Why haven’t I made this at home before? This is one of those food projects that have been a long time in the planning stages, one of those projects where I’ve been thinking, “You know, I should definitely do that.” It doesn’t sound terribly hard. It’s not fear of failure or expense (factors that that keep me from trying more adventurous dry curing projects). It’s just that I haven’t ever gotten around to it. I mean, it’s sour wine. Wine doesn’t often sit around here for long enough to sour, but it occasionally does. And after good friends of ours got married in October, and ended up with quite a few opened bottles of wine that they were happy to share, it was as good a time as any to try this whole process out.
Wine starts to oxidize as soon as it’s exposed to air; in the presence of oxygen it gets worked over by acetic acid-producing bacteria (Acetobacters), which metabolize alcohol into acetic acid, which is vinegar. I started by reading a bunch of blog posts (linked below), and reading up on Sandor Katz’s terrific book The Art of Fermentation. I ended up using the basic guidelines from Ideas in Food: roughly equal parts red wine and raw apple cider vinegar for one batch; white wine and cider vinegar in the other.
After it seemed like most or all of the alcohol had been converted to vinegar (by smell and taste), I transferred some of each batch to swing-top Grolsch bottles to slow further oxidation. Then I fed/topped off the mason jars with additional wine and returned them to the pantry shelf in the basement. I’m pretty happy with the taste of both of them. They’re zippy for sure, not alcoholic zip, but with plenty of bright fruit and herbal flavors that I’m looking forward to trying in a number of dishes: roast chicken, smoked pork, and caramelized onions come to mind. I can also see a cider vinegar, and an alegar fermetning away in the near future, now that the opening jitters are out of the way.
Some posts that I found helpful: