The Underrated Vinegar You Should Always Have In Your Pantry

Vinegar is one of those kitchen staples we don't always spend a lot of time thinking about, unless a recipe happens to call for a kind we don't have on hand. And yes, there are lots of varieties of vinegar with big differences among them. From the white vinegar you may slosh into the dishwasher before you run it, to the balsamic vinegar you drizzle over a caprese salad or sandwich, each vinegar shines when it's used the right way.

Fine Cooking explains that vinegar can be made from pretty much anything that contains sugar, like rice or grapes and other fruits. Yeast converts the sugars to alcohol, and then bacteria converts that alcohol to sour-tasting acetic acid, according to Serious Eats. The word "vinegar" comes from the French name for this sour liquid, "vinaigre," which translates as sour wine. All vinegar goes through this basic process, and the differences in the finished products are determined by what the sugar source is — like apples or grapes — and how the vinegar is handled, flavored, or aged. 

So what is this underrated vinegar you didn't know you needed?

Sherry vinegar is a must-have

Sherry vinegar hails from the Jerez region in the south of Spain, where it's made from the same grapes used to make sherry wines. There's even a Denominación de Origen for sherry vinegar, just as there is for wines all over Spain, that stipulates which grapes can be used, where the grapes can be grown, and how the wine or vinegar is aged (via Serious Eats). Sherry vinegar, made from any of the three sherry grapes – palomino, Pedro Ximinez, and moscatel (per Kitchn) — is aged in wooden casks using the solera system, in which younger vinegar is blended with older vinegar and bottled as needed, after the minimum aging requirement of six months is achieved (via Vinagre De Jerez).

What does sherry vinegar give you that other vinegars don't? The Kitchn spells it out, revealing the product is medium-bodied and lightly sweet with a slight nuttiness and complex flavor. 

Try using sherry vinegar in your next vinaigrette or in any dish, such as fish, soup, or vegetables, to which you want to add some lively flavors.