Bottle of red, bottle of white. Wine vinegars, along with balsamics, are most popular with foodies. On a mass basis, cider vinegar and distilled white vinegar are the big sellers. Photo courtesy SXC.




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This glossary was developed by KAREN HOCHMAN, Editorial Director of THE NIBBLE.



June 2005

Last Updated December 2012

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Oils, Vinegars & Salad Dressings

Different Types Of Vinegar

Page 5: Vinegar Glossary ~ Types Of Vinegar R To Z


This is page 5 of a five-page article; here, different types types of vinegar from R to Z, including sherry vinegar and wine vinegar. Click on the black links below to visit other pages.


Popular in rice-growing regions, especially China and Japan, these vinegars are made from fermented rice or fermented rice wine. Chinese rice vinegars are usually stronger and darker than those of Japan, which are relatively mild and mellow.

Just as with grapes, rice comes in multiple colors and its color will dictate the vinegar’s color. Black rice vinegars are smoky and best for braising meat. Red rice vinegars have tart and sweet qualities, and are used in soups and with seafood. White rice vinegars are mild and soft. Use them in salad dressings, sauces, or as condiments on fish, vegetables and grain dishes.

  rice vinegar
Red rice vinegar. All vinegar photos by Melody Lan | THE NIBBLE.

Made like sherry from a blend of different wines, authentic sherry vinegar is made in Spain using the solera style of aging, fermented for years in a series of increasingly smaller oak barrels. This long aging process and artisan technique commands a higher price tag than most other vinegars. A dark, intensely-flavored vinegar with a sweet finish, sherry vinegar is used like fine balsamic to add a gourmet touch to dishes. Like the wine, the vinegar induces a connoisseur’s vocabulary: the attributes “fat” and “rich” are often given to vinegars made from sherry, and a fine product’s complexity can be considered “mellow.” There are many gourmet recipes for sherry vinegar; it should also be used with salads featuring cheese.

  sherry vinegar
Sherry vinegar.

See Drinking Vinegar.

See Fruit, Herb & Spice Vinegars.

See Distilled White Vinegar.

While most vinegars in this category are made from red and white wine, there are specialty variations like champagne and sherry vinegars. As with wine, red wine vinegar is aged longer (up to 2 years), while white wine can be aged for as briefly as a few weeks. Red wine vinegars tend to have more roundness of flavor, but white wine vinegars are better suited for lighter colored sauces and other dishes where the red color would be intrusive.

It follows that the higher quality wine used, the better the taste of the vinegar; and the producers of better wine vinegars describe their vinegars as “subtle” and “complex.” Vanity wine vinegars are those made from specific varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Zinfandel, Chardonnay, et al. Using a varietal wine creates a higher-caliber and more expensive product.

White wine vinegar is a staple of French cuisine, for hollandaise and béarnaise sauces, fish marinades and for deglazing. It can be used to bring out the sweetness fruit (e.g. strawberries and melons) and to replace cream, butter and salt, adding flavors without calories and sodium.

  red wine vinegar
Red wine vinegar.

tarragon wine vinegar
White wine vinegar.


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