Barrel-Aged Wine Vinegar
There’s a certain cachet to housemade products – and wine
vinegar is no exception. Good wine makes
good vinegar, and good vinegar is a stellar cooking ingredient. Its balance and flavorful acidity has a lot
to offer, adding a depth of flavor that differentiates naturally fermented
vinegar from any manufactured one.
Making vinegar is surprisingly easy. By simply combining wine, water with mother
of vinegar culture and adding the most important components – time and
patience, you’ll be rewarded with the full crisp flavors and nuances of your
own barrel-aged wine vinegar. You may
begin using your vinegar as soon as it has fully converted, however - you’ll
find that the longer it ages … the better it becomes.
Step One - MOV Prep
1 - Quart Jar
1 - 8oz Jar - Mother
of Vinegar (Acetobactar aceti)
2 - Cups Wine (or
Strong Flavored Beer/Ale if using Malt Culture)
1 - Cup Filtered or
- Pour the Mother of Vinegar (MOV) into the sterilized quart
- Add 2 cups of wine and 1 cup of filtered/bottled water –
aerate by stirring vigorously.
- Cover the opening of the jar with several layers of
cheesecloth securing it with a rubber band (the cheesecloth protects the
contents by keeping dust out & fruit flies from entering).
Store the covered jar in a relatively warm (70° – 80°) and
open environment that provides adequate air circulation (Ex: kitchen counter vs. inside a cabinet or
pantry). In approximately 6 - 8 weeks a
mother will form and float on the top of the wine giving visible confirmation
that vinegar is being produced. The
mother may be thick or gelatinous – others may be filmy or more like a leathery
Your nose is the best tool for assessing when the vinegar is
done. If it smells more like vinegar
than wine – it’s done. Taste it. It should taste very ‘vinegary’ and make your
mouth pucker – if not … wait a few more weeks to be sure the contents have thoroughly
converted. (Though most usually ‘go by
taste’, for a more scientific approach, you can purchase test kits from your
local homebrew or winemaking supply stores.
You can use a pH meter or titration kit to check acidity and to
determine whether or not the acetic fermentation is complete.)
Your resulting vinegar is ‘live’ and filled with active
acetobactar – it will be used as the base to add to your barrel to begin making
your barrel-aged wine vinegar.
Step Two - Barrel Prep
Begin barrel prep by thoroughly rinsing the inside of the
barrel with water. Using a rubber mallet,
carefully tap in the spigot till snug.
To swell the barrel, fill with water to 90% capacity (do not fill to the
brim). The barrel may drip a little
until the staves have swelled. Let it
swell for an additional 24 hours – then empty the water.
Step Three - Barrel-Aged Vinegar
1 – Oak Vinegar
1 - Quart of ‘live’
2 - Parts of Wine
1 - Part Filtered
or bottled Water
Cork (if necessary
– see notes*)
Add the quart of converted live vinegar and mother to the barrel. Fill the remaining barrel with mixture of 1 part water to 2 parts wine leaving 2" airspace at the top. Cover the 3” opening
with cheesecloth. Keep your barrel in a warm (70° – 80°) and ventilated
area. In approximately 6 – 8 weeks
conversion should have taken place and the vinegar is ready to enjoy.