One of the most common, and most popular ingredients in salad dressings, different sauces, and slow-roasted dishes is wine vinegar. Whether it’s red or white is a matter of personal taste.
One reason for its ubiquity is how easy you can find it. Head to most stores and a bottle will be waiting for you. However, nothing beats a homemade version of wine vinegar.
Today, we are going to focus on white wine vinegar. This tends to be stronger and more concentrated than its red counterpart. It also offers a more delicate yet complex flavor that can make the blandest of dishes come alive.
And the great news is that white wine vinegar is pretty simple to make! Just leaving out a bottle of wine too long can produce this distinct vinegar.
All you need to start the process of making white wine vinegar is a good-quality bottle of wine that is not too strong (around 10 to 11 percent ABV). If the wine is too strong, the alcohol will inhibit the bacteria that work on transforming the wine into vinegar.
If the alcohol content is too low, then the vinegar will not keep well. How much you use depends on how much white wine vinegar you want to make.
If you’re ready and armed with wine, let’s take a look at the process below so you can start adding your homemade vinegar to an array of tasty dishes.
Making white wine vinegar – Steps
You may have already made white wine vinegar without even knowing it. The easiest (and most accidental way) to make wine vinegar is to leave ¾ of a bottle of wine in a warm place for a few weeks. Honestly, it’s that simple!
Vinegar forms due to the natural oxidation process. However, this method may come with some unwanted guests. Fruit flies can make the bottle their home but you can avoid this by placing a small piece of cheesecloth over the bottle’s opening.
Okay, the first method may be the lazy way of making white wine vinegar but there are other ways!
If you want to make larger amounts of white wine vinegar, you will need a “mother” vinegar. This parent vinegar is a fermenting bacteria culture that transforms alcohol into acetic acid.
This is achieved with a combination of oxygen and is usually found sold as “mother” or “live” vinegar in stores. Sometimes, you may find it advertised as unpasteurized vinegar.
It’s also possible to make your own mother vinegar by mixing wine and vinegar together and leaving it to ferment.
If you’re in need of a continuous supply of white wine vinegar, you should pour 1 quart (4 cups) of wine and 1 cup of mother vinegar into a 1-gallon or more wide-mouthed glass jug.
Once the mixture is inside, you need to cover the container with a cheesecloth and secure it with a rubber band. The cheesecloth acts as a barrier and stops fruit flies or other bugs from getting into the bottle. It also allows oxygen in for the oxidation process to take place.
Wait a couple of weeks and the live vinegar should have settled at the bottom of your jug. The vinegar that sits above should now be ready for use. As you remove the vinegar for use, add more white wine to ensure the level of the jug remains constant.
If you want to make even larger batches of white wine vinegar, you will need a glass or ceramic cask with at least a 1-gallon capacity and a spigot on one end. If the cask is new, rinse with vinegar and allow it to dry.
Once dried, fill the cask to within a few inches of the top with wine. Cover with cheesecloth and strap down to a rubber band and leave in a place that’s around 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius). Under your kitchen sink or in your pantry are ideal locations.
After a couple of weeks, your wine should be vinegar. However, for the best results, we recommend leaving the cask lie for around 12 weeks. After 3 weeks, inspect your vinegar for any gelatinous film. This is the new mother vinegar.
Do not disturb this layer as it can agitate the bacteria that creates wine vinegar. If there is no sign of gelatinous film, the wine is not turning into vinegar. This usually happens when you use pasteurized vinegar as the starter.
If this is the case, we’re sorry to say that you should throw it out and start the process all over again but this time, with live vinegar.
After one month, start tasting the vinegar periodically. Using a spoon, just push aside the mother vinegar gently. You should be met with an acidic, bright taste. If it’s not ready, gently replace the mother vinegar and allow for continued fermentation.
Drain the wine from the cask using the spigot. Then, replace the used vinegar with more wine. Add this into the cask using a funnel or a hose. This is to leave the mother vinegar undisturbed.
The wonderful thing about vinegar making is that you can put those half-empty bottles of wine that are lying around your kitchen and fridge to good use. With a little patience, you can have white vinegar ready for your side salads without spending too much (apart from the bottle of wine).
Storing your white wine vinegar vinegar
Find a secondary storage container. This should be heat-proof and made from either glass or ceramic with an airtight lid or cork. Some examples include mason jars with lids, a corked glass beaker, or an empty vinegar container.
You need to sterilize your container with hot water and dish soap. Bring a pot of water to a boil and submerge the container in the pot for 10 minutes. Next, wait for it to dry completely.
Next, simply pour the vinegar into your storage container using a funnel to siphon it. The more vinegar you have, the more containers you’ll need. Store in a cool, dark place for up to a year and enjoy your homemade white wine vinegar.