photo by Dave KochI have never been a fan of red wine vinegar, and simply because they always seem watered down.  The gold standard brand, Regina, is often all you can find at the store - and although it does the trick, it is lacking both depth and character.  There are spectacular balsamic vinegars out there and most people have tasted them before.  Why then, is red wine vinegar so often ignored?

A friend of mine recently started making his own vinegar with a mother he purchased at our local homebrew supply store, San Francisco Brewcraft.  They are wealth of information by the way on any and everything fermented: beer, wine, and vinegar.  My friend's vinegar mother regenerated and he gave my two discs of mother.

For my wine selection, I wanted to go with something deep, dark, and tannic; the antithesis of your typical store-bought red wine vinegar.  I chose a superbly rich Petite Syrah (which is also called Durif).  It looked like black ink.  I bought a glass jar at The Container Store and removed the wire and lid.  I poured in the wine, added the mother, secured a coffee filter with a rubber band, placed it in the cupboard, and began the waiting process.

Tasting it every few weeks allowed me to follow its progress.  At 6 weeks, the wine-y flavors had definitely moved aside and the distinct pungency of vinegar took over.  After three months, it was strong enough to take your breath away... literally.  It was so potent at this point, taking a sip could asphyxiate you.  It was delicious.


photo by Dave Koch

I found a nice little retro glass salad dressing container and diluted it 1:1 with water.  At this strength, the acidity mimicked what I was used to, but my creation was a heck of a lot more flavorful.  With this in my armamentarium, my Perfect Vinaigrette is complete.  It is tangy, earthy, salty, and nutty.  It enhances the vegetable's flavor without overpowering them.


Perfect Vinaigrette: 

  • 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil, the grassier the better
  • 3-4 tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar, homemade is best!
  • 1 heaping tablespoon Mustard, I prefer Dijon
  • 1 heaping teaspoon Brewer's Yeast, I like TwinLab
  • Salt and Black Pepper, to taste

Whisk everything together or put into a mason-type jar and shake well.  Taste before adding salt as brewer's yeast is naturally salty (and nutty, and delicious).  You can adjust the oil to vinegar ratio to you liking.  I like mine with a lot of black pepper.  

Toss over salad and enjoy! 

Authordavid koch