11 Chianti Substitutes [Alcoholic & Non – Alcoholic]

You’ve already started cooking your weeknight ravioli with chianti sauce, but you’re missing the key ingredient. Or perhaps you only need a small splash in a steak marinade for a much more subtle taste.

The liquor store is closed or just a bit out of the way, or just doesn’t have Chianti in general. The ovens already warmed up.

No sweat–there are plenty of substitutes that are equally as delicious and can take the place of Chianti both as a major and minor ingredient.

Alternatives include alcoholic and non-alcoholic ingredients, and can be found in almost every kitchen. So what happens when you’re out of Chianti?

When cooking, two of the best wine substitutes for Chianti are Merlot and Shiraz. Red wine vinegar is also an excellent substitute for Chianti when preparing meat, fish, or vegetables, as the flavor and texture are quite similar. When it comes to juices–which are rich in antioxidants–one can also use cranberry juice, pomegranate juice, red grape juice, tomato juice, or apple juice. If none of these things are lying around, beef stock or ginger ale can make excellent alternatives when preparing a marinade. If it is a dire situation, with no other ingredient available, one can even make do with water.

Chianti Substitutes

1. Shiraz


Shiraz, also known as Syrah, is a dark red wine that comes from southeastern France. If you happen to have a bottle around the house, this will make for an excellent Chianti substitute.

It has a similar consistency, parallel flavor palette, and resonates with flavors in a similar way. Shiraz, like Chianti, tends to be a bold, full-bodied wine. It is heavily aromatic and tends to have a fruity taste to it.

2. Merlot

Merlot is also one of the best wine alternatives to Chianti. It can also be much easier to find and is stocked in almost every liquor store.

It is made with grapes that have a similar essence to Sangiovese grapes, which are used to make Chianti.

Merlot can imply a wide variety of flavors, and therefore can be a bit inconsistent. Try to find a Merlot that is darker, full-bodied, and bold if you can.

This will produce a result much more similar to that of Chianti than a lighter, more delicate Merlot.

3. Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is frequently considered one of the best alternatives for Chianti and can be used in just about any dish that Chianti is used in.

It also happens to be one of the most popular red wines, and nearly every major wine producing country has its own version of this.

Cabernet Sauvignon is a great option because it mimics the texture and color of Chianti. It also has a similar acidity level, and when cooked in with a meal bears an incredibly similar flavor.

Cabernet Suavignon’s can also can be comprised partially from the Sangiovese grape, which is used to make Chianti.

4. Red Wine Vinegar

If you are looking for something you are more likely to have around the kitchen, red wine vinegar is a great bet.

Red wine vinegar has a flavor quite similar to red wine, and the vinegar tends to not be pungent enough to interrupt the flavor palette of the dish.

In fact, it can further amplify the flavor palette and bring out some of the more subtle undertones within a dish.

Red wine vinegar can be best used when substituting for Chianti in a dish involving beef or vegetables. It is also commonly used in marinades and salad dressings.

5. Cranberry Juice

If alcohol is not a part of your diet or you are looking for a non-alcoholic option, cranberry juice poses a solution.

If you are already cooking something sweet, and also have a sweetened cranberry juice, be wary of oversweetening the dish.

A way to get around this is to add a little bit of vinegar to the cranberry juice before adding it to your recipe in order to balance the sweetness.

Cranberry juice

Cranberry juice poses such a great option as a Chianti substitute because it has a similar color, flavor, richness, and acidity to Chianti.

It also has health benefits, as it can reduce inflammation and is rich in antioxidants.

6. Pomegranate Juice

Pomegranate juice is a lovely Chianti substitute for similar reasons to cranberry juice. It has a bold, fruity flavor, similar to Chianti, as well as a similar texture and color.

A downside to pomegranate juice, however, is that it is not as acidic as red wine.

To counteract this negative, mix your pomegranate juice with a little bit of vinegar and you’re good to go.

Pomegranate Juice

In addition to being a delicious and non-alcoholic Chianti substitute, pomegranate juice also has numerous health benefits.

It has fiber, Vitamin C, and Potassium and can help lower blood pressure. It is also rich in antioxidants.

7. Red Grape Juice

Grape juice, particularly red grape juice, is an excellent Chianti substitute that contains no alcohol.

This probably isn’t much of a surprise, as it is also made from red grapes and can have quite a similar color and flavor to red wine, despite the acidity.

To mimic some of this acidity, feel free to add a little bit of vinegar or mix red grape juice with red wine vinegar. This will give it the bitterness that Chianti tends to have.

Red Grape Juice

Red grape juice, when used as a substitute for Chianti, is best used as a marinade for vegetables, steak, pork, or lamb.

It also has multiple health benefits and is rich in antioxidants. It can boost immune health and work to lower blood pressure.

8. Tomato Juice

Tomato juice is one of the few juices that already has a high level of acidity, which makes it a perfect substitute for Chianti.

It can also be a more health-conscious option, as it is rich in vitamins and nutrients–providing over 20–and also has antioxidants.

 9. Ginger Ale

Ginger Ale

Ginger ale can be an exquisite replacement for Chianti in a meat marinade if used the right way.

It has a high acidity level, similar to wine, which makes it a great option for using Chianti to marinate meat.

Because of its acidity, it helps break down the proteins in the meat, making it more tender.

10. Beef Stock

Beef stock, if you have it in the house, can be a great option to use in place of Chianti when cooking just about any prepared dish. It does have some differences to be aware of, however.

It tends to be milder and much less acidic, but its dark and hearty flavor still leans closer to the flavor of a good Chianti.

If you choose to use beef stock as a substitute, replace the Chianti at an equal ratio with the beef stock.

As with other alternatives on this list, if you want to kick it up a notch add a teaspoon or two of vinegar to the beef stock before mixing it into the recipe.

11. Water

If you’re really at your last option and have nothing else in the house, water can ultimately be used as a Chianti substitute.

Water won’t contribute to the flavor of the dish, but it will keep it moist. It is recommended to add either a little vinegar or sugar to the water before mixing it in to kick up the flavor a little.

What Makes Chianti Unique?

Chianti–a small, landlocked region of Italy best known for its signature red wine. A wine so versatile and delicious that it is commonly used in a wide range of recipes.

From a Steak and Mushroom skillet to Chianti Affogato to a lasagna like a grandma used to make, Chianti can be used for almost all occasions.

The most prominent grape in the region of Chianti is the Sangiovese. For it to be considered an “authentic” Chianti, it must be comprised of at least 70% Sangiovese grapes.

This gives it a particular Terra Noir, an earthy and savory flavor not found elsewhere in the world.

Tourists come from all over to visit the Chianti region, which is not only known for its wine but has a gorgeous landscape and is rich in art and food history.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Can I Get Chianti?

Most large liquor stores and grocery stores sell Chianti, however, it may be harder to find at smaller alcohol-selling venues or grocery stores. 

How Do I Know It’s Real Chianti?

Real Chianti is made up of 70% Sangiovese grapes from the Chianti region of Italy. If the percentage of Sangiovese grapes is any less than this, it is not a true Chianti.

Final Consideration

Ultimately, Chianti is not a difficult wine to find substitutes for. As is visible above, there are many good options that provide an equally delicious result.

Many of these options also have health benefits, an added perk to using a Chianti substitute.

Some of these options, however, may need a little tampering. For instance, adding vinegar to the less-acidic juices can produce a result that tastes closer to Chianti.

No matter which of these options you use, your dish will turn out delicious. It is important to remember that cooking can be flexible, and if one ingredient is difficult to find or not a good option for you, there are plenty more options.

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