Many classic French and Italian recipes list white wine as an ingredient, directing the cook to simmer the liquid until it is reduced a bit and the alcohol has burned off. The wine adds acidity, which can help to break down protein structures of meat and deglaze pans (getting all the tasty browned bits off the bottom of a pan after searing a pot roast, for example).
Wine also helps bring out the flavors of the other ingredients in the dish. Shrimp scampi, steamed mussels, and chicken piccata are all recipes that require white wine, as well as several French sauces such as velouté and beurre blanc. But if you find yourself without—or simply prefer not to cook with wine—there are several nonalcoholic substitutes that will work beautifully in the wine's place.
Apple Cider Vinegar
If you happen to have it on hand, apple cider vinegar is a great substitute for white wine. It's slightly sweet like the wine and has a similarly aged depth. Add the same amount of vinegar as the amount of wine called for in the recipe.
Chicken or Vegetable Broth
Replace the white wine called for with an equal amount of chicken broth (vegetable broth will work, too). This will add depth to the recipe, even if it changes the flavor a bit. If you are using broth that is even slightly salted, you will want to taste the dish you're making before adding any additional salt.
If the recipe calls for a sweeter white wine, you can swap in apple juice; it will add that bit of sweetness that the wine would contribute. Since apple juice is sweeter than wine, though, add a splash of vinegar or lemon juice to dial it back a bit. Use caution when using this option in savory or salty recipes.
White Grape Juice
Keep that white grape flavor in your recipe by using white grape juice in place of the white wine. It will be quite a bit sweeter than the wine, so you will need to add a bit of vinegar or lemon juice to balance the flavor. Use caution when using this option in savory or salty recipes.
White Wine Vinegar
If your recipe calls for a dry white wine, white wine vinegar is a solid alcohol-free option. Since it's made from white wine, it will have some of the intended flavors—but keep in mind that it will be much more acidic. Dilute the vinegar with water to tame the acidity; a mix of 50 percent vinegar and 50 percent water should do the trick.
This may seem like an odd suggestion, but ginger ale has that same sort of dry, sweet taste as white wine, so it works nicely. Replace in a recipe calling for sweet white wine with an equal amount of ginger ale.
If you don't have any of these other ingredients on hand, replace the wine called for with 3/4 the amount of water. (So, a recipe calling for 1 cup of wine could be replaced with 3/4 cup of water.) It won't enhance the flavor of your recipe, but it will keep the liquid volumes as intended, ensuring that your dish doesn't turn out dry.