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How to Make Your Own White Wine Vinegar

One of our most popular posts on the Vintage Cellars Blog has been How to Make Your Own Red Wine Vinegar.  Our readers seem to love the idea of using up bottles of red that are a little past their prime to make something delicious and useful.  But did you know that it’s just as easy to make your own white wine vinegar as it is to make red?  Here’s what to do:

1.  Buy a ceramic or glass crock.  At least a one gallon size is best–this seems excessive, but you’ll want enough room to add lots of extra wine, and you don’t want to be limited in how much vinegar you can produce–small bottles of your homemade vinegar make great gifts!  Make sure your crock has a spigot to make bottling your vinegar easy.

2.  Obtain a vinegar starter, commonly referred to as a mother.  A mother is a combination of cellulose and acetic acid bacteria.  It uses oxygen from the air to turn alcohol into acetic acid.  A mother is a weird cloudy mass that sits at the bottom of your vinegar crock.  Although it looks unappetizing, it won’t hurt you, and you can easily strain it out of your vinegar with a coffee filter if you want to.  You can get a vinegar mother from a beer and wine-making supply store, from the internet, or from a vinegar-making friend.

3.  Put the vinegar in the crock, then add diluted white wine in the ratio of 2 parts wine to 1 part water.  The less you add, the more quickly it will turn to vinegar.  2 cups wine to 1 cup water is a good start.  The better the wine is, the better the vinegar will be, because good wines have a variety of complex flavors, which will translate to an interesting, full-flavored vinegar.

4.  The best thing about vinegar making is that you can use those half-empty bottles that have been taking up space in your fridge.  Since the alcohol in wine starts to turn into acetic acid when you open it, wine a little past its prime simply has a jump-start on becoming vinegar!  Because of this, vinegar-making is very cost-effective.

5.  Cover the top of your crock with a cheesecloth and attach it firmly with a rubber band.  This keeps out insects, but lets in the oxygen that makes the process happen.

6.  Add small doses of white wine once a week or so.  (Or whenever you have a half-empty bottle sitting around.)

7.  Wait at least 12 weeks, then taste-test.  If it smells like vinegar and tastes like vinegar, it’s ready!  Bottle it using a funnel.  Any vinegar left in the crock (be careful to leave the mother, too), you can continue to use to make more vinegar.  Just keep adding more white wine!  Use your vinegar to make sauces and vinaigrettes, and a million other tasty dishes.

You’ll find that homemade vinegar has a much different taste than store-bought–it’s fuller and richer, and doesn’t have as much harsh bite to it.  You can use it in endless ways in the kitchen, and it makes great gifts.  Check our next post for a description of how to take your homemade vinegar by making pretty and delicious flavored vinegars.
White Wine Vinegar on Foodista

  1. Julie Griffin
    July 25th, 2010 at 09:09 | #1

    My husband and I are planning on making vinegar for Christmas gifts. Do you have suggestions where we may purchase bottles and labels? We have some old white Zin,( a wine we don’t drink) is this appropriate for making vinegar? Is there a rule of thumb as to the quality of wine to be used?Thank
    Thank you,
    Julie

  2. July 27th, 2010 at 15:28 | #2

    you might try stores (online or brick and mortar) that cater to home wine or beer making for the bottles and caps (bottles you have emptied can always be sanitized by boiling and reused, of course). Labels can be done with your home printer and good quality label stock, or you could have them printed by a Kinko’s or something similar. Either method will give you good-looking results, but ink and paper type will affect how waterproof, fadeproof and otherwise long-wearing your labels may be.

    Most wines can be used to make vinegar, and even lower-quality ones can give you a decent vinegar. I suggest trying it to see how it goes–you don’t have much to lose if you weren’t going to drink it anyways!

  3. April 4th, 2012 at 09:11 | #3

    I’ve been experimenting with vinegar making. Follow my progress at on my johmacdowall.com

  4. Shae
    October 2nd, 2012 at 15:30 | #4

    I have a very important question, I have 5 bottles of great quality expensive white wine dated back to the year 2005 so it’s expired, can I use ot to make white wine vinegar? I’m in need of some for my skin, I have the worst mid 20’s acne ever, I feel like I’m going through puberty. Please help!

  5. Vintage Cellars
    October 19th, 2012 at 12:18 | #5

    Hi Shae, Why do you believe your white wine will no longer be good to drink? While most whites are not intended for long term aging, some do age well, and if your bottles have been properly stored they might be just fine. I’d certainly taste them before turning them to vinegar, but you definitely can make vinegar from them if you want!

    However, for skin, you might actually want to go with an apple cider vinegar.

  6. judy miller
    October 31st, 2013 at 14:13 | #6

    I made some white wine venegar with reisling, it smells to high heaven like venegar, but tastes very mild, did i goof or is this OK?

  7. SnowKnitty
    November 23rd, 2013 at 10:46 | #7

    Ditto on Holly’s advice from Vintage Cellars! It’s true that some wines are meant to be drunk while they are young and fresh. But many white wines, including champagnes, are INTENDED to be aged – in some cases for decades. White wines will turn darker with age but that does not mean they aren’t great. Please do not assume they are bad. You could be missing out on a wonderful treat!
    My guidance is to make vinegars from the decent wines that you opened but did not finish while they were still in good shape. How does that happen, anyway? ;)

  8. Christina Rivera
    December 15th, 2013 at 09:16 | #8

    I would like to make vinegar. Can you purchase a bottle of white wine vinegar as the starter?

  9. Cheryl
    February 16th, 2014 at 12:00 | #9

    I have taken white vinegar and added white wine to it and let it sit and that seemed to make the white vinegar nicer. Is this a good quick way to white wine vinegar or a waste of my wine?

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