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Homemade Red Wine Vinegar

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Homemade Red Wine Vinegar
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Makes: 1 servings adjust
Making vinegar isn't hard, but it's a commitment. The special barrels aren't cheap, but they're a beautiful accessory in their own right. I find homemade vinegar to be especially pungent, making salads and sauces just explode with aroma and flavor.



Step 1

Vinegar's distinct aroma and powerful flavor is technically acetic acid. Making vinegar is the process of converting alcohol into acetic acid, performed by acetobacter bacteria. Acetobacter thrive in alcohol concentrations of roughly 8-9%, so wine straight from the bottle must be watered down, with the rule of thumb being one part water to two parts wine.

Step 2

While you can start with new bottles of wine, vinegar making is a great way to use up leftover wine from parties. Don't tell your friends, but serious vinegar makers often empty partially drunk glasses straight into their vinegar barrels!

Step 3

While hard to find, you can buy commercially available vinegar cultures, also called vinegar "mother." This is your original source of acetobacter. I have found using an unpasteurized cider vinegar such as Bragg or Hain to be just as effective to kick off the process. These are common in health food stores.


  • 2 bottles Red Wine, full-bodied
  • 1 bottle Water
  • 2 cups Apple Cider Vinegar, Unpasteurized (crucial!)

Step 4

Into your barrel, pour one part water for every 2 parts wine. Vinegar likes moderately warm temperatures. I keep my barrels on my counter where the under-cabinet lighting tends to warm them when the lights are on.

Step 5

Wait about 3 months. Feel free to continue dumping in more wine and water in the proper ratio. Vinegar requires oxygen, so make sure your lid isn't too tight. I tend to open mine periodically and take a whiff anyway, circulating in some fresh air in the process.

Step 6

A byproduct of the acetic acid production is cellulose. In my experience, white wine vinegars form distinct solid sheets (or "eels") of cellulose, while red wine vinegar just forms sediment. The dispensing spouts on the vinegar barrel will no-doubt clog.

Step 7

Periodically make a salad with your work-in-progress vinegar and enjoy the flavor. I don't bother to filter these periodic samples, but you can filter through a coffee filter.

Step 8

At harvest time, I siphon the barrel not quite empty into a stainless pot. From there, I filter by ladling through a coffee filter in a strainer into a second stainless pot. By siphoning, I'm leaving behind cultures to start the next batch.

Step 9

Pasteurize the vinegar by heating to 170 degrees and holding for 10 minutes.

Step 10

Package in sterilized bottles. Store out of sunlight.

Step 11

Immediately start your next batch by adding two parts wine, one part water.
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