How to Make Wine Vinegar

1 Jan

It is really worth making your own wine vinegar because the home made stuff is delicious and if you can wait long enough it is far better than anything you can buy. Making wine vinegar is really simple you just need a little ‘mere‘, some wine and lots of time.

The mere or Mother of Vinegar is an Acetobacter, a useful bacteria that turns the ethanol in wine to acetic acid with the aid of oxygen.

Just before we left England to come to France one of our friends, Jean Yves, a Frenchman, gave us a parting gift. Something we would need in France. Jean Yves scooped some weird looking sludge from a large white crock he had on his kitchen counter and put it in a clean jam jar. This sludge would not have looked out of place in a 50’s sci-fi movie, but this stuff was precious. Jean Yves had given us some ‘mere’ or mother so that we could make our own wine vinegar.

He also told us how to make wine vinegar, the instructions are simply to put the mere into a jar with a loose cover or vinegar pot and add wine then leave it until it turns into vinegar.

Once we were in France I bought a vinegar pot just like the one Jean Yves had at a local market. A vinegar pot is normally ceramic with a loose fitting lid and tap. The tap means that you can decant the vinegar without disturbing the sediment and the mere, and makes it easy to test a little bit to see if is ready to decant.


Testing a small amount of vinegar to see if it has matured enough to be ready to use.

I put Jean Yves’ mere into the pot along with a little bit of red wine. My biggest problem was parting with the wine to turn it into vinegar but I decided to use the dregs from each bottle of red we drank along with a few sloshes of stuff I wasn’t so keen on drinking. Admittedly not much hit the reject seat so it was a while before the vinegar jar was full. But once it was full I left it alone and waited. I left it for three years before tasting it and found it had turned into wonderfully sweet, rich red wine vinegar. I decanted it, through a filter, into a special red wine vinegar bottle, an old ceramic one I had found, with a spring top. The bottle is perfect, not only does it stop the light and keep the vinegar well it looks pretty in the kitchen or on the table.

How long does it take?

It took 3 years for my first batch of red wine vinegar to mature to my taste but that’s nothing apparently. I was at my neighbours house recently and discovered his red wine vinegar has a vintage of over 30 years, it knocked the socks off mine and was truly delicious. If only I could wait 30 years. Some people reckon it only takes a few months to turn wine into vinegar and that may be so but from a taste point of view the longer it ferments the better the taste seems to get.

Red and White

As luck would have it I ended up with another vinegar pot from Rachel’s sister exactly the same as the first one so I now have two jars, one of red and one of white wine vinegar, fermenting away.

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One Response to “How to Make Wine Vinegar”

  1. Laura Hudson 01/10/2009 at 12:06 #

    Comments fcopied from original post1. Lzyjo wrote:WOW! That's awesome. I saw an episode of Travels with Palin were he visited a vinegar place. It was fascinating. It was like a huge attic filled with barrels, some of which had been prepared by the woman's great grandmother. She knew exactly how long each barrel had been there ad what wood it was made of. I wish I had the counter space, but I hardly have enough room for my sourdough starter.10/23/08 9:18:54 AM email website2. mamawhatthe wrote:I have never seen a vinegar pot before. It is just beautiful! I would love to try making my own vinegar. But I think I will be hard pressed to find such a beautiful vinegar pot in my area. Actually, I will probably be hard pressed to find anyone who knows what one it in my area. It's a sad state of affairs. What a fun post! Thanks so much!10/25/08 11:45:40 PM email website3. Alan wrote:Inspiring. We make our own cider vinegar the same way but have never tried wine. Like you we cant seem to keep enough of it around long enough to make vinegar. We will have to try it though. Sounds wonderful. Finding the pot will be a challenge here too.10/28/08 12:33:33 PM email website4. laura wrote:I am sure it won't matter what the vinegar is made in so long as you use a non corrosive material; glass, wood or ceramic. Whatever people use to make wine in or what you use for the cider vinegar Alan would work for wine vinegar.10/28/08 6:04:36 PM email website5. mamawhatthe wrote:But…but…that pot is so beautiful! I'm SURE I will need a beautiful pot like that to make really good vinegar. ;)Maggie10/28/08 8:34:20 PM email website6. Shirley wrote:You can buy vinegar crocks from http://www.claycoyote.com1/10/09 5:06:22 PM email7. Laura wrote:Nice vinegar pots Shirley, the price is a bit hefty at $83.00, but if, as the site suggests, they are hand thrown by artisans then it is probably a fair price to pay. Thanks for the link1/11/09 7:02:44 AM email website

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