The 6 most important types of vinegar: characteristics and properties

Do you know how vinegar is made? Do you use it to add flavor to your dishes? Did you know that there are up to 6 types of vinegar?

In this article we will explain the characteristics of each of them. In addition, we will explain some of the properties (and use) of vinegar, especially in the gastronomic field.

    What is vinegar?

    The term vinegar comes from the Latin “vinum acre”, which means “sour wine”. Thus, vinegar is a liquid substance with a bitter taste; it is obtained by acetic alcohol fermentation (Through certain bacteria called “Mycoderma aceti”). On the other hand, it contains between 3 and 5% acetic acid in water.

    Specifically, vinegar is a liquid solution (in some cases a little thicker) of acetic acid obtained by a fermentation process. In addition, salts and extracts of other materials are added to this solution.

    As for its origin, the first vinegar produced and popularized is wine vinegar. Its history is in fact very old, and already the sacred books mentioned vinegar (and wine).


    To obtain it, vinegar goes through two fermentation processes: the first is alcoholic fermentation (the action of yeasts transforms sugar into alcohol); the second is the acetic process, in which a large group of bacteria (especially aceto-bacteria) is involved. These bacteria combine oxygen and alcohol to produce acetic acid.

    Types of vinegar

    There are different types of vinegar, depending on their ingredients and characteristics. The most consumed (or most famous) vinegar is distilled white vinegar. The classification that we will present of the different types of vinegar is based on two parameters: the methods of elaboration of this one and the ingredient (s) used for its manufacture.

    1. Wine vinegar

    Wine vinegar is obtained by fermentation (exclusively). It is the most used vinegar in the gastronomy sector, especially in Europe (Especially Italy and France).

    In turn, wine vinegar can be from different types of wine:

    1.1. Red wine vinegar

    This type of vinegar is particularly indicated to accompany red meats, because it enhances their flavor.

    1.2. white wine vinegar

    This second type of vinegar is a good option for cooking some sauces, Like hollandaise sauce or mayonnaise.

    1.3. Other types of wine vinegar

    Other types of vinegar made from wine, and perhaps less known, although very original, are: vinegar in herbs, fruits (for example strawberries, raspberries …) or wine vinegar in garlic.

      2. Cider or apple cider vinegar

      Apple cider vinegar or apple cider vinegar is a milder vinegar; thus, its flavor is preferred by many. It is made either by the pulp of the apple or by its juice.

      How is it done? The sugar in the fruit is first converted to alcohol and then to acetic acid. Another option is to get this vinegar through cider or a fermented apple. Apple cider vinegar or apple cider is excellent for adding to salads, white meats and fish.

      3. Distilled white vinegar

      Distilled white vinegar, as we have already said, is one of the most widely used and consumed types of vinegar. It is obtained by distillation, just before the alcohol is transformed into acetic acid..

      The strong taste of distilled white vinegar is explained by the fact that its production process makes its acetic acid content very high. Thus, this type of vinegar is obtained from corn, molasses or sugar cane. On the other hand, it is widely used to make packaged sauces, for example.

      4. Sherry vinegar

      The next type of vinegar is sherry vinegar. More precisely, is produced by submerged fermentation with wines of Designation of Origin of Sherry. In addition, they make it in oak jars of 500 liters. The system they use is called “Criaderas Soleres”.

      This type of vinegar is perfect for salads; in addition, it is a good option to season almost any dish of traditional Mediterranean cuisine. It is also one of the ingredients of gazpacho.

      In turn, sherry vinegar can be of two types:

      4.1. Sherry vinegar “reserve”

      The first type is “Reserve” Sherry Vinegar; its aging period in bundles must be at least 2 years.

      4.2. “Solera” Sherry Vinegar

      The second type is “Solera” sherry vinegar; it is a type of vinegar which must have gone through an aging period of at least 6 months in barrels.

      5. Vinegar of Modena

      The next of the types of vinegar is that of Modena, with a slightly thicker consistency (It is not as liquid as the previous ones), and dark brown in color. Modena vinegar is mostly used to add flavor to salads (as a dressing). Its origin is Italian and is made with fresh grape must.

      As for its development, the wort is boiled to concentrate the flavor and sugar content, then left to age between 6 and 12 years old.

      On the other hand, this type of vinegar is also used to make salad dressings or other types of sauces, like yogurt sauce. To combine with food / dishes, Modena vinegar is ideal for oily fish (such as tuna or salmon).

      We must, however, keep in mind that the Modena vinegars that are usually sold in the supermarket are not original, but have added significant amounts of sugar.

      6. Rice vinegar

      Rice vinegar has a fairly mild taste, although it does have a sour touch. It is colored between white and pale gold. It is extracted from the fermentation of rice.

      This type of vinegar is particularly used in Japanese cuisine, to season dishes such as sushi.

      Properties and uses of vinegar

      Now that we have seen the 6 types of vinegar that exist (or their 6 main groups), let’s take a look at some of the properties of vinegar (and some of its uses).

      1. Natural preservative

      Vinegar has the property of store food naturally; that is why in the food industry it is used for this. In addition, it lowers the pH of food, preventing bacteria from growing.

      2. Ideal for marinating

      the vinegar it helps soften meats by breaking down their fiber and protein. This is why it can be a good marinade.

      3. Antibacterial agent

      On the other hand, vinegar can also be used as an antibacterial agent; this is so because it helps to eliminate certain bacteria which could be harmful to our health. For example, it prevents the proliferation of fungi, neutralizes unpleasant odors and disinfects.

      4. Highlight the taste

      Another property of vinegar is that it enhances the taste of many dishes and / or foods (for example salads, meats, sauces …). It is a good choice because brings a touch of acidity to dishes.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Cano, MA (2015). Vinegar: properties and types. Castellón, since 1907. [Consultado el 31 de octubre del 2019]
      • Romero, CD and De la Torre, AH. (1993). Physico-chemical characterization of different types of vinegar. I: Acidity, dry extract and ash. Food: Journal of Food Technology and Hygiene, 245: 99-104.
      • Sanitary, SRT. (2009). The vinegar. Faculty of Pharmacy Department of Nutrition and Bromatology.

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