Does red wine vinegar contain alcohol?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question “Does red wine vinegar contain alcohol?” and tell you to store it. We will discuss whether red wine vinegar goes bad or not. We will also mention some of the uses of red wine vinegar and tell you if red wine vinegar is good for you.

Does red wine vinegar contain alcohol?

Yes, red wine vinegar contains alcohol. Most wine vinegar is produced by industrial processes and, as such, is a standardized industrial product.

According to regulations, its total acidity must not be less than 6 g of acetic acid per 100 ml and residual ethanol may be present in quantities not exceeding 1.5% v/v.

Wine vinegar is obtained from acetous fermentation of wine, the wines used for acetification are those with too low an alcohol content (7–9% v/v) or those in which volatile acidity is too high. 

Spoilt wines cannot be used. If wines with a high alcohol content are to be used, they need to be appropriately diluted with water, since a high concentration of alcohol will inhibit the development of the Acetobacters. 

Red or rose´ wines can be used to produce red vinegar. Acetification is slow and stops spontaneously when acidity reaches 7–8%. The slow transformation of wine into vinegar leads to the formation of many substances which impart excellent organoleptic qualities to the end product. 

The most important of these are acetaldehyde and ethyl acetate, which in topgrade vinegars are present in quantities far greater than those of wine, volatile alcohols, particularly 3-methyl-1-butanol, and 3-hydroxy-2 butanone (or acetylmethylcarbinol).

The vinegar is then partly withdrawn for use and replaced with fresh wine to be acetified. Vinegar produced in this way is bound to vary in composition and character: it may be more or less cloudy and its acidity may vary according to the degree of alcohol in the wine and the nature of the fermentation. (1)

How to store red wine vinegar?

Red wine vinegar should be stored in a manner similar to balsamic vinegar or rice vinegar in order to maintain its quality. Store red wine vinegar in a cool, dark place, away from direct sunlight and heat sources like the stove. This will help preserve its flavor and quality.

Use glass, stainless steel, wood, or food-grade plastic containers to store red wine vinegar. Avoid using metal storage containers such as brass, copper, aluminum, or iron, as they can negatively affect the vinegar.

After opening the bottle of red wine vinegar, always make sure to tightly close it when not in use. Freezing red wine vinegar is not necessary and should be avoided. 

Freezing temperatures can weaken the acidity of the vinegar due to the freeze and thaw cycle. However, if you choose to freeze it regardless, ensure that the storage container is not made of glass, as it can break at freezing temperatures.(2, 3)

Does red wine vinegar go bad?

Commercially available red wine vinegar generally has a lengthy shelf life and does not come with an expiration date, unless it has been contaminated. It maintains its optimal quality for approximately 2-3 years and remains safe for consumption even beyond that timeframe.

Red wine vinegar quality may get compromised over time. This is because every time you open the bottle, air enters and it causes oxidation. If you have stored your red wine vinegar in a plastic bottle then air can enter as well.

Oxidation will lead to changes in texture, taste and smell but it would not be harmful to consume.Since it also has antibacterial properties, bacteria can not contaminate it. (1-4)

What is red wine vinegar used for?

Red wine vinegar offers a tangy flavor that varies based on the wine used. It is commonly used in marinades, salad dressings, and cooking meat and fish. The acidity of vinegar enhances the taste of food, providing balance to rich dishes.

Vinegar has the ability to alter food texture. It breaks down protein structures, making it effective for tenderizing meats and fish as a marinade. 

Pickling is another application of vinegar, as it acts as a preservative by killing bacteria. Foods can be pickled by soaking them in a brine solution consisting of vinegar, water, salt, and sugar, resulting in both preservation and flavor enhancement. (5)

What are the health effects of consuming red wine vinegar?

 Red wine vinegar provides a lot of health benefits that are listed below.

Lowers the blood sugar levels

Red wine vinegar can help lower blood sugar levels by slowing down the digestion of carbohydrates. This is particularly beneficial for diabetics. It can also aid in weight loss.

Keeps the skin healthy

Vinegar’s main component is acetic acid which has antibacterial properties so it can help fight off skin infections. Vinegar also contains antioxidants which help fight off free radicals which cause oxidative stress.

However you should not put vinegar on your skin directly as it is very acidic and can be harsh. So, dilute the vinegar before applying it to your skin and do a patch test first.

You can also add it with other products to your bath. It may also help with minor sunburn.

Help you lose weight

Red wine vinegar makes you feel full for a longer period of time by increasing the amount of time food stays in your stomach. This reduces hunger and in turn helps you lose weight.

Red wine vinegar can also help you reduce weight by burning fat and reducing its storage.

Prevents chronic diseases

Red wine vinegar can help prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes by reducing the oxidative stress in your body as it contains a lot of antioxidants.

Promotes a healthy heart

Acetic acid and resveratrol help lower blood cholesterol levels which in turn lead to a healthy cardiovascular system. It also lowers the blood pressure and lowers the risk of heart diseases.

Polyphenols found in vinegar also lower the blood pressure and improve the circulation in the body. (4-6)

Other FAQs about Wine that you may be interested in.

What can I substitute for red wine?

What has more alcohol, wine or beer?

How to counteract too much red wine in the sauce?

How to counteract too much white wine vinegar?


In this brief guide, we answered the question “Does red wine vinegar contain alcohol?” and told you to store it. We discussed whether red wine vinegar goes bad or not. We also mentioned some of the uses of red wine vinegar and told you if red wine vinegar is good for you.


  1. M. Plessi, VINEGAR, Encyclopedia of Food Sciences and Nutrition (Second Edition), Academic Press, 5996-6004, 2003. 
  2. Marlene Geiger, Vinegar Shelf Life and Safety, Iowa State University, Answer Line, 2021
  3. Minjeong Kang, Jung-Heun Ha, Youngseung Lee, Physicochemical properties, antioxidant activities and sensory characteristics of commercial gape vinegars during long-term storage, Food Sci. Technol, Campinas, 40(4): 909-916, 2020.
  4. Chin Wai Ho, et al, Varieties, production, composition and health benefits of vinegars: A review, Food Chemistry, 221, 2017
  5. Harvard. The Nutrition Source. Vinegar, Harvard T. H. Chan. School of Public Health 677 Huntington Avenue, 2019.
  6. Lauren Panoff, 6 Surprising Benefits of Red Wine Vinegar, Healthline Media LLC. 2020.