Glossary S - Z
> Types of Vinegars
As with wine , these vinegars can be red or
white. The quality is determined by the type of
wine used. Fine vinegars come from fine wine ,
and are made the slow , traditional way in oak
barrels. They are matured in wood for periods
ranging from a few weeks to one to two years.
Red wine vinegars are aged longer than those
made from white wine. The very best wine
vinegars are made in relatively small batches ,
have fine balance and subtle, complex flavour.
They are characteristically rich and mellow.
Commercially produced wine vinegars are of an
inferior quality , using average wine and faster
production techniques that remove a lot of the
more subtle flavours in the wine. Many
commercially produced wines are , none-the-less
very good , and as with so many things , the
price reflects the quality.
As to be expected , this vinegar is expensive ,
delicate , refined and gentle. Pale gold in
colour , clear and bright. Wonderful stuff , but
you wouldn't want to drink a glass of it on New
A very fine vinegar type. As with other wine
vinegars , the best are very expensive and
justifiably so. Sherry vinegars are made from a
blend of wines , just like sherry , and are left
to mature in the wood for a long time. They
develop fat , rich flavour and a mellow
complexity. Like traditional Balsamic vinegar ,
excellent Sherry vinegar occupies a special
place outside the vinegar spectrum.
Balsamic made the traditional way is an
outstanding vinegar. Dark , almost treacly in
colour , it is very smooth and mellow with deep
complexity and layers of subtle flavours. The
very finest Balsamics are made from the the
juice of Trebbiano grapes that has been boiled
down to almost a syrup. This reduction goes
through a first natural fermentation in wooden
casks that produces alcohol. A second
fermentation , with the aid of the acetobacter
bacteria in the air , creates the acetic acid
that is vinegar. This vinegar is then filtered
into wooden casks and left to mature for
anywhere from 10 to 30 years. Some for even
longer. Some Balsamics mature in a succession of
casks all made from a different type of wood ,
each type giving a another layer of flavour to
the vinegar. It is this almost magical
combination of wood , wine and time that makes
traditionally made Balsamic vinegar such a rare
and very expensive delight.
Historically , Balsamic vinegar originated in
Modena; a town in northern Italy. Commercially
made Balsamic vinegar is made in the region as
well and while nowhere near the quality of the
traditionally made vinegar , it is very good and
markedly different from other wine vinegars.
Though produced on a large scale , most
commercial Balsamics are left to mature in wood
for varying lengths of time and develop the
basic characteristics of the traditionally made
Made from a beer-like brew using malted barley ,
this vinegar is made by much the same method as
for commercially produced wine vinegars. Good
malt vinegar is left to mature for some time
before being bottled.It has a strong flavour and
medium acidity. Suitable only as a condiment or
Made from cider or apple mash in the same way as
malt vinegar. It has a sharp strong flavour at
full strength and the better quality ones dilute
well to reveal a delicate apple flavour. It has
a warm , soft honey colour. Although usually
sold filtered there is a growing belief that
unfiltered organic cider vinegar is especially
beneficial to over-all health. Used as a
condiment and for pickling. Very good for
pickling fruit. When diluted it can be used for
Usually made from fermented rice or rice wine.
Originating in China and Japan. Chinese rice
vinegars are stronger than those of Japan and
range in colour from colourless ,through various
shades of red and several shades of brown.
Compared to other types of vinegar Chinese and,
especially , Japanese vinegars are very mild;
Japanese rice vinegar is very mild and mellow
and ranges in colour from colourless to pale
yellow. There are two distinct types of Japanese
vinegar; one made from fermented rice and the
other is made by adding rice vinegar to sake.
White Rice Vinegar
This is a colorless liquid, higher in vinegar
content and more similar in flavour to regular
vinegar (every time I taste it I immediately
envision a plate of salty French fries doused in
vinegar). Nonetheless, it is still less acidic
and milder in flavour than regular vinegar.
There is also a hint of sweetness that comes
from the glutinous rice. White rice vinegar can
be used in stir-fries, particularly sweet and
sour dishes, and for pickling. The best brand is
Pearl River Bridge.
Black Rice Vinegar
Black rice vinegar is very popular in southern
China, where Chinkiang vinegar, the best of the
black rice vinegars, is made. Normally black
rice vinegar is made with glutinous or sweet
rice, although millet or sorghum may be used
instead. Dark in color, it has a deep, almost
smoky flavour. One word of warning: the quality
of black rice vinegars varies strongly. I
recently tried a brand where the caramel and
sugar overpowered all the other flavours. Gold
Plum's Chinkiang vinegar, made with glutinous
rice, water and salt, is generally considered to
be the best. Black rice vinegar works well in
braised dishes and as a dipping sauce. It can
also serve as a substitute for balsamic vinegar.
Red Rice Vinegar
This is another vinegar that is dark colored,
but lighter than black rice vinegar. In any
event, you'll never get the two mixed up once
you have a taste - red rice vinegar is an
intriguing combination of tart and sweet. Red
rice vinegar can be used as a substitute for
black vinegar - just add a bit of sugar. It
makes a very good dipping sauce, and you can
also use it in noodle, soup and seafood dishes
(you'll often find it in recipes for Hot and
Sour and Shark's Fin Soup). Both Pearl River
Bridge and Koon Chun from Hong Kong are good
Colourless and very strong , it is too brutal
for use in cooking but is ideal for pickling ,
cleaning glass and as a detergent/disinfectant.
This vinegar is distilled before the
acetification process has finished and contains
a small amount of alcohol which changes the
flavour dimension. This is the strongest of all
the vinegars and is used for the same purposes
as distilled vinegar.
Flavoured vinegars have been in use in different
parts of the world for thousands of years , at
least as far back as the Babylonians. Red ,
white and rice vinegars are the most commonly
used , in which any variety or combination of
flavouring agents are steeped. Imagination is
the only limiting factor when it comes to making
flavoured vinegars. The most common are those
using herbs and spices, though flowers ,fruit
and vegetables are other options.
Herb vinegars are made by adding herbs or spices
to cider or wine vinegar and then allowing the
flavors to blend. Flavor and other
characteristics vary greatly depending on the
type of base vinegar and the particular herbs
and spices added.
Fruit vinegar is often made from raspberries,
blueberries or blackberries. The resulting
products tend to be sweet and delicate in flavor
and aroma and make a nice complement to fruits
and many salads, or they can be used in salad
dressings, such as raspberry vinaigrette.
Umeboshi vinegar is a pink brine with a deep
cherry aroma and a fruity, sour flavor. It is a
by-product produced when umeboshi (Japanese
pickled plums) is made. Technically, it is not
classified as a vinegar because it contains
salt, but it is a good substitute for vinegar
and salt in any recipe. It has a light, citric
flavour and lends itself well to salad dressings
and adding flavor to steamed vegetables.
This vinegar is made from sugarcane and has a
rich, slightly sweet flavour. Vinegar is
essential in making pickles, mustards and
vinaigrettes. It adds a jolt of flavour to
numerous sauces, marinades and dressings, and to
preparations such as sauerbraten, sweet and sour
dishes and marinated herring. It is most
commonly used in Philippine cooking.
Coconut vinegar is low in acidity, with a musty
flavour and a unique aftertaste. It is used in
many Thai dishes.
Cabernet Sauvignon Wine
Produced from alcoholic and acetous fermentation
of Cabernet Sauvignon wine. High quality and
rich burgundy in color.
Chardonnay Wine Vinegar
The result of acetous fermentation of Chardonnay
Wine. Distinctive flavors and aroma, light to
medium gold in color.
Merlot Wine Vinegar
One of the best! Unique flavor and aroma, this
wine vinegar is the result of Merlot wine
natural acetous fermentation. High quality, dark
red in color.
Pinot Noir Wine Vinegar
A rare wine product! Clear, bright and medium
red in color, this vinegar has unique
characteristics in flavors and aroma as the
result from Pinot Noir wine acetous
Zinfandel Wine Vinegar
Clear, bright, transparent product as the result
of Zinfandel wine acetous fermentation.
Corn Sugar Vinegar
A result of the alcoholic and subsequent acetous
fermentation of corn sugar with smooth, mild
flavor. Distinctive amber color.
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