Everyone’s been there. They pull out a bottle of wine for dinner, only to discover that she is no longer in the prime of her life.

Even if you already have enough wine in the fridge to cook with, don’t throw the bottle down the drain. Make vinegar instead.

Unlike store-bought vinegar, which can have an aggressive or sharp vinegar flavor, homemade vinegar has a milder taste and more alternative flavors that allow it to go further, says Tony Dash, expert writer and blogger at Boulder Locavore.

Here’s a basic guide to making vinegar from unwanted wine.

What types of wine can be used to make vinegar?

While many wines other than beer can make a great vinegar, there are a few things to consider when choosing the right wine. First of all, look for a wine with a low sulfur content.

Sulfur dioxide is bad for the microbes and bacteria that oxidize the alcohol and turn it into acetic acid, says Jorge Ramirez-Perez, assistant winemaker at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars in Napa, Calif. Acetic acid gives vinegar its characteristic taste and aroma.


If someone uses an open bottle of wine they don’t like, just leave the wine open for a few days so the sulfur dioxide can evaporate, Perez says.

Dash recommends a wine with low sulfite content or no sulfite. Red wines may perform better than white wines because they generally have less sulphite added during the winemaking process.

Although microbes need alcohol to turn into acetic acid, too much alcohol will kill them. Perez recommends a wine with an alcohol content of no more than 12%.

Red Wine Vinegar Ingredients and Tools / Photo: Katrin Björk

Can spoiled or inferior wine be used to make vinegar?

There are few defective wines that can be used for vinegar. A wine with a hint of volatile acidity is not a problem, as this is usually due to acetic acid.

Wine containing some Brettanomyces can be used to make vinegar.

According to Perez, the bacteria produce more volatile aromas that exceed all the characteristics of a wine’s board. This also affects the taste, which will be very sour.

Wines with other defects, such as B. Cork defects or severe oxidation should be avoided.

According to Anita Oberholster, an enology specialist in the Department of Viticulture and Enology at the University of California-Davis, serious flaws in a wine may be reflected in vinegar if they are not masked by the aroma of acetic acid or the acidic taste. I follow the same rules when I cook with wine. Don’t use faulty wine for cooking. They will only make bad food.

How to make vinegar from wine

The conversion of wine to vinegar requires a series of microbes called vinegar mother.

Mother in wine-water mixture / Photo: Katrin Björk

There are several mothers of wine, apple juice and other vinegars. Dash recommends buying the specific vinegar you want to make.

You can make your own mother vinegar, but it may take a few weeks. If you can’t find a vinegar maker near you who is willing to share their vinegar with you, it may be easier to buy vinegar at a health food store, fermentation shop, or online.

Vinegar Fermentation / Photo: Katrin Björk

Combine the mother, 16 ounces of wine and 8 ounces of water in a sterilized glass or ceramic jar. Do not use plastic because the acid will react with it. Dash uses glass because it is easier to see when something is wrong with the vinegar and to fix the problems.

Cover the pot with several layers of cheesecloth. Store in a dark place with good air circulation and a temperature of 70-80°F.

After months of fermentation the vinegar is ready and filled into jars and bottles

Feed your mother regularly, Dash said. The addition of wine during the process provides a new supply of wine for the conversion of the vinegar.

Try not to move the pot, it interferes with the work of the vinegar nut.

It may take several months for the vinegar to be ready. For more information on making vinegar at home, see Dash’s guide or contact your local university’s extension office.

Finished red wine vinegar / Image : Catherine Björk

How to store vinegar?

The safest way to store homemade wine vinegar is to pasteurize it. Once the vinegar is ready, heat it, pour it into sterilized jars, and place it in a bowl of hot water. Heat the vinegar until it reaches 140-160°F. Hold the temperature for 10 minutes.

Allow the jars to cool, cover and store in a cool, dark place.

frequently asked questions

How to make vinegar from bad wine

Article from Inside-the-Kitchen.

Can vinegar be made from cork wine?

Red wine vinegar

How long does it take for wine to become vinegar?

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