Does white wine vinegar have alcohol in it?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “does white wine vinegar have alcohol in it” with an in-depth analysis of whether or not alcohol is present in the formulation of the white vinegar. Moreover, we are going to discuss the difference between the white and the red wine vinegar along with the tips to store white vinegar efficiently.

The countries with the highest volumes of vinegar consumption in 2018 were Germany (232 million liters), France (183 million liters) and Italy (119 million liters), together accounting for 49% of total consumption. These countries were followed by Spain, the United Kingdom, Poland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Romania, the Czech Republic, Portugal and Austria, which together accounted for a further 41% (1).

So without much ado, let’s dive in and figure out more about it.

Does white wine vinegar have alcohol in it?

While white vinegar preparation does start off with alcohol, the final fermented product may only contain traces of it. This does mean that vinegar is impure. With this being said, vinegar does not fall in the category of an alcoholic product.

So the white vinegar is made from the fermentation of the alcohol (ethanol). Acetobacter changes the alcohol present in the wine to form acetic acid. This acetic acid is the ingredient that is responsible for the characteristic sharp smell and taste of vinegar.

So truly speaking there can be some traces of alcohol in the white wine vinegar. So there can be 0.1% to 2% of ethanol or alcohol in the white wine vinegar. However, FAO/WHO defines vinegar as any liquid, fit for human consumption, produced exclusively from suitable products containing starch and/or sugars by the process of double fermentation, first alcoholic and then acetous. The residual ethanol content must be less than 0.5% in wine vinegar and less than 1% in other vinegars (2). Thus we can make a rough estimate that a tbsp of white wine vinegar would have a drop of ethanol (alcohol) in it.

Apart from the white wine vinegar, traces of ethanol and other volatile compounds can also be present in red wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar. Jerez vinegar (a type of sherry vinegar) may contain up to 3% alcohol in its composition.

So if you are too concerned about the presence of ethanol in the vinegar, then you can substitute your white wine vinegar with some citric fruit juice like lemon or lime juice during cooking. 

Does vinegar contain alcohol? 

Commercially sold vinegar is produced by the fermentation of ethanol (grain alcohol), therefore it can contain minute quantities of alcohol. Vinegar is primarily acetic acid which can not make you drunk and is dangerous in high quantities.

Does red wine vinegar have alcohol? 

Vine vinegars do contain some amount of alcohol. Red wine vinegar is made by the fermentation of red grapes, hence the name red wine vinegar. Its vinegar taste comes from the acetic acid present in it besides other chemicals. Red wine vinegars were rich in tartaric, malic and lactic acids. According to studies, wine vinegars contain between 0.05 and 0.3% residual vinegar (2).

What is white wine vinegar?

So white wine vinegar is the fermented product of the white wine and is formed when the Acetobacter bacteria ferments the white wine. It has a slight touch of fruity flavor along with the characteristic tangy flavor of vinegar. Moreover, it should be kept in mind that the white wine vinegar we use in our houses is not the concentrated one, but it is formed by diluting the acetic acid that was originally prepared. 

As well as acetic acid and ethanol, vinegar contains secondary constituents which play an important role with regard to its smell, taste and preservative qualities. In wine vinegars the following substances were identified: gallic acid, p-OH-benzaldehyde, caffeic acid, vanillic acid, syringic acid, p-coumaric acid, anisaldehyde, epicatechin, sinapic acid and salicylaldehyde (2).

What is the difference between white wine and red wine vinegar?

Wine vinegar is made from red or white wine and is the most commonly used vinegar in Mediterranean countries and Central Europe. As with wine, there is a considerable range in quality. Better quality wine vinegars are matured in wood for up to two years and exhibit a complex, mellow flavor. Wine vinegar tends to have a lower acidity than that of white or cider vinegars (2). 

So there are two main differences between white wine vinegar and red wine vinegar. As the name implies the white wine vinegar is formed by the fermentation of the white wine while the red wine vinegar is formed by the fermentation of the red wine.

The red wine vinegar imparts slight pink hues in the items where you are adding it while the white wine vinegar does not impart any color to the things in which it is added. 

Other FAQs about Vinegar which you may be interested in.

Does vinegar freeze in winter?

What does it mean when you crave vinegar?

How can you use white wine vinegar?

You can use white wine vinegar in a variety of ways. 

  1. It can be used along with the distilled white vinegar for the pickling of fruits and vegetables like radishes and red onion. 
  2. Moreover, the white wine vinegar can also be used to make the vinaigrette. All you gotta do is to mix a tbsp of white wine vinegar (you can change the quantity of the white wine vinegar according to how tangy you want your vinaigrette to be) with 2-3 tbsp of the extra virgin olive oil. Add a bit of salt and ground black pepper in it and use it as a dressing over your salads or sandwiches.
  3. Moreover, you can also use white wine vinegar to do the braising of meat so that you will get juicy and tender meat even after cooking it.

You can read more about braising here.

How to store white wine vinegar?

  1. White wine vinegar is acidic, therefore it should be kept in mind never to store it in a metallic bottle like those made of brass, tin, or steel or the vinegar will react with them and have a corrosive impact on these metallic bottles. It is better to store it in a bottle or container made up of glass or plastic with glass being the safest choice.
  2. Like all other vinegar variants, white wine vinegar should be kept in a cold, dry, and dark place away from direct sunlight and heat (3,4).
  3. Like all foodstuffs, vinegar can be preserved by placing it in the refrigerator but even if chemical reactions are less rapid at lower temperatures, the process of oxidation occurs and oxygen promotes a series of chemical and enzymatic reactions that modify the vinegar (3).
  4. You should always close the lid of the bottle tightly once it has been opened. Never leave the bottle of white wine vinegar without the lid as the air will enter your vinegar bottle and will degrade the flavor of the white wine vinegar by starting the oxidation reactions. Moreover, the compounds responsible for the flavor and aroma of the white wine vinegar are often volatile in nature, therefore they can evaporate if you do not close the lid of the bottle appropriately.


In this brief guide, we answered the question “does white wine vinegar have alcohol in it” with an in-depth analysis of whether or not alcohol is present in the formulation of the white vinegar. Moreover, we discussed the difference between the white and the red wine vinegar along with the tips to store white vinegar efficiently.


  1. Boistean, Alina. Aspects of vinegars production and marketing in Moldova. J Soc Sci, 2021, 2, 13.
  2. Solieri, Lisa, and Paolo Giudici. Vinegars of the World. Vinegars of the World. Springer, Milano, 2009. 1-16.  
  3. Casale, Monica, et al. Study of the aging and oxidation processes of vinegar samples from different origins during storage by near-infrared spectroscopy. Analyt Chim Acta, 2006, 557, 360-366.
  4. Geiger,M. Vinegar shelf life and safety. 2021. Iowa State University.