Red wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar are two of the more popular vinegars and each of them can bring something unique to your dishes. If you are trying to decide which one to use for a particular dish, take a look at our SPICEography Showdown.
How does red wine vinegar differ from apple cider vinegar?
Red wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar have different beginnings. Red wine vinegar is made from red wine as the name indicates. Different kinds of red wine may be used to make it with each type of wine creating a unique kind of red wine vinegar. The red wine comes from fermenting the juice from wine grapes.
Apple cider vinegar is made by allowing apples and water to ferment until they make apple cider, which is then fermented to turn into apple cider vinegar.
Red wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar have different appearances. Red wine vinegar is typically translucent and deep red, but its shade can vary significantly. It can be almost pink or it can have a deep maroon color. Apple cider vinegar is typically an amber color and can be cloudy or translucent.
These vinegars each have unique flavors as well. Red wine vinegar is known for its strong acidity and sharpness. Apple cider vinegar has a mellow fruitiness with the strong taste of fermented apples. It is a relatively mild vinegar.
Can you use red wine vinegar as a substitute for apple cider vinegar and vice versa?
Red wine vinegar can work as an apple cider vinegar substitute since the function of each is to provide acidity and both have high acidity in common.
However, it will not be ideal since it lacks the apple flavor of apple cider vinegar. It is also more acidic so you will need to either reduce the amount that you use or add a sweetener to tone it down. Keep in mind that red wine vinegar is pinkish so it might not disappear as well into some foods as well as apple cider vinegar would.
Apple cider vinegar can be a good substitute for red wine vinegar if what your dish needs is a little tartness or if it can benefit from the apple flavor and mellower tang. In some cases, the stronger apple flavor of apple cider vinegar and its slight sweetness may be undesirable in some recipes that require red wine vinegar.
While you can make red wine vinegar sweeter to make it more like apple cider vinegar, it is impossible to remove the sweetness of apple cider vinegar to make it more like red wine vinegar.
When should you use red wine vinegar and when should you use apple cider vinegar?
Red wine vinegar’s intense acidity makes it perfect for marinades, especially for tough cuts and strongly flavored meats. The acetic acid it contains can act as a meat tenderizer while also helping to eliminate undesirable flavors.
Red wine vinegar is also a popular ingredient in vinaigrettes and can be good for pickling some vegetables if you don’t mint the pinkish hue that it will give to them.
Apple cider vinegar is also good for marinades. While it is not as acidic as red wine vinegar, it is still acidic enough to act as a meat tenderizer. Its fruity apple flavor is especially complementary to pork. Use it in vinaigrettes and as a braising liquid.