Red, Red Wine Vinegar

Red wine vinegar is easy to make!


So I’m going to totally date myself here! Like many of you, I remember that first drive in my car all by myself after getting my drivers license on my 16th birthday. I hopped into the drivers seat, rolled the windows down, popped a single of the current hit, Red, Red, Wine into the tape player, and sped off, wind in my hair, the beats of UB40 announcing my happy freedom to the world like a neighborhood ice cream truck!

Of course, I didn’t drink red wine or any alcohol at that age, but that happy Reggae beat fit my mood perfectly. To this day, that song transports me back to teenage freedom whenever I hear it! And I can’t help myself from singing Red, Red Wine in my head whenever I see a bottle or glass of red wine. So if I ever seem distracted around red wine, just know I’m in a temporary time warp and will be back shortly!

Teenaged me in the 80s!

These days, I sing this song when I make red wine vinegar. It’s so ridiculously simple to make, it’ll blow your mind! And it makes the BEST red wine vinegar around. Amazing for cooking and makes really nice gifts, especially when you need a quick hostess or thank you gift. Plus, you don’t need to go out and buy a great bottle of wine to make it. Use red wine you’d normally pour down the drain, like the stale end of a bottle that’s been sitting on the counter after a party, that wine you bought because the label looked good but it’s really skunky, or that bottle you’ve been keeping for a special occasion and open to discover that it’s corked! These are all perfect for red wine vinegar and make it a zero waste project as well.

In fact, UB40 pretty much tells us that red wine is a perfect vinegar project! Check out the lyrics!

Red red wine, you give me whole heap of zing
Whole heap of zing, you make me do my own thing
Red red wine, you give enough of love
You’re kind of loving like a blessing from above

What You Need

You don’t need a lot to make this vinegar. Here’s what you need:

  • Glass container or crock with large surface area. I use a 1/2 or 1 gallon glass jar with a wide mouth. You can use old big pickle jars.
  • Red wine, any amount. (Not all wine is vegan. My post on Vegan Wine Tasting in Napa discusses why and what to look for.)
  • A vinegar mother (this can be from a bottle of raw apple cider vinegar, like Bragg’s, from the store if you don’t have an established mother from making other vinegar)
  • Light cotton towel or cheese cloth.
  • Rubberband.

Process

Make sure your jar is nice and clean. It doesn’t need to be sterilized, just clean.

Pour in Your Wine

The wine can be in any condition. Stale and even corked wine makes GREAT vinegar! What exactly is corked wine? It is a condition where some fungi, many naturally found in cork, infects and taints the wine. Cork taint changes the taste of the wine, making it dull, bitter, or giving a musty odor or taste of wet cardboard or old gym socks! The level of cork taint may vary from subtle to overwhelming, depending upon the degree to which the wine is affected, and it can occur in any type of wine. An affected cork may break or crumble when you try to remove it from the bottle, giving you the first sign of a problem. The good news is, the process of turning wine into wine vinegar eliminates this taste and smell.

We’d kept this 5L bottle of wine for years waiting for a special event to pour it at…only to discover the cork crumbled from cork taint when we finally tried to open it and the wine was undrinkable! So we turned it into vinegar instead (we gifted a lot of it and this is what’s left). Regular 750-ml bottle on left for size comparison!

Add a Vinegar Mother

You can use one from a previous batch of apple cider vinegar you made (I always keep the vinegar mothers that develop in making vinegar in a quart jar to use in other vinegar projects later) or use some from a raw, commercially-made vinegar, with the mother in it, like Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar.

This mother came from making apple cider vinegar. You can keep them to reuse over and over.

Put the Towel Over the Opening and Secure with a Rubber Band

This is a great use for rubber bands that you can’t avoid on produce purchases!

Red wine and mother in the jar and covered with cheese cloth.

Store in a Dark, Room Temperature Location

A a pantry or closet is perfect. Put it there and kinda forget about it.

It can take a couple of months to develop, so don’t be alarmed. I check it every few weeks and give it a taste. At times, it doesn’t seem like anything’s happening, that the wine is just getting stale and the mother is just settled on the bottom. But after a couple of months, a new mother will develop on the surface and the wine will start to acidulate. You can get some weird off-flavors during this time, like an acetone or metallic flavor, but don’t worry, it’s just going through it’s process and those will disappear. You’ll note over time that some of the liquid starts to evaporate off. This is a sign that you’re getting closer to vinegar.

Developing into vinegar.

Taste Test it Every Once and a While and Bottle When Ready

Keep tasting it and when it’s sour and to your liking, simply strain to remove any solids and collect the mother, and bottle! Keep that mother in a jar with some vinegar to cover (any type) with a tight lid so you can use it for a future batch of red wine vinegar.

Strained vinegar mother from making red wine vinegar.

So, if you have an extra bottle or two of wine leftover from your holiday party or family gathering, don’t throw it out. Old wine is a gift! With a little patience, you’ll have amazing vinegar. It’s definitely worth the time and (little) effort.

You can even make vinegar from old champagne!

Print Pin
5 from 1 vote

Red Wine Vinegar

Making vinegar is an excellent zero waste tool. Don't pour old or corked wine down the drain, you can easily turn it into fabulous vinegar!
Course Salad, Vinegar
Cuisine Vinegar
Keyword red wine vinegar, Zero Waste
Author Cindy Thompson, Trimazing! Health & Lifestyle Coaching

Ingredients

  • Red Wine can be stale, corked, or even wine you don't like. Any amount.
  • Vinegar Mother Use one from another batch of vinegar you made or from a bottle of raw apple cider vinegar with the mother, like Bragg's.

Instructions

  • Pour your wine into a clean, wide-mouthed, non-metallic vessel, filling it 1/2 to 3/4 full.
  • Add vinegar mother.
  • Cover the top of the vessel with cheesecloth, coffee filter, or flour sack towel and use a rubberband to hold it in place. 
  • Put your jar in a dark, room temperature location. Cover with a towel to keep out the light.
  • Check your jars every couple of weeks. Smell and taste to see how it's progressing.
  • Continue this for a couple of months to let vinegar develop. Smell and taste the solution to determine when it’s the tartness you want and that no alcohol remains. 
  • Strain and transfer to a smaller, narrow neck bottle and seal tightly to keep from oxidizing. Save the mother for a future batch.

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