1. Common household vinegars include white distilled vinegar, white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, and balsamic vinegar. Each has a unique flavor profile, excluding distilled white vinegar which tastes acidic but does not have any other distinct flavoring. 01:10
2. White wine vinegar is derived from white wine and shares many of the same flavor profiles. This vinegar is slightly sweet and less sharply acidic than other varieties, making it useful for pickling and preparing dressings. It can be used interchangeably with champagne vinegar. 03:25
3. Apple cider vinegar is derived from apple cider, giving it a high sugar content and subtle apple flavor. While it it sweeter than other vinegars, it is also very sharp. 04:44
4. Red wine vinegar, derived from red wine, is bolder in flavor than white wine vinegar. 05:38
5. Balsamic vinegar is made from pressed grapes. Depending on the specific producer as well as the vinegar's age, balsamic can have a very sweet and fruity flavor. Higher end varieties tend to be thicker and more flavorful. These also tend to be very expensive because of the required time and specialized method used to make it. Lower quality versions replicate the flavor and texture of naturally aged balsamic by adding additional sugar and reducing it artificially rather than by means of evaporation. 06:15
6. Some higher end varieties of vinegar include PX vinegar, Banyuls vinegar, BLis 9 vinegar, and Minus 8 vinegar. PX vinegar is made from Pedro Ximenez wine. It has a complex, sweet, and nutty flavor. Chef Carlo recommends using it raw to finish a dish instead of using it while cooking. Banyuls vinegar has a robust flavor. It is slightly sweet, but also highly acidic. BLis 9 vinegar is a maple-sherry vinegar. Its flavor is reminiscent of maple syrup. It is not particularly acidic. Minus 8 vinegar is derived from Canadian ice wine. It is very sweet and great for finishing dishes. 08:27
7. When comparing vinegars, consider the flavor, color, and viscosity. Common culinary uses for vinegar include making dressings and vinaigrettes, pickling, braising, or finishing dishes. 11:07
8. When cooking with vinegar, chef Carlo recommends tasting different kinds to learn which flavors you prefer. Vinegars can be used indefinitely if stored properly, although their acidity may become mellower over time. Chef Carlo recommends keeping a variety of different vinegars on hand to use for different dishes. 12:37
What You'll Need
- White distilled vinegar
- White wine vinegar
- Apple cider vinegar
- Red wine vinegar
- Balsamic vinegar
- PX Vinegar
- Banyuls vinegar
- BLiS 9 Vinegar
- Minus 8 vinegar
Vinegar is made by adding bacteria to diluted wine or ale, fermented fruits and grains, or just about any other food containing natural sugars. As such, there are many different types of vinegar, offering a wide variety of flavors to use in cooking. Vinegar adds a bright acidic flavor to dressings, marinades, and sauces. It can also be used to poach and pickle.
Different vinegars have pH levels ranging from 2 to 3.5, depending on the variety.
While vinegar is now mainly used as a cooking ingredient, it was historically used for a variety of industrial, medical, and domestic purposes. Before chemical cleaners and antiseptics were readily available, the acidic nature of vinegar made it useful for cleaning and sanitizing. In the kitchen, vinegar is and was commonly used for pickling. To learn about this technique, visit Chef Paul Virant’s “An Introduction to the Art of Pickling” tutorial located at the bottom of the page.
Based on studies conducted by the Vinegar Institute, it has been confirmed that the shelf life of vinegar is almost indefinite. As vinegar is highly acidic, it is self-preserving by nature and does not need to be refrigerated. Distilled white vinegar will remain virtually unchanged. Some vinegar may change in color or clarity, but these are only aesthetic changes and do not affact flavor.
Chef Carlo mentions that white distilled vinegar is often used to help poach eggs. To learn more about this technique, visit Chef Jason Fullilove’s “How to Properly Poach an Egg” tutorial located on the page below.