The world of salads is a wonderful wide world with as many varieties as there are languages in the world, perhaps more. One of the most popular salads known to the world is the Greek Salad. The salad combines cucumbers, feta cheese, Roma tomatoes, kalamata olives, red onions and green pepper all dressed in red wine vinegar. The majority of ingredients are very easy to find all the world over all the year round but red wine vinegar isn’t always available. Or perhaps you find yourself in the middle of making a Greek salad then realise you’re short on red wine vinegar. Are there substitutes for red wine vinegar in Greek salad? Yes! To understand how well these substitutes work let’s first understand red wine vinegar.
Red Wine Vinegar
Red wine vinegar is an umbrella term for vinegar that is made from any red wine base. The red wine is further fermented and distilled to arrive at red wine vinegar. Some varieties are made from specific choice wines such as merlot or pinot noir. Red wine vinegar is 95% water and contains no fat or protein making it a low-calorie salad dressing choice. Wine vinegars are required to have at least 6% acetic acid. The combination of this high acetic acid content and red wine vinegar’s tangy flavour make it a favourite for pickling and cooking as well. Its flavour is a sour, bitter tang with hints of fruit. Now we understand red wine vinegar let’s measure up the substitutes.
White Wine Vinegar
Perhaps this is a bit of an obvious substitute and it may well be one of the best. Made from a similar process with the only difference being the variety of wine used in the base, white wine vinegar makes a great red wine vinegar substitute for your Greek salad. The colour difference may not work well for people who love the way red wine vinegar brings additional colour to the Greek salad but if this doesn’t bother you it will work for you. Greek salads are as colourful as salads can be so this shouldn’t be a major issue. From a flavour perspective, white wine vinegar is the best substitute for red wine vinegar in Greek salad.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Another very popular vinegar is apple cider vinegar and you are likely to find this very easily. You can use apple cider vinegar as a substitute for red wine vinegar in Greek salad though there are a few caveats. The first being the flavour. Apple cider vinegar has a more fruity flavour than red wine vinegar. Apple cider vinegar has around 5-6% acetic acid so it will have an ever so slightly less bitter taste than red wine vinegar. Apple cider is also low calorie and widely used for its health benefits just like red wine vinegar. If you’re open to a more fruity flavour in your Greek salad dressing then try apple cider vinegar.
Another viable substitute for red wine vinegar in Greek salad is sherry vinegar. This vinegar is made from sherry which itself has a very interesting process behind its production. Sherry is a fortified wine. After the fermentation process distilled wine is added to sherry and it is ready for consumption. To make sherry vinegar it is aged and oxygenated for 6 months. Sherry is an aperitif which is a designation for dry wines usually served as appetisers before a meal. So sherry vinegar will have a dryness to it. It does bring colour though it is more of a brown than the red of red wine vinegar. Sherry vinegar will bring a rich, nutty and slightly sweet flavour to your Greek salad.
Rice Wine Vinegar
Rice wine vinegar or just rice vinegar is an alternative for red wine vinegar in Greek salad. However, this is really for those who are looking for a different flavour or badly need a substitute and just can’t get their hands on red wine vinegar. Rice vinegar is a product of South-east Asian cuisine hailing from China, Korea and Japan. As the name suggests it is made from fermented rice and is a pale yellow liquid. It is used in treating the rice used in making sushi, maki or kimbap. This vinegar has lower acetic acid content than most other vinegars so you will find it has a milder flavour among vinegars. On the downside, because it is a speciality ingredient it may be harder to find than red wine vinegar.
If you want to be a little more adventurous you can try champagne vinegar as a red wine vinegar substitute in Greek salad. Champagne vinegar has a mild, floral taste that’s slightly sweeter than other wine vinegars. The vinegar is made from the sparkling wine of the same name using either chardonnay or pinot noir grapes. The difference in flavour may work very well in contrast with savoury flavoured ingredients such as the green peppers, feta cheese and kalamata olives. However, champagne vinegar may not prove as easy to find as other substitutes on this list. If you do find it you’ll be happy to know it usually won’t cost much more than red wine vinegar.
Lemon / Lime Juice
Admittedly this substitute for red wine vinegar in Greek salad may be the furthest from red wine vinegar but it will probably be the easiest for most people to get their hands on. Whether you buy the fruits and squeeze the juice yourself or you look for bottled versions in the supermarket lemon and/or lime juice are going to be easy to get your hands on. The downside is that citrus fruits have citric acid instead of acetic acid so the flavours are very different. That said lemon or lime juice can work very well in a Greek salad.
You have a few substitutes for red wine vinegar in Greek salad to choose from. You can work out which to use based on availability and whether or not you want a flavour match or you’re willing to experiment a little bit.