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. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

Can I turn table grapes into wine vinegar?

—Peter A., Invercargill, New Zealand

Dear Peter,

It might be possible to turn table grapes into wine, and that wine into vinegar, but it’s not going to be easy, it’s going to take a long time, and in the end, I’m not sure it’s going to work. I’d start by forgetting about it.

First off, table grapes and wine grapes are grown and bred for very different functions. That’s why you don’t see wine made from Thompson Seedless grapes, or Pinot Noir grapes for sale in the produce section. Table grapes typically don’t have enough sugar to convert to alcohol, aren’t picked ripe enough, and don’t have the skin-to-seed-to-pulp ratio that gives wine its flavor and structure.

Even if you were able to coax some table grapes into wine—I’m guessing by adding a bunch of sugar to the mix—then you have to try to coax that wine into vinegar, and I’ve explained before—whether it’s red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar—even though the process is pretty straightforward, it’s not always guaranteed it will work. My first few vinegar attempts resulted in nothing but a bunch of fruit flies.

That said, if you’re the mad scientist type with some time on your hands and not easily frustrated by fruit flies, go for it! Be sure to report back with your results. And if you’re just looking for something to do with a bunch of excess table grapes before they go bad, wash them, remove them from their stems and freeze them for a tasty, healthy treat.

—Dr. Vinny


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