Everything you need to know about vinegar.

We’ve been using vinegar since 3000 BC. We put malt on our chips, balsamic on our salads, and white on our stains. But getting to know every vinegar can revolutionise your home cooking. These are our top picks. Here’s everything you need to know.

What is it

It's just starch, water, and sugar. Back in the day, it was made by allowing fruits and vegetables to age, producing alcohol compounds through fermentation. Microorganisms eat the ethanol from the fermentation process and produce acetic acid — vinegar. That's why if you leave your bottle of Pinot Noir open for a bit too long it starts smelling all vinegary. This process takes a long time, so nowadays, we have sped things up a little. But good vinegar takes time, and time is money. So if you’re willing to splash out on your extra virgin olive oil, why not do the same for your vinegar?


Pop any vinegar in a cool, dark environment. It’ll preserve the character and acidity of your vinegar for much longer. Good vinegars last you a lifetime.

Which vinegars do I need?

Apple Cider Vinegar

ACV should be sweet, smell like apples and have a medium-sharp acidity. It should taste like hard apple cider. So before you use it, consider if your dish will taste good with apples. Stick it in your salad dressings, in your slaws or in meat marinades (better still, BBQ pork).

White Wine Vinegar

When tackling the wine vinegars, the best question to ask yourself is “What wine would I pair with this dish?”. So, for any dish you would pair with white wine, use white wine vinegar. White vinegar is lighter than red, which makes it more delicate and less able to stand up to red meats. It’s a gentle vinegar, treat it as such. Great for your quick pickles.

Red Wine Vinegar

Made from, you guessed it, red wine. So the main flavour, behind the tang, is red fruit. Red wine vinegar tends to be punchier than white with a more vibrant grape flavour. It’s hot and robust and can stand up to bold flavours. The perfect base for a sharp, sour vinaigrette or marinade and a smart secret ingredient in a rich, meaty ragù.

Sherry Vinegar

Sherry vinegar is like balsamic (in that it takes a long time to make and is wonderfully complex) but it has the versatility that balsamic lacks. Moscatel falls under the sherry umbrella: it’s a vinegar we return to again and again for its floral, perfumed aroma. Sweet, smooth and rich. We tend to add a dash of sherry vinegar to most dishes.

Honourable Mentions

Rice vinegars warrant a mention. Made of fermented rice wine, they have a clean flavour, and subtle sweetness, and are a great all-rounder. A slight hit of acidity that won’t overpower the rest of your dish. It’s a real workhorse in seasoning rice, marinating meats or dressing salads. Chinkiang, or black rice vinegar, has been making it into some of our recipes as of late. Made from glutinous rice and used in much Chinese cooking. It’s got a complexity we have never seen before. As well as a gorgeous dark colour.

“Chef, if you could only cook with one vinegar for the rest of time, what would it be?”

There was a big divide in the OTK between apple cider and sherry. Verena went apple cider, for its all-around handiness, Milli went sherry for its all-around tastiness, and Chaya just couldn’t choose between the two.