This project works best if you drink a lot of wine, but aren’t thorough about it. It uses up the little dregs in the bottom of the bottle, the stuff that’s too little for a full glass, the stuff you leave in the fridge only to forget about for a month and then wonder if it’s still drinkable or if it’s turned to vinegar by now. Wonder no more!
Homemade red wine vinegar is fruitier and bolder than the store-bought kind, and since every batch is a mélange of whatever wines you drank over the past couple months, it’s always a little bit different.
Time: 5-10 minutes + 3 months
- Mix 10 parts red wine to 1 part starter* in a large, wide-mouthed glass jar
- Label the jar with the date, cover with a cloth, and store in a dark place
- Keep adding wine whenever, over the next three months or so
- After two to three months, you’ll notice a powerful change in smell (I moved my vinegar into the closet when this happened). Your vinegar’s pretty much done.
- Strain the vinegar into a pretty, thin-necked bottle (an old wine bottle works well), cap, and use in your cooking or salads to replace balsamic vinegar. I find a splash of red wine vinegar + a splash of soy sauce is an easy, delicious stir-fry seasoning.
*Options for the vinegar starter:
- You can buy raw red wine vinegar in the store (make sure it say “raw” on the bottle, as you don’t want them to have cooked away the microbes that cause the wine to ferment; you might need to go to a health food store)
- You can use the leftovers of your last batch of homemade vinegar
- You can use a red wine vinegar mother– the “SCOBY” (i.e. symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) you might be more familiar with through Kombucha homebrews— which your homemade vinegar might form as a slimy pancake layer sitting on top of the fermenting liquid
- You can trust the universe to provide and let the wine sit as long as it takes to be colonized by some fermenting microbes (might take longer than 3 months)
[Shoutout to my favorite DIY homemaking skills book, Making It, for the inspiration & initial recipe]