Making red wine vinegar
Wondering if any vinegar experts can help. I tried to make wine vinegar using red wine and a bit of Bragg's cider vinegar (to get the mother from this).
I stored it in a dark place, a little warm, and it seemed to be coming along, starting to smell like vinegar, etc. after a few weeks.
But now it smells bad, really bad, and I'm wondering what went wrong. I'm assuming that is not a good thing, and I have to chuck this batch. Any ideas on what happened?
Thanks for the help.
The "mother" is actually the cellulose by-product of the vinegar-making bacterium - acetobacter. They break down alcohol into acetic acid.
To make vinegar from any alcoholic beverage, you need are the correct bacterium & the right environment (room temp is fine + some air circulation - the bacteria are aerobic - but cover the airhole with cheesecloth to keep away fruit flies).
You can get the bacteria from an unpasteurized commercial vinegar - doesn't really matter which variety as you only need to dose your source with a few tablespoons of the living vinegar. Bragg's Cider Vinegar is what I used as an inoculant...
For more years than I care to count, I've had some sort of crock close to my main kitchen sink for emptying wine leavings. My red wine vinegar is a combination of red, white, champagne and God knows what else and is delicious.
Common wisdom tells you to make the vinegar and let it age for varying amounts of time. I've snitched from the crock on a regular basis but likely because there is so much aged product already in there, I haven't noticed a particularly brash note. If there were, I'd tame it with a bit of sugar.
I inherited a "mother" and she's been with me through many moves and is still going strong. You can indeed make vinegar without a mother, however using a mother is like having insurance. Airborne wild yeasts will do the work if they're plentiful and have ample access (read: wide surface area).
FYI: "Vinegar" = French for vin [wine] and aigre [sour] so someone started from scratch.
Currently, I've got some additional jars of fruit vinegars working -- raspberry, cherry & plum seem to be favorites. The base was dipped directly from the red wine vinegar crock and left to age until the vinegar tastes distinctly fruity.
I tried to make a cider vinegar from several pounds of wonderful apples but only produced a bumper crop of fruit flies. Time to try again.