Image from JacobEnos
As the name would suggest, red wine vinegar is made from red wine that ferments until acetic acid forms. Surprisingly, red wine vinegar is also produced similar to wine; it is allowed to age, or it is artificially aged.
How it’s allowed to age influences the vinegar’s overall taste. Though it used to take years to produce red wine vinegar from red wine, modern technology (or the acetator) has allowed us to speed up the process. Still, some might argue that time is key in producing a high quality red wine vinegar; the wooden barrels make a significant difference in the overall taste.
Like everything else, the red wine vinegar you choose for your sauces, like Red Wine Barbecue Sauce, and marinades may be completely different from your neighbor’s preferred brand. But it’s generally agreed that too much tang is not a good thing; a slightly tart vinegar with a hint of sweetness is a good choice, though.
But we’ve yet to answer the big question. Can you use red wine vinegars in place of balsamic vinegar? No cigar!
Unlike other vinegars, balsamic vinegar isn’t made from wine at all. But there are grapes involved. To put it very simply: grapes are boiled down and allowed to age in wooden kegs. Its flavor becomes stronger and it also thickens with time. It can be used in sweet recipes, like Olive Oil Gelato with Balsamic Strawberries, or savory ones, like Pork Cutlets with Figs and Balsamic Vinegar.
Here are a few things to remember when purchasing balsamic vinegar:
Pure balsamic vinegar doesn’t contain additives; the flavor comes from the grapes’ natural sweetness and the wooden kegs the vinegar is aged in. Oh yes…and the older the better!