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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. 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.
Best Overall: 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.
Best Organic: 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.
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 five-generation family farms. It has just the right amount of acidity for a tart, yet slightly fruity flavor.
Best for Cooking: 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, 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, including marinating meat and vegetables, drizzling on salads, and deglazing cooking pans. It’s also non-GMO verified and free of additives and preservatives (except for the naturally-occurring sulfites).
Best Budget: 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.
Best High-End: Mother Earth Essentials Organic Red Wine Vinegar
The Mother Earth Essentials Organic Red Wine Vinegar is considerably more expensive than others on this list, but it’s also unlike any other red wine vinegar out there. Most red wine vinegars are distilled and/or pasteurized to give you a clear, filtered finished product. While these types of red wine vinegars taste delicious, they don’t have many benefits beyond that. On the other hand, the Mother Earth red wine vinegar is aged in barrels, fermented, unpasteurized, and unfiltered to give you a raw vinegar.
Of course, it also tastes delicious. It has a deep, chocolatey flavor that goes down smoother than other red wine vinegars.
Best Fruity: Viniteau Red Wine Vinegar
If you like your red wine vinegar on the light and fruity side, you can’t go wrong with the Viniteau Red Wine Vinegar. Made from high-quality Italian red wine that’s been aged in oak barrels for two years, this red wine vinegar has a tangy, but well-rounded flavor that’s less acidic and more mellow than others, making this an excellent choice for dressings and as a drizzling vinegar. It’s also great for marinades and adding a slight sweetness, while cutting down bitterness in dishes from things like cabbage, kale, and beef.
Best Mild: 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.
The Napa Valley Naturals Organic Red Wine Vinegar (view at Amazon) and Thrive Market Organic Red Wine Vinegar (view at Thrive Market) are excellent, well-rounded options that are extremely versatile and can help elevate any dish, while the Liokareas Premium Red Wine Vinegar (view at Amazon) is ideal for topping salads.
What to Look for in a Red Wine Vinegar
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.
Keep in mind what you want in a red wine vinegar as some are more versatile 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.
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.
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.