Red Wine Vinegar Recipe

Homemade Red Wine Vinegar - Development Placeholder Image

The Spruce Eats / Colleen Graham

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Ferment: 336 hrs
Total: 336 hrs 5 mins
Servings: 64 servings
Yield: 1 quart
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
11 Calories
0g Fat
0g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 64
Amount per serving
Calories 11
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 0g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 1mg 0%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 18mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Red wine vinegar is an excellent way to boost the flavor of a variety of foods. Popularly used in salad dressings, it's also fabulous in sauces, stews, and other dishes. While you can buy it at the store, you'll find that homemade red wine vinegar has a more complex flavor, and it's one of the easiest fermented ingredients you can make from scratch.

While balsamic vinegar is made with unfermented grape juice left to age for over a decade, red wine vinegar begins with grape-based wine. The easiest way to make red wine vinegar (or simply red vinegar) at home is to mix red wine with raw, unpasteurized vinegar. The process uses the wine's residual sugars to aid in the fermentation process.

An inexpensive bottle of wine is good for this vinegar recipe, though you will want something you enjoy to make the best-tasting vinegar. For the best results and storage, choose a wine between 10 percent and 11 percent alcohol by volume; the finished vinegar will have just a trace amount of alcohol. This is also an excellent use for leftover wine.

We use raw apple cider vinegar in this recipe since it includes the "mother," a bacteria called Mycoderma aceti, which drastically shortens the fermentation time. That live starter transforms alcohol into acetic acid and creates vinegar. However, with more time, you can also make red wine vinegar, and your own "mother", by using equal parts of white vinegar and red wine.

With these two ingredients on hand, you'll simply pour them into a large glass container, cover it with cheesecloth so it is exposed to oxygen, then wait. The slimy-looking mother will grow in about two weeks, and the vinegar will get a sharp sour smell and taste. When that happens, your red wine vinegar is ready to use in your favorite recipes.

Ingredients

  • 1 750-milliliters bottle red wine

  • 1 cup raw apple cider vinegar with the mother

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a large (at least 1/2 gallon) glass jar or ceramic crock with a wide mouth, pour the red wine and vinegar, and stir well with a wooden spoon.

  3. Cover the container with cheesecloth, securing it with a rubber band or string to keep out fruit (or vinegar) flies. Place it in a warm place out of direct sunlight.

  4. After about 2 weeks, check the progress. You should see the vinegar mother at the bottom, and a new one may be floating near the surface. When the vinegar gets a sharp, vinegary smell, give it a taste. Let it continue to ferment if you prefer a stronger flavor.

  5. Once to your liking, strain the mother out of the vinegar through cheesecloth and bottle it under a tight seal or cork.

How to Store

Store homemade red wine vinegar in a bottle or jar, sealing it with an airtight lid or cork. It will keep well at room temperature for about three months.

Tips

  • If you'd like to keep your batch of red wine vinegar going, don't strain it. Instead, remove some of the finished vinegar to bottle and use, then replenish the remainder with more wine, filling it to the original level.
  • Depending on how much you use red wine vinegar, you may want to make a smaller batch. Reduce the wine and raw vinegar as desired, retaining the ratio of one part vinegar to three to four parts wine (for instance, 1/2 cup vinegar to 1 1/2 cups wine for a 2-cup batch).
  • No matter the volume, choose a container that leaves plenty of headspace so oxygen can work its fermentation magic to make vinegar. Fill the container no more than three-quarters full with liquid.

Recipe Variation

  • Make white wine vinegar by starting with a white wine base.
  • You can purchase just the vinegar mother (often from homebrewing shops) and use it to create vinegar from red wine alone. It can be expensive and it's best to follow the package instructions.

Can you mix vinegar and red wine to make red wine vinegar?

Mixing vinegar with red wine and using it right away is not a great substitute for red wine vinegar. While the result is decent, the fermentation process produces a deeper flavor that is needed in red wine vinegar recipes. Balsamic vinegar is a better alternative and doesn't require adaptations to the recipe.