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Vinegar recommendations for salad dressings?

I've been trying to make some homemade salad dressings lately, and have been failing miserably. My balsamic vinaigrettes turn out well, but everything else has been pretty bad, and I think it's because I use good quality balsamic but use whatever white wine/red wine/apple cider vinegar I have on hand.

Can anyone recommend good brands of these types of vinegar? Thanks so much!

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  1. Tarragon vinegar is good, as are most of the Italian imported red wine vinegars I've tried. One tip for a good basic vinaigrette: be sure to add a spoonful or two of dijon mustard. It not only adds tang, it acts as an emulsifer to keep the oil & vinegar from separating.

    2 Replies
    1. re: BobB

      I agree with Bob- dijon mustard does make a really nice base for dressings- and keeps them together longer.

      I also enjoy champagne vinegar in salad dressings- the other night I made a simple one of just champagne vinegar with peruvian lime olive oil- whisked together and then served immediately- it was refreshing and delicious.

      1. re: fmcoxe6188

        i never make salad dressing without dijon. oil, acid, and dijon. the rest are accessories after the fact. (c:
        my favorite vinegar, i would have to say is rice wine. it has a very mellow, gentle taste. i make this with grapeseed oil, rice wine vinegar, garlic, s&p, and dijon.
        i also love to mash some grapes and put in there occasionally.

    2. I also like champagne vinegar. I love to use an egg yolk as an emulsifier in a dressing.

      1. Here's a thread I started awhile back about vinegars.

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/600263

        It got me turned on to sherry vinegar to which I'm now addicted :) I will never willingly be without it again. I encourage you to try it.

        4 Replies
        1. re: c oliver

          I'd love to try all these types of vinegar -- sherry, champagne, tarragon and others. But I'm hoping to avoid spending a fortune at Whole Foods experimenting with things that turn out to be duds, so if anyone has specific recommendations of brands, I'd really appreciate hearing what you've enjoyed. Thanks!

            1. re: c oliver

              This is great -- thanks, c oliver!

            2. re: grayum

              l posted in c oliver's post as above, and recommended popuret white vinegar from Orleans, still made as wine and not very expensive. There are three banyuls vinegars imported into US now, they are all great, get the least expensive you can find.

          1. I like apple cider vinegar with dijon mustard, shallots, olive oil, and a bit of honey. You can add herbs as well.

            1. How do you feel your dressing failed? too sharp?

              5 Replies
              1. re: wekick

                It was too sharp, but also, I think the vinegar just wasn't very good, because I tried cutting it down significantly and it still didn't taste very good. The fact that the balsamic vinaigrettes turned out fine makes me conclude that it was most likely the vinegar itself that was the problem.

                1. re: grayum

                  The reason I asked is that along with having the right vinegar it also helps to have the right fat/acid ratio. I usually use 3 parts oil to 1 part of the more subtle vinegars but some stronger ones need 1:4. Sometimes I use lemon or another citrus for part of the acid. Sometimes just a teaspoon of sugar can make a difference.

                  1. re: grayum

                    a little honey can round out a dressing very well.

                    I have so many vinegars in the pantry. They all work well to make dressings. I haven't bought a bottled dressing in years. My usual routine goes something like this. In a small jar mix acid, mustard (here again many to choose from including dry mustard), herbs and other aromatics, salt and pepper, sometimes a touch of something sweet, oil usually one to one with the acid. Shake well and taste. Adjust if needed.

                    1. re: scubadoo97

                      agree about store-bought dressing. home-made takes seconds and is far cheaper, with no hfcs.

                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                        I also love adding a few drops of honey, especially where the dijon mustard is involved...adds just a *tweak* of sweetness and offers nicer "mouth-feel" for me anyway. I don't always add honey but sometimes I just WANT it! Hats off to homemade dressings...something as pure and simple as a good quality extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon can do it for me, most days.