It can be quite confusing with different terminologies, different interpretations and different products, to understand which, if any, cooking wines or vinegars are halal.
In general, cooking wines that include regular alcoholic wine, rice wine and mirin are haram. They all contain alcohol. Most of the vinegars are considered halal as they have undergone a chemical process to render them non alcoholic.
We need to explore further the world of cooking wines and vinegars to see what is halal or haram and where the contentious areas are.
Is cooking with wine halal?
This is a pretty sweeping statement and “wine” can be a hugely diverse category. It is best to break it up to get clarity.
Is cooking with drinking wine halal?
For this subsection, when i are discussing drinking wine i mean…
- Dry red and white wines
- Dry nutty/oxidised wine
- Sweet nutty/oxidised wine
- Sweet fortified red wines such as port
- Sweet white wine
- Sweet fortified white wine such as sherry
This is not an exhaustive list but you get the gist. I mean the whole breadth of the normal alcoholic drinking wines.
Is drinking wine halal?
Ok, so this is an obvious one. Alcohol is haram, that is a given. The Prophet Muhammad says in the Quran “Every intoxicant is Khamr and every intoxicant is forbidden. He who drinks wine in this world and dies while he is addicted to it, not having repented, will not be given a drink in the Hereafter.”
So if the wine from the bottle is haram, does cooking it make it halal? Does the alcohol get burned off?
Is cooking with drinking wine halal?
For an observant muslim to be able to eat a food after it was cooked with wine, they would have to be completely sure all the alcohol was gone. Unfortunately that just cant be the case.
Research from The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Nutrient Data Laboratory looked at exactly how long it does take to burn off alcohol in cooking.
|Cooking technique||Alcohol % remaining|
|Cooking for >2.5hrs||0%|
|Cooking for 2hrs||5%|
|Cooking for 1hr||25%|
|Cooking/simmering for 15mins||40%|
|Flambé once flames die down||75%|
So you can see you have to cook wine for a long time for it to potentially be alcohol free and there is not guarantee. For this reason it is still considered haram even post cooking.
Is cooking with alcohol free wine halal?
If thinking about alcoholic wine was easy, the non alcoholic and alcohol free wines need a bit of thought. Can they be halal and then if cooked with, is the food halal?
Is non alcoholic wine halal?
As a general rule, non alcoholic wines, labelled as “alcohol free” can be Halal. The wine needs to be 0.0% ABV for the strict Islamic Law to deem it Halal. Certain wine brands have gone as far as to get specific Halal Certifications. Not all non or low alcoholic wines are alcohol free meaning it is critical to read the label
I have written on this topic here
In my mind there are a few different categories, see table below.
|ABV %||Likelihood of being considered Halal|
|<1.2% – Low alcohol||Very unlikely to be considered Halal|
|<0.5% – Non alcoholic||Possibly can be considered Halal|
|0.0% – Alcohol free||Can be considered Halal|
|0.0% – Halal Certified||Should be considered Halal|
The difficulty comes with a “non alcoholic” or “dealcoholised wine”, at 0.5% ABV. Is this halal or haram? For more information about all these confusing wine labels then read my article on it here.
The argument around why a 0.5% wine which is considered non alcoholic might be haram is because it contains at least some alcohol. It has the same alcohol as an orange but is specifically made to contain alcohol.
My understanding of the issues is that a Muslim can not drink “even a drop” of any liquid which may make them intoxicated. I studied this and crunched the numbers and i don’t think it is possible to get drunk on that ABV. See if you can follow my math and thought processes here
At the very least, a 0.0%, alcohol free wine, which has been halal certified by an Islamic Council, should be considered halal by most Muslims.
Is cooking with non alcoholic wine halal?
It follows on that a 0.0% halal certified wine will be halal post cooking.
The grey area again remains with other non halal certified 0.0% wines (incase the label isn’t accurate) or the 0.5% dealcoholised wines. If you are happy they are halal pre cooking then they are halal post cooking.
If you think they are haram pre cooking the you cant be sure what alcohol remains post cooking so it is difficult to then consider the finished dish anything other than haram
Is cooking with rice wine halal?
Rice wine has somewhere between 16-25% ABV and as such would not be considered halal on its own or to cook with. There is no guarantee that its alcohol would be burned off during the cooking process to allow it to be halal.
For rice wine you have to consider it as the ordinary drinking wines. It is very alcoholic to start with and post cooking there is no way of knowing what alcohol remains but you can be pretty sure some is still there.
Is cooking with mirin halal?
Mirin has somewhere around 14% ABV and as such would not be considered halal on its own or to cook with. There is no guarantee that its alcohol would be burned off during the cooking process to allow it to be halal.
Mirin is a sweet liquid made from rice wine. It is still alcoholic and should be treated as regular wine. See above.
Are vinegars halal?
Vinegars can be another tricky liquid to consider. They are mainly made from wine but they clearly don’t taste like wine. What has happened to them to change from wine to vinegar?
In general, vinegars are considered halal. The alcohol from wine has been oxidised to form vinegar. This chemical reaction renders it alcohol free and subsequently can be considered halal.
If you are interested in the exact chemistry here it is via wiki
The conversion of ethanol (CH3CH2OH) and oxygen (O2) to acetic acid (CH3COOH) takes place by the following reaction: CH3CH2OH + O2 → CH3COOH + H2O
There is a school of thought, derived from the scriptures, that only wine that turns to vinegar naturally should be halal. Any human intervention to speed up the process can make it haram. This seems to be a minority opinion.
Rarely, some vinegars had extra wine added to them post oxidisation so it is always important to read the ingredients label to ensure this hasn’t happened.
What cooking wine substitutes are there?
This is a bit topic and a much searched one.
There are lots of reasons to want to substitute wine in a recipe for something else. However, i am here to tell you that unless you are substituting because you dislike the taste or for a medical allergy reason, you don’t need to substitute at all!
Why substitute wine in a recipe?
The obvious reason, especially given this article, is for religious reasons. Other reasons include pregnancy, breastfeeding and having to drink.
Substitute for alcohol free wine
As we have seen before, there are halal certified, alcohol free wines. They are halal as discussed here, but more than that, they are safe in pregnancy, breastfeeding and you can drive (links are to my specific articles on these topics)
The alcohol free wines also have further surprises which you will want. All the heart benefits of red wine, from the antioxidants such as resveratrol, are retained after the dealcoholisation process. I looked at the evidence for this here.
You ideally want the antioxidants to remain as you cook off the alcohol and the good news is they do!
What else apart from alcohol free wine can you use?
If you cant drink wine for medical reasons, don’t like the taste or simply don’t have any, what else might fit the bill in a pinch?
As we have seen, vinegar is made from wine so will have some flavour notes. It will add a lot of extra bit from the acid. If the recipe called for white wine acidity then a vinegar may be useful.
Fruit juice – cranberry, lemon etc
Many fruit juices are both flavourful and acidic. They can add a lot to cooking and flavour the dish
Ginger ale is both sweet and has some heat from the ginger. Two attributes that can lend itself to cooking. It can be used to tenderise meat.
Grape juice is the precursor to wine, as you know. So i will provide a decent flavour substitute. The key difference is it is unfermented so will miss some of the depth of flavour a wine or alcohol free wine will have.
To see how alcohol free wine is made then read this article
Tomatoes and tomato juice is used in many recipes as it is. The sweet and acidic contrasts with a fruity flavour make it very popular.
Stocks – beef, chicken, vegetable, fish
Stock is made by gently boiling animal bones, meat, seafood or vegetables in some water. Vegetable scraps, spices and herbs are often added to increase the flavor of stock, and it is generally used to simmer and tenderize meat.
As stocks are used in much the same way as wine it, they are a natural replacement.