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Recommendations for sherry vinegar?

okra Jan 11, 2011 06:27 AM

I'm looking for an everyday sherry vinegar for salad dressings, etc, and figured that if anyone in the area would know, this group would.

Thanks!

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    grant.cook RE: okra Jan 11, 2011 07:10 AM

    Any reason you don't just go to WF and pick up something in a moderate price range? If you wanted something high end, what are your tastes? I suspect there's some variation in product and laying that out there might help the vinegar gurus make a better recommendation..

    6 Replies
    1. re: grant.cook
      okra RE: grant.cook Jan 11, 2011 07:42 AM

      Thanks grant - I'll do that and use it as a basis for my opoinion... Vinegar gurus? Sounds serious! Does Trader Joe's have a passable product?

      -----
      Trader Joe's
      1427 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02476

      1. re: okra
        StriperGuy RE: okra Jan 11, 2011 07:43 AM

        If they sell a sherry vinegar I am sure TJs is decent.

        1. re: StriperGuy
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          hobbess RE: StriperGuy Jun 5, 2011 12:54 AM

          Anybody tried Aecovi-Jerez Sherry Vinegar?

          I saw it in Sur La Table, so by that logic, does this mean that this sherry vinegar is good?

          I see increasingly more recipes that call for the use of sherry vinegar but this vinegar has pedro jimenez sweet wine in it so will that throw off the balance of the recipe if I use this sherry vinegar?

          1. re: hobbess
            StriperGuy RE: hobbess Jun 5, 2011 08:32 AM

            Those are just balsamico wanna-bes. The most common and genuine sherry vinegars are dryish, with a wonderful comlpexity and nutty flavor.

            It seems quite a few of the Spanish producers are introducing more of these balsamico inspired sweeter varieties. I am sure there is some precedent for it, but 20 years ago, pretty much ANY Spanish vinegar was dry, and quite delicious.

            See below in the thread for more info on sherry vinegars.

            1. re: StriperGuy
              h
              hobbess RE: StriperGuy Jun 5, 2011 04:23 PM

              But, 20 years ago, wasn't there a tradition already in place of Jerez housewives adding a small quantity of old pedro jimenez wine to the sherry vinegar? That's what I got from reading Zingerman's book which was published almost ten 10 years ago.

              If that's true, then what's wrong with doing it directly at the bodega and doing the same thing?

              1. re: hobbess
                StriperGuy RE: hobbess Jun 7, 2011 06:12 AM

                Not really.

                That's Zingerman's marketing machine winding up. The "I wanna be like balsamico" trend is at least 10 years old.

                I wont go so far as to say as "noone in Spain EVER made a sweet vinegar in Spain. But I've been going to Spain since I was a kid in 1977 and NEVER encountered a sweet vinegar used or sold ANYWHERE EVER until very recently.

                In fact I used to get the "for the trade only" Spain GourmeTour magazine, a collection of excellent articles, and lots of ads, and they never had sweet vinegars until about 10 years ago.

                There is almost no tradition of sweet vinegars in Spain.

                In fact, corrupting one of the great vinegars in the world by sweetening it would be anathema to someone who really appreciated and understood good sherry vinegar.

    2. StriperGuy RE: okra Jan 11, 2011 07:42 AM

      Seriously, per grant.cook below, pretty much any genuine made in Spain sherry vinegar is going to be quite good. Heck most Shaw's have at least one. Marty's in Newton has some very nice ones.

      I am a HUGE fan and think the current obsession with 3rd rate garden variety Aceto Balsamico (the really good ones are great) is a shame.

      If you want to go really nuts head to Formaggio. I usually have at least one, if not several Spanish vinegars in the house at any time, and have never been disappointed.

      9 Replies
      1. re: StriperGuy
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        debbiel RE: StriperGuy Jan 15, 2011 08:29 AM

        I agree with you on the obsession with cheap balsamic. Give me sherry vinegar over cheap balsamic any day. I can't imagine a kitchen without sherry vinegar.

        1. re: StriperGuy
          h
          hobbess RE: StriperGuy Jul 18, 2011 01:38 AM

          So, you think Formaggio's sherry vinegar selection is well-edited?

          The irony is that the Cepa Vieja Sherry Vinegar by Vinagres de Yema and the Solera 77 Special Reserve Sherry Vinegar are the only sherry vinegars sold by Formaggio even though you've pooh-poohed both of them.

          I'm not one of those people who wants to spend money just for the sake of spending money. If I can get a great product for less money, then that's great. At the same time, I'd rather pay more money to guarantee that I'm going to get a good product than waste $10 dollars on a product that turns out to be no good.

          Throughout this thread, you've kept on reiterating the same point that no self-respecting Spainard would ever pay more than $10 for a sherry vinegar.

          But, I see two potential problems with that point:

          A) Just because you can find quality sherry vinegars in Spain for under $10 doesn't mean you can find quality sherry vinegars here in America for under $10. Its like just because I can rent an apartment for X amount where I live now doesn't mean I'm going to find a similar apartment for that price in NYC.

          Can we find any of these best sherry vinegars that also cost less than $10 here in America in our grocery stores across this country?

          Is Don Bruno one of the best sherry vinegars? Its less than $10, made in Jerez by the solera method.

          B) If we turned around the statement that most Spanish people are only going to buy sherry vinegars that cost less than $10, you could also make the statement that most Americans are only going to buy beer from large companies like Budweiser and would never pay more than that to buy craft beer. If the question came up about what's a good beer to buy, would you tell them to buy Budweiser because that's what most Americans drank?

          I think even in Belgium, home to Westvleteren and Rochefort Trappiste beers, their most popular drink is Stella Artois.

          1. re: hobbess
            StriperGuy RE: hobbess Jul 18, 2011 04:28 AM

            Gosh I guess I have not made my point. I am sure Don Bruno is a passable sherry vinegar, I have not tried it. Give it a whirl, it's only $8.

            ALL sherry vinegar in Spain is made using the Solera system cause it's made from, wait for it Sherry, which is made that way.

            Typically they are nice, nuttly vinegars, with a hint of bite a hint of sweetness, and a nice after taste of nutty complexity that lingers a bit. They do a darn nice job with some EVOO in dressing a salad with no additional adornment.

            It does not taste like 30 year balsamico, it tastes like a decent Oloroso or Amontillado that has been turned into vinegar. Don't expect some powerhouse of concentrated grape essence that you get with a serious balsamico because sherry vinegar is essentially... vinegar.

            Sherry vinegar is NOT a luxury item in Spain, it is a GREAT every-day good, in which quality is expected. Sherry vinegar in Spain is like a decent loaf of bread, or decent tapas, it is ubiquitous. Every corner Tienda has 3-4 varieties, all pretty similar, all excellent, all reasonably priced.

            Honestly most American supermarkets carry at least one Spanish sherry vinegar, and guess what, it is usually quite decent at sub $10. Just go buy it in the international section. Even the Roland brand, generally not my favorite for other foods, is pretty good.

            I haven't checked out Formaggio's selection in a while, but gosh, no surprise that they err on the fru fru, and don't even carry a reasonable one. That's Formaggio for ya.

            Honestly the last two bottles I bought last were at Marty's in Newton, and Restaurant Depot, and both were around $8. I'd check the brand, but I'm on vaca right now.

            To quote Sidney Frank (the creator of Grey Goose Vodka) http://nymag.com/nymetro/news/bizfina...

            "People want to pay more" in order to feel like they are getting something special. That has become utterly true of the high end vinegar market based on the whole balsamic thing.

            If you feel better paying more, no harm no foul. You will end up buying a product that the average Spanish consumer would not necessarily even recognize as vinegar. Some rarified, balsamic-like, highly concentrated, perhaps justifiably pricey product, that was conceived of exclusively for the export market that "wants to pay more."

            Want that same effect without the $. Mix a little decent Cream Sherry ($12 and tasty in it's own right) with your sherry vinegar. Heck bottle it and sell it to Americans for $25 a bottle while you're at it.

            On a separate note, Spanish sherries are and have always been one of the great wine bargains. Never fails to amaze me what spectacular wines they are at crazy cheap price points. Run on out and get a bone dry Manzanilla, a deep nutty Oloroso, or a decent sweet Cream or Pedro Ximenez. I avoid the Lustau (just to be adventurous) brand and find lesser known bottles at a good big, well stocked store Promise you won't be disappointed. World class wines at very decent prices.

            Eventually someone in Spain will figure out how to charge more there as well. After all, it's what some people obviously want.

            1. re: StriperGuy
              d
              debbiel RE: StriperGuy Jul 18, 2011 02:50 PM

              I agree with just about everything here StriperGuy, except for the statement that most American supermarkets carry sherry vinegar. I live in a town of about 100,000 people. I can get all sorts of wonderful food products, but there are times when I cannot get a sherry vinegar. Three years ago ONE supermarket in town carried one sherry. Now I can sometimes get it at a food co-op but sometimes need to get it from a wine store or specialty store. This weekend I tried the usual suspects and could not find a single bottle. Later this week, I'll go on the broader hunt. I'm baffled that it's not carried by more places (cooking without sherry vinegar? how?), but that's the way it is.

              1. re: debbiel
                StriperGuy RE: debbiel Jul 18, 2011 05:33 PM

                I apologize for my bigger city bias.

                Most supermarkets in greater Boston carry at least one. Though even here it can be tricky at times. I have no doubt that a bit further afield it is not so easy to find. The internet and a good gourmet store are good next bets but both probably pricier.

                That said, sherry vinegar over cheap balsamico any day.

                1. re: StriperGuy
                  d
                  debbiel RE: StriperGuy Jul 18, 2011 07:14 PM

                  I didn't even think you had a big city bias. I just thought, hey, I'm in a small city of 100,000; I bet it can be REALLY tough for folks in small towns. I start looking with a half bottle left, so I'm usually ok.

                  1. re: debbiel
                    StriperGuy RE: debbiel Jul 19, 2011 11:15 AM

                    Buy 2. Stuff keeps forever ;-)

                    1. re: StriperGuy
                      d
                      debbiel RE: StriperGuy Jul 19, 2011 02:29 PM

                      :) If only I had the storage space... Picked some up today in a gourmet store in the town where I work (another 100,000 pop place). I almost missed it..one sherry vinegar option among the 16 balsamic vinegar options. Yeah, I counted them. At least it was only $8.

              2. re: StriperGuy
                h
                hobbess RE: StriperGuy Jul 20, 2011 01:35 AM

                That was an interesting article, but..

                The whole people wanting to pay more phenomenon for premium vodka was about young wall street turks who wanted to ostentatiously spend money as a signal to impress women at bars to show how much money they had if they could spend that much on vodka.

                If I'm spending more money on sherry vinegar, its not like I'm trying to impress some floozy at a bar.

                And, the magazine article acts if its all a big charade as if people are being fooled into paying more because there's no difference between premium vodka vs cheaper vodka even though there's a smoothness difference- the cheaper vodka burns.

          2. d
            DoubleMan RE: okra Jan 11, 2011 07:45 AM

            I like the Columela available at WF and other places.

            Side question: Where can one find a good selection of higher end sherry vinegar for finishing and what not? Even places like Formaggio seem to eschew sherry vinegar to offer lots more aged balsamic.

            1 Reply
            1. re: DoubleMan
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              grant.cook RE: DoubleMan Jan 11, 2011 08:02 AM

              Spanish table or that other online site - la tienda? Or Zingerman's perhaps.. all require shipping, of course..

            2. g
              grant.cook RE: okra Jan 11, 2011 08:01 AM

              And you want to be adventurous, go get some Chinkiang vinegar... "sherry" vinegar for those with an Asian bent..

              7 Replies
              1. re: grant.cook
                StriperGuy RE: grant.cook Jan 11, 2011 08:32 AM

                I have to say, recently I have been blown away by some of the exotic vinegars (can't even remember the names) I have purchased at various Chinese grocery stores around town.

                I actually DO NOT like the vinegar selection on tienda.com right now. It is an excellent site in general, but they seem to be focusing on (pricier) sweet Pedro Ximenez vinegars, which are really a new phenomena and are essentially balsamico wanna bes.

                The best Spanish sherry vinegars are nutty, and dryish (not bone dry) and not necessarily "finishing vinegars" and generally cost less than $10 a bottle. To a Spaniard, spending even $10 on a bottle of vinegar would be laughable. In your average Spanish Corte Ingles supermarket they probably have 15 different EXCELLENT vinegars for under 6 Euros a bottle.

                Heck, here's a nice one on line:

                http://www.ibfoods.com/store/item.asp...

                Also some of the English language web sites mislabel many of these vinegars. A Solera 20 vinegar does not mean ALL of the vinegar in tthe bottle is 20 years old, but some of it is. For more info on Solera aging:

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solera

                1. re: StriperGuy
                  paulj RE: StriperGuy Jan 14, 2011 11:51 AM

                  I like a Don Bruno brand that CostPlus World Markets sells. It's about $8 for 750ml.

                  1. re: paulj
                    v
                    Val RE: paulj Jan 15, 2011 10:14 AM

                    +1 for Don Bruno (product of Spain) at World Market; when I saw the prices for sherry vinegar at our WF, I said "WHAT?!" -- at that time last year, I think the lowest cost bottle at WF was $14. Am very happy with the Don Bruno.

                  2. re: StriperGuy
                    h
                    hobbess RE: StriperGuy Jul 17, 2011 01:27 PM

                    What about Tienda's non-Pedro Ximenez vinegars like this one, Cepa Vieja Sherry Vinegar by Vinagres de Yema:

                    http://www.tienda.com/food/products/v...

                    Has anybody heard or tried that sherry vinegar?

                    The translation of the name means 'Old Vine' but I'm a bit confused by that. On the bottle, it only says Reserva even though I've read that they're aging it for 24 years from a solera that's 40 years old. But, if that's true, shouldn't it be classified as a Gran Reserva?

                    I'm assuming the older it is, then the better it will be, right?

                    1. re: hobbess
                      StriperGuy RE: hobbess Jul 17, 2011 09:47 PM

                      To most Spaniards these super fancy vinegars would be a total mystery. The are almost exclusively for the export market. A plain sherry vinegar is fine and should not really be more than 10 bucks.

                  3. re: grant.cook
                    okra RE: grant.cook Jan 11, 2011 10:04 AM

                    I'm still learning my way around the new HK/Super 88. Where there used to be 7 varieties of fish sauce, I could only find one now. Signs, by country that hang over the aisles don't seen to correlate to the aisles below them. Again, I'm thinking salad dressings so...

                    1. re: grant.cook
                      buttertart RE: grant.cook Jan 14, 2011 11:06 AM

                      Re Chinese black (Chinkiang/Zhenjiang) vinegar: The Gold Plum brand puts out a special reserve for about $7.00 a bottle, I keep meaning to get some. I think Chinese black vinegar tastes smokier than sherry vinegar, though I love them both.

                    2. C. Hamster RE: okra Jan 11, 2011 08:36 AM

                      I generally mule my oils and vinegars up from Zabars or Fairway which both have a good selection of sherry vinegars.

                      There is a Spanish foods place next to Estragon. What about there?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: C. Hamster
                        StriperGuy RE: C. Hamster Jan 11, 2011 08:41 AM

                        I am sure the grocery store next to Estragon has some good stuff.

                        Nice call on Fairway or Zabars! Probably the only two places in the US that I know of that have a Spanish style selection of good vinegars at Spanish prices.

                      2. tim irvine RE: okra Jan 15, 2011 09:17 AM

                        I picked up a bottle of Ybarra a week or two ago and it is "thin" to me. Usually I love Sherry vinegar. I have been making own wine vinegars, both red and white, for a few years now and heartily recommend this. I found a couple of organic unfiltered vinegars, a red and a white, with some wisps of mother in them, and used them to start my vinegars. My red is odd leftovers of primarily cabs with an occasional pinot noir or zin. The white is largely pinot gris with an occasional sauvignon blanc and a little Domaine Chandon blancs de noir. They are both way better than anything I can get at a reasonable price at the grocery store, even Central Market.

                        Although I have a fancy vinegar crock that got me started (the white is in it), the red lives in an old Del-Dixie pickle jar and does just fine.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: tim irvine
                          StriperGuy RE: tim irvine Jan 17, 2011 07:39 AM

                          Way cool!

                        2. Delucacheesemonger RE: okra Jun 5, 2011 05:46 AM

                          Blis, the fab syrup manufacturer, also makes two sherry vinegars, that are aged in the syrup casks for an extended period. The older one is a replacement for 100 yr balsamic and costs a lot less, very expensive but a lot less. Not for salad dressings, but for finishing. It is really super. Called Elixir

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Delucacheesemonger
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                            hobbess RE: Delucacheesemonger Jun 9, 2011 10:53 PM

                            So, let's say you walk into a store and see a sherry vinegar you've never heard of before. Is there anyway of knowing if its good or not from the labeling before you even taste it?

                            I would have thought that the Jerez DdO, the Spanish appelation of where it comes from, would be a good signal. But, the Aecovi-Jerez Sherry Vinegar had Jerez Ddo.

                            So, anything I should look at on the label?

                            Maybe, by looking at how old some of the vineagr is? And, how old should that vinegar be? 25 years old? 30 years old?

                            Is it correct to always assume that the older it is, the better it is?

                            1. re: hobbess
                              Delucacheesemonger RE: hobbess Jul 17, 2011 03:07 PM

                              Age usually denotes complexity. Some are sweet, some not. The solera 77 listed below is not aged much but is an excellent product IMHO. l have some 70 YO ones that should be wonderful but for my palate are not that much improved over the 77.

                          2. arktos RE: okra Jul 17, 2011 01:46 PM

                            What you want to get is: SOLERA 77 SHERRY VINEGAR RESERVE. Very high quality, with a nice nose and doesn't overpower. Only a few drops can totally change a bowl of black beans.

                             
                            4 Replies
                            1. re: arktos
                              StriperGuy RE: arktos Jul 17, 2011 09:52 PM

                              That it still insanely expensive for a sherry vinegar. If you told someone in Spain you spent more than $10, or (they are cheaper there) even $5 on a bottle they would think you are nuts.

                              As I said above, the super pricey vinegars are essentially recent creations to satisfy the export market. You could not buy them at all in Spain until recently and they largely arose because of the success of the balsamic vinegar craze.

                              Most Spaniards would just buy a decent (and in my book some of the best vinegars in the world) sherry vinegar at the supermarket. Any decent supermarket would have a dozen or so excellent brands all under 6 Euros (these would typically retail here if you could find them for $6 to $14.)

                              Might be a good product, but $25 for a bottle of vinegar...

                              1. re: StriperGuy
                                arktos RE: StriperGuy Jul 18, 2011 03:17 PM

                                Actually if you look in the right places, you can find bargin prices. Such as $14- a bottle from AMAZON, which is a steal for a 40 year aged vinegar.

                                http://www.amazon.com/Solera-77-Sherr...

                                Also, it's not my 'to go' vinegar, I have others for that. It's only used in small quantities for special occasions. My litle bottle of Solera I bought a year ago is still half full, and will probably last another year. And as I said, a little goes a long way, just a few drops will change a dish; it's pretty powerful and concentrated.

                                1. re: arktos
                                  StriperGuy RE: arktos Jul 18, 2011 05:37 PM

                                  Keep in mind in Solera-aged products not every drop in the bottle is 40 years old. Only a bit in fact. Somewhere above I linked to a site describing Solera aging which is unique to sherry. Basically a cascade of barrels where they take some from the bottom, use the next tier to top off, and up the cascade. So the solera itself is 40 years old, and some percent of the vinegar or sherry (sometimes very little) is 40 years old, but not even close to the entire bottle, nor is it intended that way.

                                2. re: StriperGuy
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                                  MacGuffin RE: StriperGuy Jul 18, 2013 10:28 AM

                                  I picked it up at Fairway for $8 and really like it (somewhat more, in fact, than than the Gran Capirete 50 I picked up for $10 and which has more kick and a bit less finesse). I'm hoping they continue to carry it; I got the last bottle of each on the shelf.

                                  I'm new to Sherry vinegar and have been reading all of your very informative comments with interest. :) Good input!

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