What is red wine vinegar?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question” What is red wine vinegar?” with an in-depth analysis of the methods of its making. Moreover, we are going to highlight its medicinal and health uses.

What is red wine vinegar?

Wine vinegar is derived from the acetous fermentation of wine. To ensure the quality of the vinegar, it is crucial to select wines with either a low alcohol content or those with high levels of volatile acidity. 

Spoiled wines should never be used for this purpose. In cases where wines with high alcohol content are chosen, they must be appropriately diluted with water. 

This is necessary because a high concentration of alcohol can inhibit the development of Acetobacters, which are essential for the fermentation process of wine vinegar.(1)

How is red wine vinegar made?

Red or rosé wines serve as suitable sources for producing red vinegar. During the acetification process, the transformation occurs gradually and ceases spontaneously when the acidity level reaches 7–8%. 

This slow conversion from wine to vinegar results in the formation of various compounds that contribute to the exceptional sensory qualities of the final product. 

Of particular importance are acetaldehyde and ethyl acetate, which are found in significantly higher amounts in high-quality vinegars compared to wine. 

Other notable substances include volatile alcohols, especially 3-methyl-1-butanol, and 3-hydroxy-2-butanone (or acetylmethylcarbinol).

To ensure a continuous supply of vinegar, a portion of the vinegar is withdrawn for use, and fresh wine is introduced for acetification. This production method leads to variations in the composition and character of the vinegar. 

Factors such as the cloudiness, acidity, and alcoholic content depend on the initial alcohol concentration in the wine and the nature of the fermentation process.

Most commercially available wine vinegar is produced through industrial processes, resulting in a standardized product. 

According to regulations, the total acidity of wine vinegar must not be lower than 6 grams of acetic acid per 100 milliliters, and residual ethanol may be present in quantities not exceeding 1.5% volume/volume.(1)


How to store red wine vinegar?

Red wine vinegar should be stored following similar guidelines as balsamic vinegar or rice vinegar to maintain its quality. 

It is recommended to store red wine vinegar in a cool, dark place, away from direct sunlight and heat sources like the stove. This storage method helps preserve its flavor and overall quality.

When selecting a storage container for red wine vinegar, opt for glass, stainless steel, wood, or food-grade plastic containers. 

It is advisable to avoid metal storage containers such as brass, copper, aluminum, or iron, as they can have a negative impact on the vinegar.

After opening a bottle of red wine vinegar, always ensure it is tightly closed when not in use to prevent excessive exposure to air. Freezing red wine vinegar is not necessary and should be avoided. 

The freezing and thawing process can weaken the vinegar’s acidity. However, if you still choose to freeze it, make sure to use a storage container that is not made of glass, as it can break under freezing temperatures.(2, 3)

What is red wine vinegar shelf life?

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

Over time, the quality of red wine vinegar may be compromised. This is primarily due to the introduction of air into the bottle each time it is opened, causing oxidation. If the red wine vinegar is stored in a plastic bottle, air can enter more easily.

Oxidation can result in changes in texture, taste, and smell of the vinegar, but it does not render it harmful to consume. Additionally, red wine vinegar possesses antibacterial properties, which help prevent bacterial contamination.(1-4)

What is red wine vinegar used for?

Red wine vinegar offers a delightful tanginess that varies depending on the type of wine used. 

It is widely utilized in marinades, salad dressings, and cooking meat and fish. The vinegar’s acidity serves to enhance the flavor of various dishes, providing a harmonious balance, especially in rich and savory preparations.

One of the remarkable properties of vinegar is its ability to modify food texture. Through the breakdown of protein structures, it effectively tenderizes meats and fish when used as a marinade. This tenderizing action can enhance the overall palatability of the dish.

In addition to its culinary uses, vinegar is also commonly employed in pickling. Acting as a natural preservative, vinegar aids in inhibiting bacterial growth. 

By immersing foods in a brine solution consisting of vinegar, water, salt, and sugar, the process of pickling not only extends the shelf life but also imparts a distinctive flavor to the preserved items.(5)

What are the health effects of consuming red wine vinegar?

Red wine vinegar offers a wide range of health benefits due to its high antioxidant activity, antimicrobial properties, antidiabetic effects, and therapeutic properties. These qualities contribute to the potential prevention of various diseases and promote overall well-being.

As a popular acidic seasoning, vinegar is known to improve digestive system function, stimulate appetite, exhibit antioxidant properties, aid in exhaustion recovery, lower lipid levels, and regulate blood pressure. 

Its diverse array of health benefits is further attributed to the presence of polyphenols, which have demonstrated the ability to prevent lipid peroxidation, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, inflammation, DNA damage, and cancer.

Moreover, vinegar has been found to reduce blood pressure by decreasing rennin activity upon ingestion of acetic acid. 

Rennin plays a vital role in the renin-angiotensin system, where blood pressure reduction can occur. Consuming acetic acid can lead to a decrease in plasma rennin activity and subsequent blood pressure reduction.

Traditionally, vinegars have been utilized as food preservatives in many cultures due to their remarkable ability to inhibit microbial growth. The organic acids, particularly acetic acid, present in vinegar can penetrate the cell membranes of microorganisms, resulting in bacterial cell death.

Vinegar also demonstrates potential in improving insulin sensitivity, contributing to its antidiabetic effects. Studies have shown that consuming vinegar along with sucrose can decrease the insulin response curve by 20%, leading to reduced blood glucose levels. 

Additionally, acetic acid in vinegar may hinder the complete digestion of complex carbohydrates by enhancing glucose uptake by tissues.

Furthermore, acetic acid has been reported to enhance lipid homeostasis and aid in lowering cholesterol levels in vivo. This property of vinegar can have a positive impact on cardiovascular health.

Vinegar has shown effectiveness in improving the symptoms of Alzheimer’s patients, though further research is needed to fully understand its potential benefits in this area.

Red wine vinegar provides a wealth of health benefits, ranging from antioxidant and antimicrobial properties to antidiabetic effects and therapeutic potential. (4-6)

Other FAQs about Vinegar that you may be interested in.

Can apple cider vinegar cure trichomoniasis?

Can apple cider vinegar hurt your eyes?

Can apple cider vinegar make you sick?


In this brief guide, we answered the question” What is red wine vinegar?” with an in-depth analysis of the methods of its making. Moreover, we highlighted its medicinal and health uses.


  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.