3 Excellent Reasons to Make Your Own Red Wine* Vinegar

*or white, if you prefer. I'm not vinegar-ist. (or am I?) I am definitely wine-ist. And I do prefer the taste of red grapes over white ones ... oh dear ...

1. Because if you're going to spend your hard-earned money on good red wine, you do not want to waste a drop of it. Particularly if it's a lovely organic or biodynamic variety that you ordered online, or picked up from your most-favourite winery on your drive back from Sydney.

And ... I know you've thrown up out wine - we all have. But let's make a pact: we shall not do it again. We shall save the remnants of bottles shared at dinner parties; the bottles staring haughtily at our hungover heads; the bottles opened just before we realize that - actually - we'd prefer tea.

And we'll make it into vinegar.

2. Homemade vinegar tastes *amazing*. I know, I'm always saying that ... about everything. But this is one little treat you can easily make for yourself ... and then showcase it on salad after salad after salad. Or use it to pickle things. Or bottle it up and give it to friends ... Or try to figure out how to use it in a dessert, (and then come back here and share your idea, please, 'cause I'm very keen on the concept ...)

3. This is science at its best! Little, naturally-occurring bacteria ferment the alcohol in your wine - turning it into acetic acid. Sometimes, if you're lucky, you even get a weird little seaweedy-thing growing in there ... which sounds disgusting, but is actually an indication that your vinegar is living and active and that the bacteria are doing their job. (The official name of the seaweedy-thing is 'the mother'.)

So why not set the kids on a little science project ... converting the dregs of mum and dad's wine habit into something the whole family can enjoy?

Red or White Wine Vinegar
*if you're a scientist ... and I know a lot of you out there are ... you will love this book.

The time
5 min prep + 1 week ferment + 1 more week ferment + indefinite storage/aging

The ingredients
3 cups organic, unfiltered, unpasteurised apple cider vinegar*
4 cups red or white wine

*the authors recommend starting with organic cider vinegar because it typically has healthy, living, vinegar-making bacteria in it.

**I recommend using organic wine, too.

The process
1. Clean out a large jar with hot soapy water and dry it at a low temperature in the oven. When the jar's cooled down to room temperature, put the cider vinegar and the wine into it. Cover with a muslin cloth and set the lid on top. (Don't actually put on the lid ... the bacteria need to breathe)

2. Put your concoction in a dark cupboard and ignore it for a week.

3. After a week, it should be starting to smell more vinegar-y than wine-y. You can add 2 cups more wine at this time, if you want. Put the cloth (or a clean one) back on, and return the jar to the cupboard for another week. Don't stir/knock/abuse it during this time.

4. Whenever you remember your vinegar - after that week is over - strain it into a clean jar or bottle for storing. It's ready to use now - and its flavour will continue to evolve over the months to come.

NOTE: Save some of your homemade vinegar and any 'mother' you get for the next batch! You should be able to use it instead of the apple cider vinegar as a starter.

The cost
I buy up apple cider vinegar when I find it on special. It has lots of reputed health benefits and I use 1 tsp of it + 1 c regular milk as a substitute for buttermilk in baking. I'm considering the wine free - because, really, we were going to throw it out, right? So I get 1.75L of lovely, organic vinegar for around $3. The next batch? Free.

(Now why didn't they teach *this* in chemistry class??)
Amanda xx


  1. We never learned how to make our own vinegar at cooking school (I wrote about it here, if you are interested: "Culinary School: Three Semesters of Life, Learning, and Loss of Blood" http://amzn.to/eOKJWw), but I wish we had, it looks fun.

  2. Impressive! Actually, how do you find the result of vinegar + milk for buttermilk? The last time I tried it my cake/cupcake/baking thing wasn't quite up-to-scratch and I kind of blamed the faux buttermilk. What do you think?
    S x

  3. @Steph Bond Hutkin (Bondville) To be honest, Steph - I *never* use buttermilk ... just not convenient enough for me to have it on hand! So I can't judge ...

    But maybe this warrants a test ... :)

  4. I shall have to bookmark this (not often I have left-over wine) but I will start saving any that does happen to have escaped us. I'm excited to try making my own red wine vinegar actually.

  5. Wow! U are such a genius! Here is so har to find unpasteurized apple vinegar. Last time I went to Argentina I bought a bottle ... Maybe I'll have to go back there to buy some more heheheheh

  6. i have a "mama" in a vinegar vat from my husband's grandmother - however we haven't used the liquid in there or even looked at it in years....is it safe to still use??

  7. Thanks for this neat guide on making your own home made red wine vinegar. I'll try to make one from a NAPA wine label.


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Thanks for commenting! Amandaxx