Is sherry vinegar the same as sherry cooking wine?

People often ask this question: ‘Is sherry vinegar the same as sherry cooking wine?’. Well, the answer is not really. Sherry vinegar is more acidic in flavor compared to sherry wine. So if you want to substitute sherry vinegar, you need to opt for other categories of vinegar like cider, white wine, and balsamic.

People often end up using sherry cooking wine instead of sherry vinegar, thinking that both are similar ingredients. But the reality is sherry cooking wine will just do the job of wine and cannot become an alternative for vinegar. In article, we will be covering the difference between sherry vinegar & cooking sherry wine on the basis of their function, texture, taste etc.

What is a Sherry Vinegar?

It is gourmet wine that is made from the sherry. Sherry is fortified wine which is extracted or made from Palomino, Pedro Ximenez and Muscat, three white grapes popular in Spain. These grapes are also used in manufacturing sherry vinegar. These three grapes are very unique in taste and have a distinctive flavor which makes the vinegar unique. Palomino provides the vinegar with light & tangy taste whereas the other two grapes give a rich flavor and slightly sweet flavor to the wine balancing the acidic punch. This vinegar is fermented in oaks for more than six months. The longer the richer and more concentrated.

What is Cooking Sherry Wine?

This is not a pure cooking wine. It is a cheap wine which copies the color and flavor of authentic sherry wine. It is solely used for cooking purposes and has added salt in it. Despite being termed as a wine, one cannot have it like traditional wines or add in cocktails. Though it looks like wine it does not taste like traditional wine at all.

Difference between sherry vinegar & cooking sherry wine

Though Sherry vinegar and cooking sherry wine wine might look like the same thing as they both are used to enhance the flavor of food, there are several differences between the two ingredients. While their origins are the same, the purpose why they are used in food is completely different. Sherry vinegar have an acidic taste and is a fermented wine turned into vinegar, on the other hand, cooking sherry does have some splash of alcohol in it which is mostly used to sweeten a dish.

  • Origin: Both the ingredients and the products are made from the popular rich sherry wine. The popular sherry wine is made in the Jerez region (Southern Spain). Sherry vinegar is solely made from sherry wine, though it is a bit old, it is made from pure sherry. Whereas, Cooking Sherry wine is a cooking wine that is diluted with brandy and extra salt is added. It is not derived from pure sherry.
  • Taste: While Sherry vinegar is crisp and acidic in taste it provides both nutty & caramel-like flavors, Cooking Sherry wine typically tastes like some dry sherry with slight flavors of sweetness in it. In a nutshell, though the base taste of the two products is the same one has an acidic flavor and the other has a sweet & nutty flavor.
  • Shelf life: Taking about the shelf life Sherry vinegar even without refrigeration has lengthier shelf life compared to sherry cooking wine. Cooking sherry wine, on the other hand, does not have a much longer shelf. It can be kept in the refrigerator unopened for twelve months but if you open it once you have to use it within the next 3 to 4 weeks. Just like other kinds of vinegar and cooking wines, these two have similar shelf lives.
  • Color: Sherry cooking wine is mostly available in a light and golden color although other variations like red and mahogany are also available in the market. Sherry vinegar is solely available as an intense rich amber or mahogany color.

In sherry vinegar, the alcohol percentage is 3% whereas in sherry cooking wine the alcohol percentage is 17%. So if you see on an overall basis the sherry vinegar and sherry cooking wine though derived from sherry are way too different from each other.

Cooking with sherry cooking wine and sherry vinegar

Sherry cooking wine can be used in any dish that requires white wine in it. Sherry can be used both as a sweet or nutty salty wine. Mostly it is used in seafood dishes to enhance the saline flavors and aromas.

Sherry vinegar have a complex flavor. It is added to different savoury dishes to bring on the freshness, especially in stews and soups. Some cooks also reduce sherry vinegar and use it as a glaze on duck, chick, fish & beef. Compared to sherry cooking wine, sherry vinegar have a versatile usage.

Can you use sherry cooking wine instead of sherry vinegar?

The clear answer is a big NO! You cannot use sherry cooking wine as an alternative for sherry vinegar solely because of the flavors. Sherry vinegar is acidic and sherry cooking wine is sweet in taste therefore any way they both cannot act as an alternative for each other.

However, if you want to substitute sherry cooking wine with sherry vinegar you can do that by adding some white or dry red wine with sherry vinegar. The flavors will come out the same. You can also substitute sherry cooking wine with pure sherry wine or other categories of wine such as Marsala, Madeira & port. In case you are looking for a natural sweetener in certain dishes which is non-alcoholic you can try mixing regular vinegar, sugar and water or vinegar and chick stock water.

What are the best substitutes for sherry vinegar?

The best substitute for sherry vinegar is non-seasoned good quality rice vinegar, white or red wine vinegar, champagne vinegar or some lemon juice. Obviously, the flavors won’t be the same as authentic sherry vinegar, but you can still get a similar flavor like sherry vinegar.


Though sherry vinegar is used worldwide to enhance flavors of savoury and meaty dishes, sherry cooking wine is not quite recommended by professional chefs. Rather it is suggested to use pure sherry wine. However, if you are looking for something cheaper, you can go sherry cooking wine. 

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