Made from sweet, white Trebbiano grapes, this vinegar only became popular outside Italy around 30 years ago. To ensure you are buying the real thing, go for a vinegar that bears either of these names: Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena or Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia. Both are protected by law and the identification ensures that you are buying a balsamic produced in either of these provinces and which has been taste-tested. Balsamic vinegars are aged in various combinations of different types of wood, with some being matured for over a century; this gives each vinegar its own distinctive character. Use aged balsamic as a wonderful dressing on roast meats, salty cheeses and fresh fruits.
RED AND WHITE WINE VINEGARS
Made from fermented wine, the character of the vinegar depends on the quality of the wine, the production, storage and age. Red wine vinegar is great for dressings, deglazing a pan and for dressing salads. White wine vinegar is perfect for cutting rich sauces like hollandaise.
Most commonly made from fermented rice, this type of vinegar originated in Japan and China. Rice vinegar and rice wine vinegar are two different things but the names are sometimes used interchangeably – be aware that they will produce different flavours in cooking and should not be substituted. Rice vinegar originates from the white, black or red grain and is used in cooking. White rice vinegar is the most common and is indispensable in sushi dishes; it is also great in stir-fries. Rice wine such as mirin is used in cooking but products like sake can be used for drinking or cooking.
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
One of the most well-known vinegars, this widely used product is made from cider, which is the result of yeast and sugar being added to apple juice. The acidity depends on the amount of sugar added. It is said to have great health benefits and contains a number of vitamins and minerals. It’s wonderful for dressings, homemade mayonnaise, pickles and chutneys.
You can make delicious flavoured vinegars at home with seasonal fruits and herbs. Always be sure to use a good quality wine or cider vinegar as your base.