Really good red wine vinegar is comparable to balsamic vinegar in taste and versatility. The problem is finding really good red wine vinegar. Have you ever noticed that most of the stuff at the grocery store is not red at all but pink? We don’t buy blush wine when we want red wine, why would we purchase blush vinegar when we want red vinegar!
I spent many months searching for an acceptable red wine vinegar before finally deciding to make it myself. In theory, you can make vinegar by pouring a bottle of red wine into a large container, covering it with cheesecloth to keep out the flies, and letting it sit. This method results in quite a bit of evaporation though. My first attempt ended with no vinegar and no wine either! So I followed the directions found in The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz (a fantastic book).
This is such a simple project. The vinegar is excellent. It makes a wonderful vinaigrette, perks up tomato sauce, is tasty with whole grain bread, and adds umami flavor to Caponata or Tzatziki. Collect some fancy bottles and give your homemade red wine vinegar for holiday gifts. You can use this same technique to make white wine vinegar or malt vinegar too.
- Measure and then pour any red wine into a large mouth, non-metallic container.
- Add 1/4 the amount of Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar to the red wine. For example, if you have 1 cup of wine, add 1/4 cup of Braggs Vinegar to the wine. Unlike most cider vinegar, Bragg’s Vinegar contains the vinegar “mother” which will help get the fermentation process going.
- Cover tightly with cheesecloth to keep out flies and other particulate. Set aside out of direct sunlight but where the container will still get good air circulation.
- It usually takes 2 – 4 weeks to fully ferment into vinegar, depending on how warm the air is. Warmer air leads to a shorter fermentation period. Check for complete fermentation to vinegar by tasting. You will be able to detect a pure vinegar taste and no alcohol flavoring when the vinegar is ready.
- Heat the vinegar to 140 degrees to stabilize the vinegar. Watch carefully, if heated over 160 degrees you will ruin the vinegar!
- Fill narrow neck bottles. Add oak chips to each bottle for additional flavor.
- Plug bottles with caps, corks, or plastic top tasting corks.
- Finish with heat shrink hoods if desired.
- Label with type and date.
- Let age in a cool, dark place for at least 6 months.
Note: Bottles, caps, heat shrink hoods, oak chips, and plastic top tasting corks can all be purchased at a brewing or wine making supply store. Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar can be purchased at your local health food store.