6 Ume Plum Vinegar Substitutes

The ume plum is a gourmet ingredient commonly called for in Japanese recipes.  Unless you’re in Japan, it may be hard to find at your local grocery store.  However, finding a substitute for ume plum vinegar is not impossible –  there are a few different options to help you work with the ingredients that you have on hand.

The best substitute for ume plum vinegar is to use red wine vinegar instead.  However, you can also use mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine), or a custom recipe made from vermouth and sugar in a pinch.  Several other good substitute options include sweet marsala wine, dry sherry, or verjuice.

What Can You Substitute for Ume Plum Vinegar? 

There are several possible substitutes for ume plum vinegar, as listed below.  

1. Red Wine Vinegar

Perhaps the most commonly touted substitute for ume plum vinegar is red wine vinegar.  If you don’t plan to use ume plum vinegar very often then you can use red wine vinegar as the closest substitution.  

2. Mirin

If red wine vinegar is also not available, then consider using mirin (which is a Japanese sweet rice wine).  Mirin is similar to sake but has a lower alcohol content and more sugar.  It adds a subtle flavor to your dish.  Furthermore, check out this article to discover 6 substitutes for sake and mirin.

3. Vermouth and Sugar

Dissolve 1/4 cup sugar in 1 cup vermouth as an alternative substitute.  Vermouth contains artemisia (a bitter plant) which gives it a tart flavor, while the sugar adds sweetness.

4. Dry Sherry

Dry and sweet, this wine is made from the Palomino grape.  While it is not a close match for ume plum vinegar, it works in a pinch because it is a common ingredient that adds a unique flavor to your dish, and is relatively easy to find.

5. Sweet Marsala Wine

Marsala wine has a nutty brown sugar flavor with notes of dried fruit.  It can be lightly sweet to very sweet and is considered to be a dry wine.

6. Verjuice

Verjuice is made from unripened grapes.  It has a sour flavor, so it’s a good substitute for vinegar. It can be hard to find and is usually available only at gourmet specialty shops. 


Ume plum vinegar has a unique taste that is like no other, but if your creative cooking endeavor is standing still don’t worry –  it is possible to find an adequate substitute!  While red wine vinegar is the most well-known substitute for ume plum vinegar, there are plenty of other excellent options, as described above.