The SL Guide To Vinegar

The SL Guide To Vinegar

Back in the day there was white wine vinegar, malt vinegar and, if you were feeling really exotic, maybe a balsamic in your kitchen cupboard. Today, red wine, rice, apple cider and even black vinegars are all relied on by cooks in the know. Here, we break down which ones are best for what…


Anyone who’s used and loved Jamie Oliver’s 5 Ingredients cookbook will know how versatile red wine vinegar is. This vinegar is made by fermenting red wine, before straining and bottling it. Fermented predominantly from tempranillo grapes, Aspall Classic Red Wine Vinegar has the rioja region running through its veins, both in its peppery nose and its hints of oak. Best for dressings, sauces and marinades, we like to add a splash to puy lentils before serving to add a note of sharpness. 

SL Recommends: Aspall Classic Red Wine Vinegar, £1.75


White wine vinegar offers a pleasantly bitter, acidic taste, which makes it an ideal partner for salad dressings or as pickling liquor for preserving crunchy vegetables such as cucumber, carrots and onions. Many chefs choose to rub white wine vinegar into the skin of pork for a tender roasted meat, but we like to add it to a high-quality olive oil to make a simple vinaigrette.

SL Recommends: Sainsbury’s So Organic White Wine Vinegar, £1.60


Rice vinegar – also known as yonezu or komesu – is distilled from rice and has a mild, mellow taste. Mizkan is the number one rice vinegar in Japan and its producers recommend using it instead of malt, wine or cider vinegar in any of your usual recipes for a delicate tang of acidity. Alternatively, mix with soy sauce, mirin and sesame oil to create a flavoursome Asian salad dressing – perfect over roasted vegetables, salads and stir-fries.

SL Recommends: Mizkan Rice Vinegar, £3.95


Japanese black vinegar is brewed using only rice and water, following a similar process to sake. This umami-heavy vinegar makes a great dip for dumplings and gyoza, adds a hint of smoke to salad dressings and grilled meats and works well drizzled over roasted vegetables. In Japan, it’s common to dilute black vinegar and drink it as a tonic – just add one or two tablespoons of black vinegar to 250-300ml water, then add honey to taste.

SL Recommends: Rinkosan Black Vinegar, £7.95

BEST FOR FLAVOUR: Balsamic Vinegar

Belazu’s award-winning balsamic vinegar is made from only two ingredients – wine vinegar and grape must – and is made in Modena, the home of balsamic vinegar. Its dark, glossy colour and bold flavour adds a rich taste to almost any dressing or marinade – and a couple of teaspoons are an absolute must in gravy. Make the like the Italians and try drizzling this thick, sweet condiment over fresh strawberries. 

SL Recommends: Belazu 1.34 Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, £13.75

BEST FOR GUT HEALTH: Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar with the ‘mother’ has been used for centuries as a natural health remedy to fight coughs and colds. The mother is a cloudy substance that sits at the bottom of the bottle and is full of good bacteria along with acetic acid and natural protein, which is great for your health. Simply dilute 15ml of raw apple cider vinegar in 300ml of water as a daily health tonic. When it comes to cooking, apple cider vinegar is great in salad dressings, sauces and marinades.

SL Recommends: Willys ACV, £6.95

BEST FOR SUSHI: Brown Rice Vinegar

The full-bodied yet gentle character of this classic vinegar from Japan's southern island of Kyusyu makes it ideal for extra tartness. Its quality comes from using organic brown rice and the centuries-old method of slow maturation – and it’s a key ingredient in traditional sushi-making. Besides being a mainstay in pickling mixtures and marinades, it also perks up salad dressings, vegetable dishes, sauces, dips, stir-fries and spreads.

SL Recommends: Clearspring Organic Japanese Brown Rice VinegaR, £2.49

BEST FOR CHIPS: Malt Vinegar

This malt vinegar is brewed by the Artisan Malt Vinegar Company in Cornwall. The vinegar is slowly matured in oak for three months to ensure it remains unfiltered and unpasteurised. As well as being the ultimate accompaniment for fish and chips, this vinegar also adds a pleasant hit of acidity to salad dressings, stews and roasted vegetables.

SL Recommends: Artisan Malt Vinegar, £4.95

BEST FOR GRAVY: Sherry Vinegar

Sherry vinegar offers one of the most distinctive tastes in Spanish cooking and Valdespino, from one of Spain's finest sherry producers, is among the best. Made using the same method used for the production of fino sherries, the result is a rich, nutty and complex vinegar. Use a splash of sherry vinegar to deglaze roasting tins after cooking meat to create a cracking gravy, or in light salad dressings and marinades.

SL Recommends: Valdespino Sherry Vinegar DOP Reserva, £7.25

BEST FOR SWEET DISHES: Balsamic Vinegar Glaze

This sweet, rich syrup can be so much more than just dish decoration. Made with cooked grape must, balsamic vinegar glaze can be drizzled directly on a wide range of dishes. As well as being a decent accompaniment for roasted vegetables, cheese and pasta dishes, it also adds a lovely savoury note to fresh strawberries and vanilla ice-cream.

SL Recommends: Maille Balsamic Vinegar Glaze, £8.50

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