Zippy Red Wine Vinaigrette
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This zippy red wine vinaigrette will give life to any salad! It’s so lively and tangy, and best of all, it’s easy to make.

An angled image of a glass jar filled with red wine vinaigrette. It rests on a white surface.

If there’s anything I’ve learned in years of cooking, it’s that I can never have too many dressing recipes.

For example, I find endless uses for my now considerable library of tahini dressing recipes. And even if I’m not able to make anything else, not a week goes by that I don’t meal prep a jar of vinaigrette.

This red wine vinaigrette is one of my all-time favorites.

I make this dressing so often that I tend to take it for granted. Two nights ago, I whisked it together for a big salad that I was sharing with my best friend and her kids.

Even the kids loved it, so much that they asked for the extra that was leftover. They spent the end of dinner dipping whatever veggies were left on the table into the dressing bowl.

The moment was proof that a great dressing can make greens appealing at any age.

With this memory fresh in my mind, it feels like the time to share my favorite zippy red wine vinaigrette with you!

What is red wine vinaigrette?

Quite simply, red wine vinaigrette is a type of vinaigrette that’s made with red wine vinegar.

Breaking that down, a vinaigrette is an emulsion of some type of fat—usually olive oil, when I make them—and some type of acid.

The acid could be citrus, like lemon or lime juice, and it could be vinegar.

I like all type of vinaigrettes, but I especially appreciate vinegar-based ones for convenience. There’s no need to cut and squeeze fresh lemons, nor is there a problem if I don’t happen to have lemons at home.

If I had to identify a trifecta of vinaigrette recipes that I rely on at home, the first would be my champagne vinaigrette.

I also have a Greek vinaigrette recipe that I love. That one features a combination of lemon juice and red wine vinegar.

This red wine vinaigrette is the third in that trio. Red wine vinegar, which is known for its intense acidity and punchy flavor, is the sole source of acid.

Thanks to the use of this type of vinegar, the dressing is especially bold. The word that keeps springing to mind is “zippy.”

For salads, this is a good thing! Fat carries flavor and coats greens beautifully, which is why olive oil is such a great base for dressings.

But acid is needed to cut through the fat content, and this vinaigrette is especially punchy and assertive in that department.

Choosing a red wine vinegar

Red wine vinegar is made from fermented red wine. It tends to be widely available in grocery stores, and it’s even possible to make it at home, if you’re into fermentation projects.

Unlike balsamic vinegar, which is made from fermented grape must, red wine vinegar tends to be consistently affordable.

Sure, you can find more expensive, artisanal bottles. But in my experience, there isn’t a world of flavor difference between a very affordable bottle and a higher end bottle, which isn’t necessarily the case with balsamic.

This makes red wine vinaigrette one of the more accessible dressings for everyday use.

How to make red wine vinaigrette

Even within the low-key realm of making vinaigrette, this is an easy one.

First, gather up your ingredients. These are:

  • Olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Dijon mustard (an essential part of this zippy vinaigrette’s zippiness!)
  • Garlic
  • Maple or agave syrup
  • Fine salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

I’m nearly always asked whether the sweetener can be left out of the red wine vinaigrette.

The answer is yes, it can be, but I personally think that a touch of sweetener is all but essential in dressings. It helps to balance saltiness and acidity, giving salads a rounder taste.

I rarely add a lot of maple syrup or agave to a dressing; typically, it’s just a teaspoon. Here, it’s a teaspoon and a half, because this dressing is more acidic than others.

If you tried the red wine vinaigrette without it, you might think it was fine. But if you compared the dressing with and without it, you’d likely detect a difference—a positive difference once the sweetener is added!

If you have strong feelings about omitting the syrup, however, you can do that.

Similarly, you can dial the garlic up or down, add or subtract salt or pepper, and so on. In other words, make the recipe your own.

An overhead image of a small, fluted pinch bowl, filled with minced garlic.
Grating garlic on a microplane zester is my favorite, easy way to achieve a finely minced texture.

Onto the steps!

Step 1: Whisk or shake

First, you’ll add your ingredients to a mason jar or liquid measuring cup. Next, you’ll either whisk them vigorously, till the vinaigrette is entirely emulsified.

Or, you’ll seal the jar and shake vigorously until you’ve reached the same end.

An overhead image of a glass jar filled with red wine vinaigrette. It rests on a white surface.
The whisked dressing should appear uniformly mixed and smooth, with tiny flecks of garlic and pepper throughout.

That’s it! That’s the entire process of making red wine vinaigrette. Easy as promised.

Step 2: Store

The dressing can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Like most olive oil + vinegar mixtures that also include garlic or shallot, it needs to be kept in an airtight container in the fridge.

An angled image of a glass jar filled with red wine vinaigrette. It rests on a white surface.
Vinaigrettes that contain fresh herbs, garlic, or minced shallot need to be stored in the fridge in an airtight container. There, they will last for up to a week.

How should I use this red wine vinaigrette?

First and most simply, you can add the vinaigrette to any plain, leafy salad. While I tend to use champagne vinaigrette on my butter lettuce side salad, this is a very good alternative.

I also like to use the dressing as an alternative option for my quick steamed green beans. It’s a beautiful dressing for simple, oven-roasted beets.

Drizzle red wine vinaigrette over a vegan lentil Niçoise or other Mediterranean-inspired salad, or use it to dress fresh, roasted summer vegetables. I actually love to drizzle it lightly over ratatouille for a touch of added acidity.

Finally, this is one of my favorite vinaigrettes to use for pasta salad. (Unless it’s meant to be a creamy pasta salad.)

But these are only the directions that I think in! Once you start making this zippy little vinaigrette and fall in love with its big personality, I think you’ll find lots of uses for it at home.

An angled image of a glass jar filled with red wine vinaigrette. It rests on a white surface.
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Zippy Red Wine Vinaigrette

Author – Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Yields: 6 servings


  • 1/2 cup olive oil (120ml)
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinaigrette (60ml)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons maple or agave syrup
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • Whisk all ingredients together in a liquid measuring cup until emulsified, then transfer them to a mason jar for storage. Alternatively, you can add all of the ingredients to your mixing jar, then shake vigorously till emulsified. 
  • Cover the jar and store the vinaigrette in the fridge for up to 1 week. 

Right now, I’m thinking about drizzling the red wine vinaigrette all over thick slices of fresh summer tomato or pieces of grilled zucchini.

But the dressing is always by my side through the seasons; come fall, it’s a great dressing for roasted root veggies.

I hope you’ll enjoy it year-round, too.


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Categories: Dressings
Dietary Preferences: Gluten Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free, Vegan
Recipe Features: 30 Minute or Less

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