Wine Vinegars

Winemakers make vinegar...intentionally

Most winemakers wouldn't brag about making vinegar.

That is unless the souring of grapes was intentional, as it is with Wölffer Estate's new aged rosé vinegar ($16 for 500ml; click here to buy).

The aged vinegar is the realization of a longtime goal for Wölffer winemaker Roman Roth, who adores vinegary, pickled treats thanks to his German heritage.

After being aged in barrels for more than six months, the vinegar emerges with a tangy acidity and underlying flavors of tropical fruit and grass. It is the ideal accompaniment to the briny meat of an East Coast oyster.

Roth is also not the only winemaker to prove there is more to making vinegar than losing track of a bottle of wine. Dr. Robert Gross of Cooper Mountain Vineyards in Oregon brews his barrel-aged balsamic ($60) with a blend of biodynamically grown Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The grapes' juices first undergo alcoholic fermentation, then aceto bacteria is added, which turns the juice to vinegar before it goes into the barrel. This Thanksgiving, the winery is releasing its 11-year-aged balsamic.

And B.R. Cohn Winery, in California's Sonoma Valley, is known for its varietal wine vinegars, including Cabernet, Chardonnay and Champagne varieties.

Once the vineyard stigma, now sour has power.