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ISO good red wine vinegar

I'm pretty much starting from scratch in my kitchen (though I did tuck away a nice collection of Rancho Gordo and Tierra Farm dried beans).

Anyway, I have never gotten a good bottle of red wine vingar in the past. I don't mean balsamic, just standard red wine vinegar.

I have a number of things I want to try that call for it, so I'm hoping for some pointers to the better stuff.

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    1. If I remember, Cooks magazine thought well of Pompeian among the supermarket varieties.

      2 Replies
      1. re: TenderNob

        I'd rather have local. Just haven't bought anything good at farmers markets either. It was a relief to have to move out of the area and toss that red wine vinegar.

        1. re: rworange

          Love, love, love Katz & Company's Late Harvest Zinfandel Agrodolce Wine Vinegar from Napa (not cheap at $11/375ml. but worth it). They have a Red Wine Trio vinegar as well that I haven't tried. Katz vinegars and olive oils are available at Berkeley Bowl and Market Hall, although you'll have to see which varieties are in stock. Chez Panisse reportedly uses their olive oils. I sampled Katz's vinegars at the Pop-up General Store last year where they offer sips of their products and I immediately began scheming of all this things I could top with the vinegar.

      2. I buy Vilux, $2.98 / 750 ml at the Bowl last I checked. I haven't found any good, reasonably-priced California wine vinegar.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Do you know if the Berkeley Bowl brand red wine vinegar is any good?

          Berkeley Bowl
          2020 Oregon St, Berkeley, CA 94703

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Vilux is $5.99/750 ml at Berkeley Bowl East, per shelf label this afternoon.

            ETA: Ah, I see rworange mentioned this (generally speaking) below.

            Berkeley Bowl
            2020 Oregon St, Berkeley, CA 94703

          2. I like the one on tap at the pasta shop on 4th in Berkeley. I think there is a discount if you bring back your bottle for refill.

            1. This is what we use at home. It's not local, but it's excellent.


              1. Sparrow lane puts out great vinegars http://sparrowlane.com/ right here in the Napa valley

                10 Replies
                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Good Vinegar is not cheap and they have great vinegars.
                    You really can only compare these to homemade for depth and complexity of flavor.You can buy it by the gallon or online for less.

                    1. re: chefj

                      You know, I just may not like red wine vinegar.

                      I want to check out the deli's, but time constraints may make that a literal 'crawl' ... a slow crawl ... still I'm too intrigued, but alas, didn't have time to stop at the Italian deli on Telegraph or Zarri's. Ditto on Pasta Shop.

                      Picked up at Berkeley Bowl

                      Katz trio red wine

                      Sparrow Lane Cabernet Sauvignon vinegar

                      The Sparrow Lane was the clear winner. The aroma is complex, it doesn't have as much as that harsh edge that I dislike about red wine vinegar.

                      The Katz reminded me of Sciabica & Sons which has my favorite olive oils but I avoid the vinegar. Maybe red wine vinegar is suposed to have that jagged edge to it like if broken glass could be made into vinegar.

                      Haven't tried cooking with either yet, so that may change things.

                      Can't find my receipts, but the Sparrow Lane was either $8 or $9 for 6.75 fl oz.

                      Had the Vilux been under $3 I would have gave that a shot. However, it was double that price, though a large bottle. Maybe next time, but I was starting to get sucked in to the fruit vinegars. Then ... oooohhh ... the sherry vinegars caught my eye. I. started to imagine myself spending close to $100 on a vinegar selection. I eyed O and some of the others mentioned, but I had to scoot or declare bancruptcy.

                      I guess I'm just a balsamic vinegar type of girl. Whole Foods in Oakland had a nice fig balsamic vinegar and the regular balsamic was pretty good.

                      The olive oil I'm putting off for the farmers market and tasting. Picked up something cheapo from Grocery Outlet for $3.98 for now ... which replaces the shameful 'vegetable' oil I bought there for 99 cents ... which wasn't all that bad ...but still.

                      1. re: rworange

                        Cider and wine vinegars usually have higher acidity (5 to 6%) with less water added and that may be what you are reacting to. Also, they're not sweetened to make them more palatable for tasting. I mean, do you enjoy drinking lemon juice straight? You need that level of acidity ("jagged edge") when making a vinaigrette blended with oil or for pickling and preserving. Most of what's called "balsamic" is wine vinegar sweetened with grape must.

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          Good point. Speaking of lemons, Berkeley Bowl has pink lemons.

                        2. re: rworange

                          That's pretty much how I feel about most California wine vinegars I taste. The flavor's too harsh and not what I'm looking for.

                          Balsamic is sweet, so if you just taste it it's relatively mellow. Dry wine vinegar is pretty unpalatable by itself.

                          Wow, Vilux doubled in price? A bottle lasts me a long time, I use only a tablespoon at most for a salad.

                          Bariani is good local olive oil. My standard is the non-EV Kalamata from Trader Joe's.

                          1. re: rworange

                            Sparrow Lane has a large selection of vinegars.
                            My wine favorite is the Zinfindel. I also like their Walnut and the D'anjou Pear.
                            Lots more to choose from.

                            1. re: chefj

                              Yeah ... that pear was the one that started to suck me into the fruit vinegars. I'lll have to pick up the zin and compare it to the cab.

                              1. re: rworange

                                If you're willing to spend $8 or $9 on a second 6.75 oz. bottle of Sparrow Lane, why not give the Viulx a shot? Then you'd have a classic red wine vinegar as a baseline for comparison.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  Yeah, I was planning to do that. I just wanted to limit my purchase at that time until I tried the first two. Sigh, broke down and bought the Sparrow Lane Gravenstein Apple vinegar today. I prefer Bates and Schmidt apple vinegar which is more balanced and mellow.

                    2. I know you are probably looking for something right away but a few years ago I started making my own red wine vinegar from left over dregs of red wine or bottles that I took a chance on and didn't like or old bottles... best vinegar ever - takes a bout a month to get a good acidic base and now I just throw in a half glass every other week. I will never go back to buying red wine vinegar again. But for some reason the white wine vinegar didn't turn out as well.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: sillyeatinggirl

                        You need "mother" to turn wine into vinegar. I went and found an unfiltered vinegar with some wispy stuff in the bottle (mother). I got one red and one white. I just add dregs when available and when dregs are not available toss in a glass of something I wanted to drink. The vinegar is incomparable.

                      2. I've had good luck with O Olive Oil's wine vinegars, both their Pinot Noir and their Zinfandel. It's pricey but delicious (www.ooliveoil.com, based in Petaluma).


                        1. Some of the old time Italian delis used to make and bottle their own house brand using a mother passed down from their founders. It's been at least a decade since I bought any there, but I remember liking the red wine vinegar at Lucca Delicatessen on Chestnut. Dunno if it still supplies this.

                          Lucca Delicatessen
                          2120 Chestnut St, San Francisco, CA 94123

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            Cool. Road trip ... for me.

                            And a project ... crawl of long-time Italian deli's to check out the red wine vinegar situation.

                            1. re: rworange

                              A very worthy project, look forward to the results. The one recent sighting I can report is in California board territory, Corti Brothers, in Sacramento. I had my hand on a half-gallon jug my last visit there, and now I regret not buying it.

                              1. re: rworange

                                You know Zarri's? Their selection's not great, but it's an old-school place.

                                Zarri's Delicatessen
                                1244 Solano Ave, Albany, CA 94706

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  I'll check, but I don't think it is the type of deli that would have house-made vinegar.

                                  1. re: rworange

                                    I don't believe the private-label stuff was ever house-made, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't exist any more, at least not as such. The place where Molinari used to get its private-label olive oil is now West Coast Products, maybe the vinegar's still around under some brand label as well.

                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      Lucca deli on Chestnut Street did indeed have its own mother. I recall overhearing a conversation about it between the proprietor and a long-time customer many years ago and they mentioned another place that did as well.