Juice
Citrus juice like lemon or lime is the best natural substitute for any type of vinegar.
Vinegars contain acetic acid but the lemon juice contains citric acid. So it is obvious that the flavor profile of lemon juice is quite different from vinegars.
But when you don’t have sherry vinegar, one or two teaspoons of lemon juice can provide the appealing flavor of vinegar to your dishes.
Sherry is a fortified wine made from white grapes that are grown in Andalusia, Spain.
Sherry wine on its own can work as a sherry vinegar substitute in some dishes. This can provide the fruity flavor of sherry to your dishes.
Most chefs prefer to use a blend of sherry and white or red wine vinegar in a 1:1 ratio instead of using sherry wine alone.
Importantly, the flavor of sherry can vary according to the type of sherry used. Preferably, use dry sherry for substituting sherry wine vinegar.
As a word of caution, cooking with any alcoholic beverage like sherry adds alcoholic content to your dish. Thus it is not a perfect substitute option for people who strictly avoid alcohol.
The Bottom Line
Apple cider vinegar and red or white wine vinegars will work as a suitable sherry vinegar substitute.
If you have sherry wine on hand, simply drizzle it with any other vinegar to take care of the sherry flavor.
The ultimate choice for you is none other than the humble lemon juice which is a universal substitute for any vinegar.