Substitutes for Sherry Vinegar + How to Make Your Own

Bottle of Columela brand sherry vinegar

Wine vinegar is often used in cooking around the world, but one of its sub-types – sherry vinegar – is considered to be a gourmet dressing and is known both for its taste and its method of production.

The Best Sherry Vinegar Substitutes Are:

  • Rice wine vinegar
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Wine vinegar (red and white)
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Champagne vinegar
  • Sherry

It’s time to look at what can be substituted for sherry vinegar if there is none available at home. Sherry vinegar is a type of vinegar that, like balsamic vinegar, has a special method of production.

What Is Sherry Vinegar?

Sherry vinegar is a subtype of wine vinegar produced from sherry. For those who don’t know, sherry is a type of fortified wine produced from special white grapes that grow in the south of Spain. This is why sherry vinegar is also a Spanish product, as it is produced in the province of Cádiz, in the so-called “sherry triangle,” an area between three Spanish cities in the aforementioned province. It is also called vinagre de Jerez.

Sherry vinegar has three varieties based on the types of grapes used; they are Palominoal Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel. It can also be divided into three specific age groups based on the time it aged in the wood. They are vinagre de Jerez (min. 6 months in wood), vinagre de Jerez Reserva (min. 2 years in wood), and vinagre de Jerez Gran Reserva (min. 10 years in wood).

Substitute for Sherry Vinegar

You might not have sherry vinegar, and it may rarely be on the top of your shopping list. Luckily, like most other types of vinegar, sherry vinegar can be substituted with other types of vinegar that have similar taste and acidity levels.

These substitutes should give the impression that you’re actually consuming sherry vinegar or at least have the same flavor effects on meals.

Although they are not the same as the original, they’ll probably do a good enough job when there isn’t any actual sherry vinegar nearby.

Here is a list of the best sherry vinegar substitutes:

Rice (Wine) Vinegar Substitute

Most experts agree that rice vinegar is actually the best possible substitute for sherry vinegar. Rice vinegar is generally a milder flavor. It has a sweet taste and is less acidic than most other types of vinegar. Since sherry vinegar shares a lot of these characteristics, it is very clear why Asian vinegar is a good substitute. Plus, rice vinegar is often a lot cheaper than actual sherry vinegar.

Apple Cider Vinegar Substitute

This type of vinegar is a solid second option if you don’t like rice vinegar. It is also very mild, not overly acidic and has a sweet taste – all of which fit the criteria for a sherry vinegar substitute.

Apple cider vinegar is still more acidic than regular sherry vinegar, so be prepared to balance that out with something like sugar. This type of vinegar is also readily available and can be picked up from any local store and used in cooking.

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Apple cider vinegar will work with most dishes (but not all of them), so be attentive and carefully examine your recipe before deciding on which type of vinegar to use.

Wine Vinegar Substitute

Both red and white wine vinegar work well as a substitute for sherry vinegar.

White wine vinegar is – on a general level – a better choice because of its milder flavor and lower acidity level, but red wine vinegar also works well.

Red wine vinegar may need to be neutralized due to its somewhat stronger flavor. It may also be a good idea to start with less and then add more of it if needed during the preparation phase. Red wine vinegar is much more acidic than white wine vinegar and can easily overwhelm a dish. It is best used as a sherry substitute for a gazpacho or vinaigrette.

White wine vinegar works best as a sherry substitute for lighter dishes like those that use fish or poultry.

The general ratio is one tablespoon of sherry vinegar, which equals one tablespoon of white wine vinegar or a bit less red wine vinegar.

Balsamic Vinegar Substitute

The famous Italian aceto balsamico is also a solid substitute due to its sweet taste and relatively mild acidity. It works well with a lot of meals where sherry vinegar is used.

Balsamic vinegar has a characteristic flavor that might not go with some meals since the flavor is somewhat different than that of sherry vinegar. A balsamic vinegar substitute is best suited for marinades, salad dressings, or glazes.

The general ratio here would be one to two teaspoons of balsamic vinegar for one tablespoon of sherry.

Champagne Vinegar Substitute

This mild type of vinegar is also a good choice and many people’s favorite sherry substitutes. A champagne vinegar substitute offers a flavor that is not overly strong, is mildly acidic and has a sweeter taste. Some things may need to be tweaked along the way, depending on the dish, but overall, it is a pretty similar replacement.

It is a more delicate vinegar and, while sweet, isn’t as sweet as sherry vinegar. If you plan on using this sherry substitute in a salad dressing, it is recommended to add honey or even a bit of balsamic.

The general ratio for a champagne vinegar substitute is one tablespoon to one tablespoon of sherry vinegar.

Sherry Substitute

Yes, even sherry itself can be used as a replacement for sherry wine vinegar, which seems logical, doesn’t it? Although sherry is alcohol and sherry vinegar is vinegar, they can be used interchangeably in some meals.

They have a lot in common, with the main difference being the acidity – sherry wine is not that acidic, but it will still work well with some meals, depending on what is being prepared. The alcohol is cooked out, and what’s left is a similar flavor profile to sherry vinegar. Other wines can also be used in this aspect because they work on a similar basis as sherry.

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All of the above-mentioned substitutes are either vinegars or are based on alcohol. But sherry vinegar can also be substituted by some non-alcoholic ingredients, which we will discuss below.

Non-Vinegar / Non-Alcoholic Substitutes for Sherry Vinegar

Some of the items on the list might seem odd, but they can be used as a substitute and are similar to sherry vinegar.

Half sliced lemon and lime sitting next to each other

Lemon and Lime Juice

Lemon and lime juices are usually good substitutes for vinegars because of the combination of sweetness and acidity. This is especially true for sherry vinegar, which is generally milder and sweeter than others.

Lemon and lime can almost always be used interchangeably. Just make sure the lemon’s characteristic flavor or the lime’s flavor will work well with the meal that requires sherry vinegar.

Lemon juice is a very forward citrus flavor that adds brightness to any dish. It also adds a touch of freshness that can help balance out a heavier dish. Before using lemon juice or lime juice as a replacement, check and see if the citrus goes well with the rest of the recipe.

A general ratio of lime or lemon juice is one to two tablespoons to one tablespoon of sherry vinegar.

Other Fruit Juice Options

Like lime, other fruit juice options can also be used as substitutes for sherry vinegar. The most important thing is that they have the necessary sweetness, although something might need to be done about the acidity.

A solid option is apricot juice, but also other citrus-based juices, which are somewhat similar to lemon and lime juices, as explained above.

Vanilla (Extract)

This might look like the oddest item on the list, but yes – vanilla (extract) can also be a good replacement for sherry vinegar in some cases. It has to be a liquid extract, and the usual ratio here is 1:1. You can use both alcoholic and non-alcoholic vanilla extract.

The extract is usually very mild, and it has the necessary sweetness, but something will need to be done about the acidity. Also, if there’s not enough liquid there to use, add some water.

Distilled White Vinegar

Corked clear bottle of distilled white vinegar

Distilled white vinegar can be used as a replacement for sherry vinegar in some recipes, but it must be noted that the flavor profile is different. While sherry vinegar has a distinct and complex flavor along with nutty and fruity notes, white distilled vinegar is clear, very acidic, and has no additional elements of flavor.

So, when using white vinegar as a sherry vinegar replacement, some changes need to be made. Since it is strong, it should be diluted with water. A 1:1 ratio is good and can be adjusted to taste. This mellows the flavor and helps with the acidity.

Since sherry vinegar has a subtle sweetness, add a small amount of sugar or a sweetener like honey or agave nectar to the white vinegar and water mixture. For the nutty flavor, a small amount of almond or hazelnut extract can be used.

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Finally, to mimic the aging that is achieved when sherry vinegar is aged in oak barrels, add a pinch of oak-aged spirits like bourbon or whiskey to the white vinegar mixture.

Is Sherry Vinegar the Same as Cooking Sherry Wine?

Close-up of sherry vinegar pouring into clear bowl

Sherry vinegar and a sherry cooking wine are two completely different things. Sherry cooking wine is a real wine that contains alcohol and salt, while in sherry vinegar, alcohol is converted to vinegar. It usually doesn’t contain salt.

How to Make Sherry Vinegar at Home

It is very easy to make Sherry vinegar at home. Okay, it won’t be the same as the real one, but it will be pretty close.

All you need to have for making sherry vinegar at home are sherry, water, and vinegar starter.

First, spread out the vinegar starter all over the bowl, then add water to dilute the strong taste of the sherry wine. It is best to combine two glasses of sherry wine with four glasses of water.

Now, fasten the cover over the bowl and let it stand for a minimum of three weeks.

And that’s it — homemade sherry vinegar to use.

In Conclusion

This has been a thorough analysis of sherry vinegar. You now know what sherry vinegar is, where and how it is made, and what types there are. Like most other vinegars, the usually expensive and not always available sherry vinegar can be substituted with other ingredients, mostly other vinegars with similar characteristics.

Substitute for Sherry Vinegar: FAQ

What vinegar is closest to sherry vinegar?

When looking for the best sherry vinegar substitute and one that is closest to the flavor of sherry vinegar, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, white wine vinegar, or a champagne vinegar substitute are the closest. These have about the same level of acidity as well as some of the same flavor aspects of sherry vinegar.

Is sherry vinegar the same thing as red wine vinegar?

No, sherry vinegar is not the same as red wine vinegar, but can be used as a suitable substitute. Red wine vinegar is made from red wine using a fermentation process that converts the alcohol into acetic acid.

Sherry vinegar is made from sherry wine and is often aged in oak barrels. They have different production methods, different origins, and different flavor profiles, so consider this when using a red wine vinegar substitute.

What is a substitute for dry sherry?

Dry white wine, chicken or vegetable broth, rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, white grape juice, marsala wine, or dry vermouth are all great substitutes for dry sherry in a recipe. Just keep in mind that the replacement will alter the final taste of the dish. So, a substitute that complements the other ingredients is recommended.

Is raspberry vinegar a good sherry vinegar substitute?

Raspberry vinegar isn’t considered a good sherry vinegar substitute because it has a very distinct fruity flavor that is different than the nutty and complex flavor and profile of sherry vinegar.