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How to Make Balsamic Vinegar from Wine

Updated on September 18, 2013

Use Leftover Wine to Make Delicious Homemade Vinegar

Authentic balsamic vinegar is made from Italian Trebbiano grapes using a complicated process, and is aged for 12 years or more. Though the name "balsamic" is protected, you can make your own rich sweet homemade balsamic-like vinegar from leftover wine. As it ages, the flavor becomes deeper, stronger and sweeter. Create your own uniquely flavored red or white wine vinegars using the instructions in this article.

Photo credit: The Micro Farm Project
Photo credit: The Micro Farm Project

This recipe is made with a few simple ingredients, and leftover wine (ha!) If you never have any wine leftover, buy a bottle of a wine that you like specifically for this purpose.

You will also need a culture to start the fermentation process. The culture can come in several forms. One option is to buy raw balsamic or red wine vinegar that contains the "mother," a stringy cloud of bacteria that is responsible for turning wine into vinegar. Raw, unpasteurized vinegars are difficult to come by in the grocery stores. However, raw red wine vinegar can be purchased online from Amazon.

The second option is to purchase a culture ("starter") from a store that carries wine-making or beer-making supplies. This culture is a clear liquid, called "mycoderma aceti," or acetyl acohol bacteria.

A thid option is to add a packet of champagne yeast as your starter.

Ingredients

  • Red wine (preferably organic and low in sulfites that can damage the "mother"
  • A culture (raw vinegar or "starter")
  • A sterilized glass jar with a wide mouth (preferably with a spigot at the bottom)
  • A lid with holes poked in it or a rubber band
  • A paper towel
  • 3 -4 cups of filtered water (chlorine-free)
  • Clean bath or beach towel

Instructions

  1. Choose a glass jar with a wide mouth for maximized aeration. A jar with a spigot is ideal. Poke holes in the lid. I used a nail, which I hammered through the lid in several places. Wash the lid and the glass jar with hot (not boiling) water. Dry thoroughly in a clean towel.
  2. If you do not have a lid for your jar, a rubber band will suffice to keep the paper towel secured over the mouth of the jar.
  3. If you do not have filtered water, set out four cups of water to stand for several hours before making your vinegar. This will allow enough time for the chlorine to dissipate from the water so that it does not damage the culture.
  4. Pour the entire bottle of wine into the clean jar. Add starter, according to instructions on the package, and 4 cups of water. OR, add the entire bottle of raw vinegar and 3 cups of water.
  5. Place a clean paper towel over the mouth of the jar and screw the lid over it or secure it with a rubber band. Wrap the jar in a clean towel and place the jar in a dark, warm (70-80 degree F) area. Leave it alone for 2-3 months.
Cast your vote for Balsamic(-ish) Vinegar

Vinegar Supplies

Amazon carries hard-to-find supplies at better price than my local stores. I like to stock up when I order because Amazon offers FREE Super Saver shipping on qualified orders of $25 or more.

I included white wine vinegar starter in this list. You can make white wine vinegar using the exact same process, using a bottle of your favorite white wine and white wine starter.

Photo credit: The Micro Farm Project
Photo credit: The Micro Farm Project

Taste Test Your Vinegar

After a couple of months, check your vinegar. It will have evaporated significantly and you should see the "mother" floating lazily on the top. In the photo, you can see the mother beginning to develop on top of this apple cider vinegar. The mother should always float on the top and can grow quite thick.

If you have a jar with a spigot, drain off some of the vinegar and give it a taste. At first, the vinegar will be sour and have a sharp bite. It may also have a strong odor, which I actually love because it means my vinegar is starting to happen! Over time, the vinegar will thicken and mellow, becoming sweeter, richer and deeper in flavor.

If your jar does not have a spigot, gently move the mother to the side and use a clean ladle to scoop out vinegar for use. Try not to disturb the mother too much when retrieving vinegar from the jar.

Photo credit: The Micro Farm Project
Photo credit: The Micro Farm Project

Feed Your "Mother"

You can keep your jar of vinegar going as long as the mother stays alive. When you remove a little bit of vinegar for use, be sure to replace it with more wine and an equal amount of chlorine-free water. Using a clean funnel, gently push the mother aside and pour new wine into the jar,or let the wine run down the side of the jar to avoid disturbing the mother. Any red wine will do, but dry wines work best. Instead of wasting the last bit of wine in a bottle, pour it into your vinegar jar. To prevent harmful organisms from getting into your vinegar jar, never pour wineglass dregs into the vinegar.

Cover the mouth with a new paper towel and place the jar back in a warm, dark place to continue producing vinegar

Red or White?

It may be difficult to choose, but which do you like best? And on what kinds of foods do you like to use wine vinegars? Tell us about your recipes that include wine vinegar in the comments section after you vote.

What's Your Preference?

Bottle Your Vinegar

When you vinegar is ready, you can remove some of it and place it in a pretty bottle for easy household use or gift giving. Choose a bottle with a lid, pour spout or cork. Colored bottles are preferable to clear bottles to keep your vinegar fresh, but if you choose a clear bottle, store it in a dark cabinet when not in use.

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    • KellydeBorda profile image

      KellydeBorda 5 years ago

      Great lens - will be giving this a try as soon as I can find some starter! Blessed :)