If you’ve ever watched any cooking competition, you know one of the biggest critiques the judges always make is that the meal needs just a little bit of acid to really kick it up a notch. That’s where red wine vinegar comes in. With its tart—yet slightly mellow—taste, red wine vinegar can give any dish that little extra something. It’s great for making salad dressings, drizzling on roasted vegetables, and marinating meats and chicken.
But not all red wine vinegars are the same. “Red wine vinegar is made by adding the Mother (called an acetobactor) to red wine," says Maggie Lebherz, owner of Lebherz Oil & Vinegar Emporium in downtown Frederick, Maryland. "From the very beginning, red wine is made by allowing squashed grapes to ferment and create a fermented alcohol (red wine). To turn that into red wine vinegar, a second fermentation needs to happen where the alcohol is 'eaten' by an acetobacter in the presence of oxygen which makes acetic acid out of it. This acetic acid is the red wine vinegar."
Some are thin and too acidic, while the best red wine vinegars are mellow with just enough lip-puckering tartness to really make your mouth water. It’s hard to tell which red wine vinegars are the best just by looking, though, so we helped narrow it down for you.
Here, find the best red wine vinegar to help complete your meals.
Napa Valley Naturals Organic Red Wine Vinegar
Napa Valley Naturals Organic Red Wine Vinegar checks all of the boxes. It’s organic, sustainably farmed, non-GMO, pesticide-free, and delicious on salads, pastas, or as a cooking ingredient. It’s made from a blend of high-quality Italian red wines that are aged in oak barrels, rather than stainless steel tanks like some other options out there. After it’s aged, it’s left unpasteurized to lock in the full richness and depth of flavor.
The end result is a mild, fruity flavor that has just the right amount of sweetness to balance out the signature bite and tartness of red wine vinegar.
Price at time of publish: $13
Size: 12.7 ounces | Serving Size: 1 tablespoon | Origin: USA
“Red wine vinegar is actually made by the conversion of the alcohol in red wine into acetic acid via the hard work of acetic acid bacteria. When the conversion is complete, there is no more alcohol and what you are left with is red wine vinegar." — Allan Mai, co-founder and chief product officer of Acid League
Thrive Market Organic Red Wine Vinegar
Thrive Market is on a mission to make high-quality food and better products accessible to more people. That’s why the brand developed Thrive Market Goods, its own line of affordable essentials like this organic red wine vinegar. It’s made in a similar way to other high-end red wine vinegar—Italian grapes sourced from family-owned sustainable farms are aged in oak barrels—but the taste leans more toward tart and zesty, rather than mild and fruity.
Like many Thrive Market Goods, it’s also preservative- and additive-free and is priced considerably lower than other equal quality red wine vinegar.
Price at time of publish: $9
Size: 16.9 ounces | Serving Size: 1 tablespoon | Origin: Italy
“Red wine vinegar is a natural outcome of wine. If you leave wine out for long enough, the acetic acid bacteria will convert all of the alcohol into acid thereby stabilizing the grape juice into its final form! This same process can be applied not just to traditional red wine, but literally anything with alcohol in it." — Allan Mai, co-founder and chief product officer of Acid League
Best for Salads
Liokareas Premium Red Wine Vinegar
The Liokareas Premium Red Wine Vinegar is a bit of a splurge, but if you’re using red wine vinegar for your salad, it’s one of the best options for the job, especially since a little goes a long way. This organic red wine vinegar is made exclusively from red grapes that are grown in the Messinian Valley and Peloponnese areas of Greece and sourced from fifth generation family farms. It has just the right amount of acidity for a tart, yet slightly fruity flavor.
Due to its deep flavor, it also pairs well with beef, pork, and grilled vegetables or works as a condiment on sandwiches.
Price at time of publish: $10
Size: 8.45 ounces | Serving Size: 1 tablespoon | Origin: Greece
“The acetobacter that is used in the second fermentation stage is a living organism. It can come from the Mother (which is the fermenting bacteria culture found in unpasteurized, raw vinegar), or it can come from nature—the bacteria laden feet of little fruit flies or insects that dip their feet in an open bottle of wine for example." — Maggie Lebherz, owner of Lebherz Oil & Vinegar Emporium
Best for Marinade
Colavita Red Wine Vinegar
Colavita is an Italian-born brand that applies the same traditional methods of aging fine Italian wines to its red wine vinegar. Because it’s aged in sandalwood barrels for long periods of time, this red wine vinegar has a slightly smoked, robust flavor that’s not too potent, but not too mild. It has a perfectly balanced acidity and viscosity that make it ideal for a wide variety of culinary applications, but make it especially ideal for marinating.
Whether you’re marinating meat or seafood for the grill, or vegetables for bright and zesty salad, this high-quality and versatile vinegar—very moderately priced per bottle—will add the tang you’re looking for. It’s also non-GMO verified and free of additives and preservatives (except for the naturally-occurring sulfites).
Price at time of publish: $10
Size: 17 ounces | Serving Size: 1 tablespoon | Origin: Italy
Pompeian Organic Red Wine Vinegar
The Pompeian Organic Red Wine Vinegar is the most budget-friendly option on this list, but saving a few dollars doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice quality. This red wine vinegar is made from a combination of U.S.- and Spain-grown grapes that are harvested by local farmers and used to cultivate a mild-tasting vinegar with slightly less acidity than other options out there. The subdued taste makes this red wine vinegar well-suited for marinating, cooking, and drizzling over roasted vegetables. It also pairs perfectly with extra virgin olive oil, for a fresh, light, but slightly tart, salad dressing.
Price at time of publish: $3
Size: 8.45 ounces | Serving Size: 1 tablespoon | Origin: Greece
Castello di Volpaia Red Wine Vinegar
This red wine vinegar is certainly not cheap, but it is worth the splurge, as even just a small splash can profoundly change the flavor profile of your dishes. Imported from Italy, this vinegar is aged 10-12 months and produced by “traditional artisan methods.”
This involves “some of the best Chianti” being “percolated through flakes of oak and chestnut wood,” which “converts the natural alcohol of the wine into the acetic acid of vinegar while not sacrificing the original quality of the wine.” The resulting product is perfect for marinades, salad dressings, meats, or anything that needs a little flavor boost.
Price at time of publish: $24
Size: 16.9 ounces | Serving Size: Not listed | Origin: Italy
Acid League Strawberry Rosé Living Vinegar
Acid League is pushing the boundaries when it comes to traditional red wine vinegar, taking a typically mundane pantry ingredient and elevating it to creative, trendy, and stylish. According to the brand’s website, “we always wondered why grocery store shelves are filled with white and red wine vinegar, but not rosé—so we did something about it. Strawberry Rosé meshes two summer favorites into a layered vinegar that's crowd-pleasing but far from basic.”
There’s only three ingredients in this product: rosé wine, strawberry juice, and living bacterial culture. The tasting profile is described as “Fruity, Floral, Mineral, Aromatic” making it the perfect pairing/accompaniment for salads, basil, grilled salmon, daiquiris/smoothies, yogurt/soft-serve, and more. Whether or not it’s rosé season, you’ll want to have this vinegar handy in your kitchen to brighten up dishes year-round.
Price at time of publish: $14
Size: 12.7 ounces | Serving Size: 1 tablespoon | Origin: Canada
Fini Red Wine Vinegar
The mild taste and slightly lower acidity level of the Fini Red Wine Vinegar make it an extremely versatile option that deserves a spot in every kitchen. Produced and bottled in Cavezzo (Modena), Italy, this red wine vinegar is made from specially selected wines that have been aged and fermented in wooden barrels.
The finished product is the perfect combination of sweet and zesty that elevates any dish without overpowering it, making it an excellent choice for salad dressings, vegetables, marinades, soups, sauces, and meats.
Price at time of publish: $12
Size: 8.45 ounces | Serving Size: 1 tablespoon | Origin: Italy
What to Look for in a Red Wine Vinegar
“The sweetness in red wine vinegar is the sugar that is naturally present in red wine (which completely depends on how much sugar is left over from the original fermentation (grape juice into wine where the sugar in grape juice is converted into alcohol),” says Allan Mai, Co-founder and Chief Product Officer of Acid League.
Red wine vinegar can taste sweet and fruity or sour and bitter depending on a few things: the type of wine and grapes that it was made from, how long the wine was aged before being turned into the vinegar, and even the type of barrels, whether (wood or metal) the wine was aged in. All of this will affect the taste of the red wine vinegar. Start with one that uses the same type of red wine you know and then branch out to try others if you so desire.
“Red wine vinegar is super versatile. It is the perfect splash of acid in many types of salads, and I also love cooking with it as well," says Allan Mai, co-founder and chief product officer of Acid League. "It is my most common choice for making a pan sauce and is often at my fingertips when I need to add some acid onto whatever I’m sauteing."
Keep in mind what you want in a red wine vinegar as some have more uses than others. Some work well on salads and as an ingredient while cooking, while others are great for marinades on meats and veggies, and in vinaigrettes, salad dressings, sauces, soups, and more.
If you are looking for a red wine vinegar that is made organic and free of any additives, make sure to check the label so you know what you're buying.
What can you use red wine vinegar for?
Red wine vinegar has a multitude of uses. It is great drizzled on salads, for marinating beef, chicken, and other meats, or vegetables, in pasta and potato salads, sauces, and as a cooking ingredient.
“I absolutely love red wine vinegar. Mostly for savory things like beet pickled eggs, or quick pickled onions. We toss those on salads throughout the year, or add them to tacos, even as garnishes for soups or stews!” says Maggie Lebherz, owner of Lebherz Oil & Vinegar Emporium in downtown Frederick, MD.
How long does red wine vinegar last if unopened?
As long as it's unopened, red wine vinegar can be kept in a pantry at room temperature for up to two years.
Does red wine vinegar need to be refrigerated once open?
Once you have opened that bottle of red wine vinegar, yes, you should keep it in the refrigerator. An open bottle can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a year.
How We Researched
To compile this list, our team of editors and contributors spent hours researching the best red wine vinegars on the market, evaluating their key features—like flavor, vinegar strength, or price—in addition to reviews from customers and other trusted sources. We then used this research to assign a star rating from one to five (five being the best; one being the worst) to certain products on the list.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Lindsay Boyers is a certified holistic nutritionist with extensive nutrition knowledge and food and beverage-testing experience. She’s developed over 1,000 original recipes and is constantly on a mission to find the healthiest, best-tasting options and ingredients across all food and drink categories.
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