Converting wine to vinegar is pretty easy. Open a bottle and leave it alone for awhile and it turns to vinegar all by itself.
Or, you can buy a vinegar “mother” and speed the process a bit and can also add other things, such as non-alcoholic fruit juices to enhance the flavor.
There are a few, mostly out-of-print books on the subject, such as this one:Lost Arts
And this one: Vinegar: The User Friendly Standard Text Reference and Guide to Appreciating, Making, and Enjoying Vinegar.
And some people start with making their own wines and go from there to vinegar:
Making Wild Wines & Meads: 125 Unusual Recipes Using Herbs, Fruits, Flowers & More
and there is also a great deal of information on the internet which is very easy to access. I started playing with making vinegar when the only information was in the local library. Since then, things have gotten much easier.
Before the internet existed, there were news groups as part of the WWW (World Wide Web) that exchanged information, albeit slowly because modem speeds were slow and uploading and downloading was something that required patience (and allowed one to leave the computer, brew a pot of tea or coffee, assemble a snack and return to watch the spinning clock hands (on a Mac) or whatever it was that spun on a PC) continue until the download or upload was finished. Computers of that time were not “multi-tasking” machines so during these procedures, nothing else could be done.
Thank your lucky stars that you have machines that can do multiple tasks at the same time!
Now, the gathering of information is as near instantaneous as to be like magic, especially when I think of my first experiences with CompuServe.
Things did speed up some as modems got faster. Then there was Prodigy and the early internet with search engines such as Alta Vista, etc.
When one enters the words “Vinegar, Homemade” into Google the top of the page shows “About 3,270 results (0.10 seconds)” and that, to folks like me, IS magic.
Here are a few of the links:
If you have a local wine-making supply shop, check with them or order online:
You can even find it on eBay.
And you can use the “natural” cider vinegars with the mother that can be found in any health food store (and some supermarkets) but it will take some time for that mother to convert to one with only the wine flavor but it does work.
How To Make Home-made Vinegar & Herbal Vinegar
The best container is a crock or glass vessel with a spigot at the bottom and it must be plastic or 100% stainless steel. Any other metal will corrode from the acid in the vinegar. Plastic is best and you can find plastic spigots online,
The “lemonade” or “ice-tea” dispensers that are sold at many stores, Walmart, Target, etc., work quite well once you remove the metal spigot and substitute the plastic type.
This is the one I use for white vinegar:
It lives out of sight in the pantry but it is attractive enough to be displayed in the kitchen. The one with the red wine is not as attractive.
Some artisans make vessels specifically for vinegar.
I have not yet purchased a vinegar crock but have purchased other items from
and recommend their products with no reservations.
I have a very large serving bowl, two lidded vegetable steamers (mostly used for couscous) and an extra-large platter. (Joe’s Blue and Tomato Red)
I rarely buy wine – I don’t drink it – but I do have friends who are wine enthusiasts and host many wine-tasting parties. They are often left with bottles that contain a significant amount of wine and as they really don’t care to drink it after it has been opened and left to sit for a few days, they bring me the “leftovers” for my vinegar production. (They get vinegar in return.)
This has allowed me to do some experimenting with various “additives” such as fruit juices and pulp, herbs and spices – cinnamon will kill the mother so don’t use it straight into the working vinegar – add it to the vinegar that has been drawn off and it going to be used in a dressing or in a dish.
I do occasionally buy wine that is extremely inexpensive – when my supplies run low I depend on what I can find at Big Lots – often bottles of wine (probably virtually undrinkable as wine) are as low as 99¢ and most are less than $2.00. My best buy was a 2-liter jug of a “white zinfandel” for $1.49!
Some things work beautifully and some have not done so well. I love tarragon vinegar but have had little success in producing my own as the flavor of the tarragon never fully develops as I think it should. Anyone that has had success with this, please comment. I will appreciate it.
Berries, fresh and whole or mashed into a pulp have been very successful, as have dried fruits – I steam the dried fruits first and add both the fruits and the water in the steamer to the vinegar.
A strawberry vinegar made with a white wine vinegar base and a box of the sweetened frozen strawberries and left to “work” for six weeks, produced a phenomenal result. I reduced some over low heat until it was a thin syrupy consistence and served it over vanilla ice cream. Absolutely delicious!
Plums, particularly the rather tart green ones, produces an excellent vinegar. They tend to float so I put a thick saucer that just fits in the crock on top of them.
I used a ceramic drill to drill three 1/4 inch holes in the saucer (old restaurant ware) so the liquid would flow through it.
Very ripe or overripe peaches, apricots and pears also make a fine addition to vinegar – I try not to waste anything so fruit that is past its prime goes into a vinegar pot instead of the garbage.
This is sort of like turning a “sow’s ear” into a “silk purse” as the old saying goes.
Making vinegar really requires little direct effort. The vinegar “mother” does all the work and other than being sure your equipment is perfectly clean, and the little effort expended in adding the various components, there is not much for you to do, except enjoy the results.
Use your imagination, you can never know until you try, how much fun this can be and how impressed your guests will be when you offer them a unique product made in your own kitchen.
Bottled, in pretty containers, these make great gifts.
Bottles like these are nice.
But you can also find them locally at Cost Plus World Market, Pier One, Marshall’s, T.J. Maxx and etc. I’ve even seen some at Walmart that were very practical and attractive.