Making Red Wine Vinegar isn’t Hard at All!

Anyone that’s ever crossed over into cooking has probably come across red wine vinegar. If you’re a real wine enthusiast, you’ve probably asked yourself, “Where does red wine vinegar come from? Is it really made from the wine I love so much?” They certainly don’t taste the same, do they? Well, the simple answer is yes, it does come from wine. If you’ve ever pondered making red wine vinegar, here’s another tidbit – you can make it right in your home!

We’ve all heard the tales of wine left out too long or not aged properly turning into vinegar. While this old tale is not entirely accurate, there is some truth to it. Under the right conditions, wine can turn into vinegar, but this doesn’t always happen. In order for the wine to turn into vinegar, the proper bacteria must be present. Some folks out there may have looked at vinegar under a microscope in biology lab in high school, but for those that don’t know, vinegar does indeed contain active, live bacteria. Don’t get too grossed out though – we need them if we want our vinegar!

So what sort of conditions do we need for making red wine vinegar? First, you have to figure out if you want to go all out and do it the old-fashioned way or take a short cut. The creation of vinegar, you see, requires a vinegar mother, also known as a mother of vinegar. The vinegar mother is simply a rather unpleasant looking layer of “stuff,” for lack of a better term, that comprises the majority of the bacteria colony in the vinegar. If you want to go all out, you can make the vinegar mother yourself, but if you want to speed things up you can actually buy one online or at a store that caters to beer or wine makers.

First, there’s the long route to making red wine vinegar. You can rely on airborne bacteria to find their way into your wine to make vinegar, but most opt to buy the right bacteria so they don’t waste their time. The bacteria you want are called Mycoderma aceti. Add these bacteria to your wine in a good-sized crock, depending on how much vinegar you want to make. Cover the top with cheese cloth to keep anything unwanted out, and secure it with a rubber band. Set it somewhere cool (but not too cool), and let it sit for three months. After this time, your vinegar mother will have formed. Start adding a cup of wine each week until the mother sinks to the bottom. Once that happens, it’s ready! Filter your vinegar to get any solids out and bottle it.

If you’re short on time but still fixated on making red wine vinegar, purchase your mother and cut the time by half. It’s basically the same as above, but you’ll add a cup or two of wine to the crock once or twice a week for three weeks then let it sit for another eight weeks. Filter and enjoy!

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