How to Make Wine Vinegar

make wine vinegar

[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] H[/dropcap]ave you ever ended up with lots of odds and ends of leftover wine and thought to yourself ‘I really should make wine vinegar?’

Well until recently, I hadn’t either. I was happy keeping our little leftovers in the pantry to use in risottos and stews.

I think my lack of enthusiasm for home made vinegar stemmed from the fact that back in my wine making days, one of our biggest fears was accidentally turning a barrel of delicious wine into vinegar.

But when I was pregnant, there was only one wine drinker left in the house. So we started to accumulate a reasonable stash of ‘cooking wine’.

Since I didn’t have a barrel shed of wine to risk spoiling, why not give home made vinegar a try?

And so I did.

It took a while but most of that time I had forgotten about my vinegar project until last year when we were moving house. Without much hope, I took a tiny sample from my jar to taste.

What a surprise!

Delicious, winey and vinegary – in a good way. More along the lines of sherry vinegar (which I adore) rather than commercial red wine vinegar (which I find way too harsh).

It’s now my favourite vinegar.

And I’m actually finding myself happy not to finish the bottle at the end of the evening and save the leftovers for my vinegar stash.

So making vinegar can be good for ones liver as well! Who would have thought?


How to Make Wine Vinegar

I’m giving you a recipe here but really it’s just a rough suggestion to get you going. This isn’t the only way. Experiment and do whatever works for you. Remember the acetic acid bacteria naturally want to do their job so you have nature on your side.

If you’re not a wine drinker you could buy some wine for the sole purpose of making the vinegar. Since we’re going to be oxidizing the wine and basically spoiling it, no need to get anything fancy.

makes: 1 bottle
takes: about 6 months

1 large bottle or jar to store

1. Collect your wine. It’s fine to just designate a bottle and pour your leftovers in as they accumulate over the weeks or months. I think a mix of white, red and champagne makes things more interesting but just one type will still be amazing. The more air that goes into it the better so feel free to shake it as often as you think about it. I keep a lid on so I don’t end up with any flies. But keeping it open to the air with a cloth on top will speed things along.

2. When you’d got enough wine to fill your chosen storage bottle or jar about 3/4s full, it’s time to get serious!

3. The aim is to add enough air to the wine to ‘use up’ any sulfur dioxide remaining in the wine because this preservative will prevent our acetic acid bacteria from doing their job of turning the alcohol into vinegar (acetic acid). The best way to do this is to pour the wine from one vessel to another as many times as your patience allows. A funnel or a jug can make things easier but you could just use two wine bottles.

4. When you’ve had enough (try to do at least 5 pours), pour the wine into your large jar or bottle (the wider the neck the better for air transfer). Cover with some cloth or something that will keep flies out but allow air in.

5. Leave in a dark place until it tastes like vinegar. You can stir every few months (or transfer it out of the jar and back again a few times) to add more air and speed things along if you think about it. Or just do what I did and completely forget about it for 6 months.

6. When you’re happy with the flavour, transfer most of the vinegar to a clean bottle with a lid and start using it! I like to keep some to ‘seed’ my next vinegar batch.

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Video Version of the Recipe

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different alcohol – technically you can make vinegar from anything that contains alcohol such as beer or cider and the method is pretty much the same. The only thing is with high alcohol beverages like vodka, you would need to dilute to get the alcohol content below about 15% because otherwise the bacteria won’t be able to grow.

wine aerator – if you have one of those wine aerators like I do, they are great for helping to get the air into your wine. And the more air, the quicker you get rid of your sulphur and the quicker your acetic acid bacteria can grow. See the video for a demo of mine.

faster – the best way to speed up the bacteria is to get more air into the wine. Warmer temperatures will also help.

using a mother – The first time I made vinegar I just used wine, so no mother like I’ve described above. But using a ‘starter’ or a vinegar that has little floaty bits in it, also called the ‘mother’ to ‘seed’ your new batch of vinegar can help get things happening quicker…

organic – if you use organic or low sulphur wine, you won’t need to aerate as much. But you can’t really over-aerate so err on the side of more.

What do you think?

Did you enjoy this post about making vinegar? Would you like to see more on home made ingredients or do you prefer recipes for meals? I’d really love to know what you think so please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Big love,
Jules x

ps. For more tips on cooking with vinegar see:
* The Best Substitutes for Sherry Vinegar
* The Best Vinegar to Use in Cooking



  • I have been making kombucha for a while and if I leave it for an extra few days it turns into vinegar. I would be interested in your opinion on this.

    • There’s some alcohol produced with kombucha which will get fermented to vinegar. Refrigeration will slow this as will preventing exposure to air.

      I haven’t made kombucha myself… Sounds like fun Christine!

  • I like the vinegar recipe and would like more homemade ingredients — but I mostly want your regular meal recipes.

      • I followed your instructions for making wine vinegar carefully. After 4 months, I was going to aerate it and found something large and solid growing in my vinegar! I did some research and determined it was the fermentation “mother”. Everything I read said to leave it, which I did. I went back at month 5 (3 bottles of wine was now reduced to less than 1 pint of liquid) and poured the vinegar off. The mother was even larger. Sadly, the vinegar tasted terrible – rotten and musty, and I threw it out. Do you have any thoughts on what happened and what I could have done differently, please? I live in the Arizona desert where it is very dry. I keep my house at 76 -78 degrees Fahrenheit. Thanks for your thought – I was looking forward to my vinegar. ?

        • Me, again – I used a piece of the mother and started over with a fresh bottle of wine. Within a few weeks, the surface was covered with what looked, smelled and tasted like mold. I threw it out – 4 bottles of wine wasted. Sure wish I knew what happened!

  • ok, now I’ve got ANOTHER project to add to my long list of “to do’s” but this one will be fun,plus I’ll have the added benefit of a great payoff! And my honey will love the flavor components, like pear, or lemon and orange, or even jalapeño! Can’t wait to play around!
    Thanks for the inspiration, we need to occupy our minds in our snow filled state. Cheers!

  • For myself, I didn’t see the point of making wine vinegar when, in 50+ years of drinking wine, I haven’t had any leftovers (whatever they are).
    More homemade ingredients would be interesting.

  • I love your home made recipes. I have done the sauerkraut. Yummy! Have you done yoghurt? Bring on more home recipes, please. Cheers Roz

  • Loved learning about wine vinegar, how do you make apple cider vinegar or pear vinegar or basil vinegar?
    Would also like to see international recipes….tapas, yucca root, need to enlarge my vegetables from carrots peas broccoli…
    Your site is my favorite!
    Also would love to have a non chocolate gluten free crisp cookie.

  • Great post Jules. I realize that I was not patient enough when trying to make vinegar from Manzanilla dry wine (although I used a “mere”). I am going to give it another try now.
    I really enjoy this type of recipe (especially when it is about avoiding food waste!)

  • I made cider vinegar last year with my home-made cider and was very happy with the result. The one small problem I have is that, to use it in pickles and chutneys as a preservative, it needs to be over 5% and I need a way of testing it to find the acid level. It has been suggested that I buy a litmus test kit. Anyone else have experience of this?

    • A litmus kit would be the easiest and most accurate. We made indicators at school with red cabbage but you’d still need something to calibrate it against, particularly if you are trying to get a safe pH for pickling. I don’t think they’re that expensive and would be easily available online.

  • Yup – really enjoy these handy DIY ideas. I enjoy creating things myself from scratch … and when they’re as low-effort as this, who wouldn’t want to? :-)

  • thank you for the recipe, up to now l have just frozen the left over wine to use in casseroles, but will certainly give this a go, as you don’t need any other ingredients and as l am retired, l have the time.

  • Great idea. My Italian grandmother made red wine vinegar on the back stoop, in San Francisco, every fall. She didn’t drink wine so instead she got crates of red grapes, crushed and strained them and let the concoction cure in the sun for a bit and then it went into the garage. It was the best.

    My grandmother used a mother, which looked like a jelly fish to a kid! My question for you is where do I buy or how do I make the mother. I now live south of London and grandma is long gone so I need your help with this!

    Thank you!

    • What a lovely story Toni!
      You can grow your own mother with time no need to start with one.. Just follow my method and grow your own!

  • Presumably if the wine isn’t pleasing enough to drink then you wouldn’t want to cook with it or make wine vinegar with it either!!

    • That depends Joanna…
      There are plenty of wines that I wouldn’t drink but would be happy to cook with or make vinegar from. It depends on what the fault is. I wouldn’t use a cork tainted wine but one that is oxidised already or just lacking in flavour would be fine.

  • Great tips! I’ve thought about making vinegar before but was put off by the whole mother thing. Forgetting about it for 6 months is right up my alley. Love these types of posts sprinkled in with meal recipes. Thanks for the great site.

  • Thank you for asking: Yes, I did enjoy this post. I am sure I would appreciate others like it as well, here and there amongst your yummy recipes.

  • Vinegar “recipe” was very interesting- quite different from what you find in your average cookbook. This is as basic cooking as it gets!

  • Love your homemade projects, love your recipes, love it all! Haven’t purchased hummus since trying your recipe. Trying yogurt next. Your blog, meal plans, and cooking school have changed my cooking and our eating forever. Thank you and keep all the goodness coming!

  • Thank you for this post about making vinegar from leftover wine! I too find the flavor of most commercial vinegars too harsh (or something) but I LOVE a few of the vinegars I have stumbled upon over the years. I am trying this recipe immediately!

  • Thank you for sharing the inspiration to make wine vinegar. My mother and father used to do it all the time and the flavors were smooth and lovely, but I never knew how they did it. Two bottles of left-over wine are waiting in my fridge – I’ll get started, and then patiently wait to enjoy my own vinegar.

  • I love the idea of making wine vinegar. The nice thing is that even though we travel a lot, it won’t hurt the vinegar process if we’re gone for 4 months at a time. Unfortunately, even though we don’t drink a lot of wine, or drink it fast, we’ve got these wonderful containers called Platypreserve that keep the wine very well for a couple of weeks. But if we don’t like the state of the wine, now I know that I can make vinegar from it. I love how simple it is to do, and am really glad you posted this.

  • Dear Jules,
    I have been “following you” since 2012! I just adore you & your little family. Thank you for being who you are…just yourself! Yes, it would be lovely to see more of the home made ingredients. I am going to start saving my leftover wine as of today.

  • Please keep posting how to make home made ingredients. I have enjoyed your recipes and this just adds to it.

  • Goodness me. I had to laugh as I commenced reading your email. On Saturday (Valentines Day) I sat with hubby to have a slice of chocolate cake with my glass of red wine. I only got part way through and tipped it out with the comment that I would make the remainder into rissotto. Blow that, I am now going to start my vinegar. Hubby doesn’t drink wine but he loves vinegar. A win, win. I love making things from scratch. Thankyou so much for your inspiration.

  • Your directions for making vinegar are the clearest I’ve come across. Yes! I’d really enjoy seeing more on homemade ingredients. Along with your incredible recipes, fantastic combination!

  • Thanks for a great tutorial to make wine vinegar. Now I know why my others didn’t tuen out so well.

  • This is a great way to play with bacteria. Starting a new batch every month or so keeps the good wine vinegar coming. Investing in a vinegar cask will allow you to make a continuous supply, and you will have enough to give away small bottles to all your friends who will be constantly dropping hints. Back in the mid-seventies, the guy who pressed cider out of our purloined apples had a 55 gallon vinegar barrel. In addition to many gallons of fresh cider, there was always a gallon of real, cloudy, organic vinegar in the back of the truck to help us suffer through the cold winters. Good stuff.

  • Love the way you made it sound so easy. Your post reminded me of a bottle of wine, opened and quite a lot left, which has been sitting in my fridge for, i think, more than a year now. Does it still make a good candidate for vinegar? Do i just follow the steps that you’ve shared? thanks.

  • I definitely love the home-made ingredient instructions as well as recipes! This post serendipitously arrived the same day that I opened a gagalicious bottle of wine. Undrinkably awful, and I do not like to waste my wine! So now I’ve got my own vinegar project going on…I love sherry vinegar as well and can’t wait to see what this does!

  • Great tips, thanks Jules! Did you explore the possibility of using it to make mustard too? Would love to see a recipe by you for homemade mustard. There are lots of such recipes on the net, but the advantage of Stonesoup is that you test everything and provide variations. With your practical spirit AND scientific background I am sure it will be both easy and healthy. Looking forward!

  • I can’t wait to get started! One question — have you ever experimented with adding a piece of wood (oak, for example) to the vinegar as it’s aging? I love vinegar aged in casks (Modena balsamic, for example) and wonder if this might work?

    • You could Bette… But usually the benefit of aging vinegar in casks is the slow transfer of air and oxygen into the vinegar which gives those lovely developed flavours… It also allows evaporation which concentrates everything down. They usually use old barrels so you’re not actually imparting much (if any) oak flavour.
      So I’d probably save up for a small old oak cask instead of adding wood to the bottle… But it might be worth playing with!

      • Wow! I love the idea of having my own (very small) oak cask. Off to the internet to explore. In the meantime, I have a glass jar w/ lid half full of red wine-to-vinegar — thank you for the inspiration!

  • Hi Jules; I enjoyed your vinegar instructions and enjoy any recipes for homemade. I make my own Creme Fraiche, Sauerkraut and sourdough bread. I quit sprouting seeds when I read about the dangers of food poisoning. Would appreciate any information you have on that.

    • Great Bill!
      I need to perfect my creme fraiche… Thx for the inspo.
      With sprouts if you’re doing them yourself you can control the environment and make sure everything is super clean so I think the risk of poisoning is low with home made sprouts… I use filtered water to be sure to be sure (as my Irishman would say).
      It’s much more risky in a commercial environment.

  • Hi, Jules.
    Thank you very much for the recipe (or “just a rough suggestion”). Actually, much more than this.
    It has been very useful to me.
    I’m sommelier in Argentina and I had already tried making wine vinegar twice, without much success.
    I’m going to try soon. Now with your valuable information.
    I’d really appreciate more posts like this one.


  • I really want to make this! I have a question though – does it give off a strong scent while fermenting? I have a fear of attracting flies. (Bugs fly into my old apartment fairly easily!)

  • Hi! I am making wine vinegar, my first batch. I have a lovely wine collection in a small wine room around the corner from the dark cabinet where I have my vinegar batch. They are maybe 15-20 feet apart. I run a whole-house fan frequently through that area for good air circulation and exchange ( away from both) but do I risk contaminating my bottled wine? If so, do you have a recommended proximity, or should I make the vinegar in the garage? It’s maybe 50 feet away, behind another door, but gets warm this time of year.

    I very much appreciate any guidance you have!

    • Hi Sarah!
      If I had a lovely wine collection, I wouldn’t risk keeping my vinegar in the same room. It’s a small risk because the wine is sealed but if they’re under cork, you never know. I’d keep the vinegar in the garage so it’s in a separate room. The warmth will actually help the acetic acid bacteria so will make your vinegar happen sooner.

      Every winery I ever worked for was fanatical about keeping vinegar away from the winery. I only worked for one place that made their own vinegar as well and they had a completely separate shed for the process well away from the winery.

      Hope that helps!

  • I had balsamic vinegar with brown bits added red wine that has been sitting open. Added a little sugar thinking it would help fermentation
    I will let you know if that worked or failed. Thinking balsamic is sweet. Wish me luck. Frank

    • Good for you Frank
      The sugar won’t help the vinegar fermentation as the acetic acid bacteria eat the alcohol not sugar… You might get some yeasts to eat the sugar BUT if the wine is high in alcohol they may not be able to grow. So it might stay very sweet… Not the end of the world!

  • I’ve had my wine opened to air in a five gallon carboy for about 2 months. It’s half full and I added about a half gallon of braggs vinegar to it. I haven’t noticed any visual changes. My basement is pretty cold and I am thinking maybe the bacteria isn’t that happy. Do you think it just needs time? Do you water down your wine?

  • my vinegars are ready. white wine,red wine,port and cabernet, sherry and a red question is: instead of titration can I bottle the vinegars by tasting and comparing and diluting with bottled water? thank you. I do very much appreciate your work. very informative .

  • I have a half gallon of wine my dad made in 1998. For quite awhile after he gave it to me (in a gallon jug with screw top), I’d hear it gently fizzing through the cap—I guess it hadn’t finished working. It’s been kept in the refrigerator for years and years. I can still taste some sweetness. It still has a kick, too. There’s no mold. I’m pretty sure the wine was made with apples or peaches.

    Now, it’s halfway to vinegar, and I’d like to continue that process and turn it all the way. Should I use the leave-it-alone method, the add-a-mother method, or is there another way, like maybe add sugar and/or yeast to get it fermenting again, since it didn’t completely finish doing that the first time?

    I don’t want to throw it away. He’s gone now, and this matters to me.

    • Sorry to hear about your Dad Lisa…
      If it was me I’d make vinegar following the recipe above.. Make sure you aerate it and leave somewhere warm then taste every now and then. Good luck! Jx

  • Thank you SO MUCH!! Since you were kind enough to answer my question (how to make wine vinegar), the least I can do is answer yours. Recipes for specific dishes and meals are wonderful. There’s always room for one more variation on beans and rice, meat and potatoes, and one more way to cook an egg. Those are always welcome, as are the quick and simple meals.
    However, it’s not quite as easy to find many kitchen basics: the wine vinegars, the sandwich spreads for when you’re too hungry to wait, all about duxelles, and when is the best time to pick/what are the best ways to cook, day lily buds. Sounds like you can do both, and I for one, greatly admire anyone who can. Whatever you do, Salud!

  • Hi
    Good experiment
    Is this method suitable for any kind of wine like rice wine ?

  • If you are adding red wine to your already two month old wine vinegar with the “mother” how long do you need to wait to tap vinegar from the spigot?

    • It really depends on how active your mother is and the temperature Frank – Just keep tasting until you are happy with the flavour.

  • I followed your instructions for making wine vinegar carefully. After 4 months, I was going to aerate it and found something large and solid growing in my vinegar! I did some research and determined it was the fermentation “mother”. Everything I read said to leave it, which I did. I went back at month 5 (3 bottles of wine were now reduced to less than 1 pint of liquid) and poured the vinegar off. The mother was even larger. Sadly, the vinegar tasted terrible – rotten and musty, and I threw it out. Do you have any thoughts on what happened and what I could have done differently, please? I live in the Arizona desert where it is very dry. I keep my house at 76 -78 degrees Fahrenheit. Thanks for your thought – I was looking forward to my vinegar. ?

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