ask dr. vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

How do you make white wine vinegar?

—Philip C., France

Dear Philip,

Making white wine vinegar works the same way you make red vinegar. Either cross your fingers and hope it happens naturally, or purchase a vinegar “mother,” the name given to the Acetobacter bacteria that consumes the alcohol from the wine and produces the acid we call vinegar. Some mothers are marketed for generic “wine vinegar,” but I do see others specifically for white wine vinegar.

When I made vinegar, I poured my leftover wine and my mother into a large glass jar and covered the top with some cheesecloth, because fruit flies love vinegar projects. Keep it in a warm spot away from direct light, and within a month, you should know if it’s working or not. I’ve heard anecdotally that white wine vinegar can be harder to start than red wine vinegar, but I think that’s because fewer people try to make the white stuff, and it just doesn’t always work.

Since I last wrote about making vinegar, I learned of a new way to approach it, though I haven’t tried it myself. Apparently if you can find an unpasteurized “living” vinegar at your specialty food shop, it will have a living mother inside, and you can use that as a starter.

—Dr. Vinny


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