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Garden Lifestyle

Gifts from the Kitchen–Homemade Red Wine Vinegar

Want to impress the foodie on your gift list this year? A bottle of homemade red wine vinegar is sure to please the pickiest palate.

This recipe for homemade red wine vinegar uses only two ingredients and takes only six weeks to mature.
Photo/Illustration: Jodi Torpey

Homemade Red Wine Vinegar is Tasty Gift

I always enjoy spending time in the kitchen making goodies to give as holiday gifts, but in previous years I was reluctant to try my hand at making red wine vinegar. I’d read about the months’ long process that requires an earthenware crock and a live starter called a “mother.” And I’d heard that a good mother is often handed down from a friend or relative like a treasured heirloom.

Vinegar is the result of the chemical reaction between the mother bacteria and the wine. For those without a mother, the bacteria culture can be found at stores selling wine making supplies.

I’d waited too long to get started, so I didn’t have the 2-3 months of time needed for a slow fermentation process. I had to find a faster way to create vin aigre (sour wine). The quickest option was to add red wine to white vinegar, but that wasn’t my style.

Then I heard about a process that took only weeks instead of months and used unpasteurized cider vinegar in place of the starter bacteria.

Select a Medium or Full-Bodied Wine

I wasn’t sure what wine to use until I read to simply select the same kind of medium or full-bodied wine I like to drink. Merlot, Shiraz or Chianti are good medium-bodied choices; Cabernet a full-bodied selection.

I settled on an inexpensive Cabernet Sauvignon-Shiraz blend from California because I like its bright fruit flavors and thought it would make a delicious vinaigrette for a fresh green salad.

Three Easy Steps

To make this vinegar add one part unpasteurized vinegar and one part red wine to a large glass jar. For my batch of red wine vinegar, I mixed one cup Bragg Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar with two cups Cabernet-Shiraz red wine.

Cover the jar with a piece of cheesecloth, using a rubber band to hold the cloth in place. Leave the jar in a warm spot for at least 3 weeks; stir occasionally during this time.

After 3 weeks, add additional red wine to the jar, so that it doubles in volume. Re-cover with the cheesecloth and let sit for another 3 weeks; stir occasionally. This yielded 4 cups of red wine vinegar.

Get Ready to Gift

Pour the vinegar through a strainer into gift bottles and seal. To make the gift complete, add a bow and recipe for a garden-fresh vinaigrette or delicious Watercress and Red Grape Salad.

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