From Balsamic To Red Wine, Here’s Everything You Need To Know For Your Kitchen & Home
From salad dressing to a natural cleaning agent, vinegar is a versatile staple for your kitchen and home. However, with multiple options available, it can be tricky to choose just the right vinegar for each purpose. So to help clear the confusion, let’s start at the very beginning.
Vinegar, which originates from the French word vin aigre, translates to mean “sour wine.” True to its descriptor, vinegar is made by introducing bacteria into a fermented liquid such as wine, beer or cider and converting it into acetic acid.
Low in calories and high in flavor, balsamic vinegar is one of the oldest, most well known varieties you can find. Produced in northern Italy for over eight centuries, this dark, sweet flavored ingredient is used as a drizzle over salads, vegetables and fruit, as well as in soups and marinades.
Sold to the tune of roughly $100 per bottle, traditional balsamic vinegar originates from only two provinces in Italy: Modena and Reggio Emilia. In a piece titled, “How to Buy Balsamic Vinegar: A Simple Guide to Italy’s Black Gold” by Men’s Journal author Randy Kelp, Jim Becker of Boston Food Tours explains that true balsamic vinegar must meet rigorous government standards before gaining the certification of Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale (the gold standard for balsamic). One such stipulation: balsamic vinegar must be aged in wood barrels for a minimum of 12 years.
To ensure that you’re getting the best quality item for your money, Becker suggests looking for a bottle that says “grape must,” “aged grape must” or “Mosto d'Uva.” Otherwise, you may end up purchasing a lesser quality vinegar with excess sugars and additives.
Next up is the ever popular red wine vinegar. Great for salads and hearty dishes, this delicious tasting variation is common to both European and Mediterranean cuisine. Far less acidic than others on the list, red wine vinegar is made from red wine aged in wooden barrels. When it comes purchasing this product, the experts at Food Network recommend opting for a version that is clear, rather than muddy.
Not to be outdone by its balsamic and red wine counterparts, apple cider vinegar (ACV) is another popular variation of the ingredient. However, unlike balsamic, ACV is fruity in flavor, light in color and affordable in price. To shop the best quality apple cider vinegar be sure to opt for an unfiltered, unpasteurized brand. In addition, your vinegar should include cloudy sediments of acetic acid bacteria at the bottom of the bottle also known as the “Mother.”
By: Sam Maracic