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Dec 19, 2011 06:37 PM

Need wine suggestions for my new vinegar oak barrel


I've been very blessed to have found a bottle of Kosher Balsamic Vinegar with a very healthy mother of vinegar in it. I hope to say that gone are the days of frustration over the lack of truly excellent vinegars, especially the specialty variations like sherry or champagne. I ordered a toasted oak wood barrel to inoculate. The barrel came in last week and has been undergoing a long H20 soak to supersaturate the wood which already gives off the most incredible Jack Daniels nose (giving me a new appreciation for my bourbons btw).

I already have the sherry and champagne covered. What I need from you, my chow buddies, is your advice on the fruitiest MEVUSHAL red wine you can think of to fill this 5 gallon beauty. Supposedly, the combo of toasted oak and fruit is key to a making a truly great vinegar. Keep in mind that I will need about two cases to feed this mother and barrel as such please keep suggestions to under $20a bottle.

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  1. I'm not sure I agree. By the time everything is oxidized (as will occur with vinegar formation), the fruit will be gone... unless:

    you start with grape juice, as is the manner of Balsamic, which typically begins entirely with boiled juice of the Trebbiano grape. Then the intense sweetness helps to preserve some fruit. Without fail, all otherwine vinegar becomes a matter of either incomplete vinegar formation with some preservation of a semblance of the original type of wine used, or a matter of strength of acetic acid, with some esterification of the acetate, largely to ethel acetate, but often to acetate esters of other alcohols, but not esters of many of the other acids, simply because the vast majority of acidity is contributed by acetic acid, and other esters largely oxidize away. Not much fruitiness remains. Which is not to say that no charactersitics of the original wine remain. The sweeter wines maintain their body, red wines maintain a bit of the tactile componentry of the mix of phenolics.

    In any case, good luck with the vinegar!

    Nor would I say that toasted oak is a key to wine vinegar. In fact, most great vinegar, such as Balsamic, is made in very neutral barrels.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ganeden

      Well, thanks ganeden, I think. While very educational, what I was asking for were suggestions for which wine to use to make my vinegar...the only thing you did not touch upon. I know that balsamic starts with a mosto, or basically a young boiled grapejuice, but that is also a method that requires a battaria, and I have only one barrel to play with right now, not 7 in increasingly larger sizes. I've already bought and prepared my toasted oak barrel....I'm fairly committed at this point. The last piece of the puzzle lies in my choice of wines. Gary & Rich from SKYVIEW WINES in Riverdale ( I cannot speak highly enough about their knowledge and selection) recommended The Pinotage from Barkan or the Red Canaan from Dalton/Upper Galilee. I am bringing both bottles home tonight to try out. C'mon ganeden, you must have phenomenal suggestions for me. Sorry this chef drinks whiski(e)s & beer. The wines I do enjoy are for the most part non-mevushal and the STAR-K wouldn't let me play with any of them here in Gemstone's kitchens.

      1. re: gotcholent

        Typically, I would go cheap. I'd probably try Sara B moscato if I wanted a fruity wine. Terpenes should still remain unoxidized in part, thus creating your best chance of preservation of fruitiness even with near-complete conversion of alcohol and sugar to acetic acid. Sara B is a quality Moscato, and quite inexpensive. But, can only be purchased, as far as I know, from Trader Joe.

    2. 1 month update... All four of my batches seem to be doing quite well. The mother of vinegar has taken a really strong hold in each of my four batches; 2 Israeli reds, 1 sherry and 1champagne. Check out these pix of the mothers..... 1 more week and we going to go to barrels, except the champagne, as I'm worried that the oak would totally overwhelm it's subtly sophisticated nuances. Will keep y'all posted.

      1 Reply
      1. re: gotcholent

        How did these turn out in the end? I'm anxious to make my own and was thinking of using the mother from a bottle of Bragg's ACV. Would love to hear more about your experience and any tips you care to share.

      2. That's a beautiful barrel, but I thought that the hole was in the wrong spot. Why is the hole so big and why is it there? Anyway, just buy a great mother,which,of course I have. It's forty years old,started with Gemello wines and aged to perfection.

        1. which kosher balsamic vinegar? where do you get kosher sherry and kosher chanpagne viengar-do you make it yourself?

          1 Reply
          1. re: koshergourmetmart

            So three years have passed and b'H the vinegars are doing so well. The starting mother was very strong and we were able to inoculate a couple cases each of kosher sherry and champagne in addition to the red wine. While the barrel experiment has been an amazing one, it has produced a really lovely red wine vinegar and not the balsamic vinegar I prayed for. Nevertheless, it's been a great ride and I can't imagine ever going back to bottled commercial vinegars.