8 AMAZING Substitutes for Red Wine in Bolognese Sauce

If you love making Bolognese sauce but you’re either out of red wine or you just don’t want to use it, that’s all right because there are ways of getting around this.

The best substitute for red wine in Bolognese sauce is beef broth, but you can also use sherry, brandy, coffee, chocolate, cranberry juice, port wine, peach nectar, and a few additional options.

Some of these items can be used as they are, while others will need a few alterations to make them work.

What Is Bolognese Sauce?

Bolognese sauce that needs a substitute for red wine

Like any other sauce, Bolognese sauce has changed throughout the years, but it is essentially a flavorful meat sauce made of ground beef and tomatoes. These days, a lot of people use ground-up flank steak instead of ground beef, and they add beef broth and milk, then simmer it for hours.

Unlike other tomato-based sauces, traditional Bolognese sauce is usually not quite as heavy on the tomatoes, but the slow-cooking method results in a much richer flavor.

Instead of making this Italian meat sauce from scratch, a lot of people simply add pasta sauce from a jar, but it’s up to you how you want to make your Bolognese sauce. When it comes to alternatives to red wine in your sauce, below are a handful of suggestions to consider. It’s your choice.

Substitutes for Red Wine

1. Beef Broth

You can substitute any type of broth for the red wine, but beef broth tends to taste better. Just use the same amount of broth as you would red wine, but keep in mind that the broth will be a little saltier than wine, so you may want to cut back on the salt you use in the recipe.

2. Sherry

Bottle and glass of sherry that can work as substitute for red wine in Bolognese

Sherry is a fortified wine that is sometimes considered a type of white wine because it is made from white grapes, but it is a bit different.

If you’re going to use sherry, make sure it’s a cooking sherry. If you can, buy the fino type of sherry. If you can’t find fino, the next best type of sherry is Amontillado.

3. Brandy

Brandy is an effective substitute for red wine, but you’ll have to use smaller amounts to make the sauce taste right. Try using 1/3 to 1/2 cup for the best results. Keep in mind that brandy is a tad more potent than red wine.

4. Coffee

It may sound weird, but coffee can be used instead of red wine in your Bolognese sauce. Brew it strong and use dark roast or espresso roast. Use a French press for the best results.

Keep in mind that the caffeine will not cook out of your sauce. You can use decaf coffee to reduce the bitterness that sometimes results from coffee this strong.

5. Chocolate

Both chocolate and red wine are full of tannins, which add just a touch of bitterness to your Bolognese sauce. Use milk chocolate instead of dark chocolate for a slightly sweeter taste.

6. Unsweetened Cranberry Juice

Container of cranberry juice that can work as substitute for red wine in Bolognese

The cranberry juice you use can be fresh or canned, but it must be unsweetened! If it ends up being too strong, try to even out the taste with a little orange juice.

7. Port Wine

Port wine is fortified and is a tad sweeter than red wine. It also has a deeper, darker color. It’s concentrated but uses the same grapes as red wine, so you might have to use a little less port wine than you would red wine.

8. Peach Nectar

The only problem with using peach nectar is that you usually have to make it, and this requires letting it simmer on the stove for several hours. Nevertheless, it’s a great way to enjoy Bolognese sauce without red wine.

You can use other foods as well, such as ginger beer, vinegar, and some types of fruit juice. Just use a tiny amount with a bit of tomato sauce to see how each tastes.