There is a vinegar made to complement every type of food; some are light or fruity while others are bold and rich. Seasoned and flavored vinegars are particularly useful for adding to salads and other fresh dishes.

See also balsamic, cider, red wine, rice wine and white vinegars.

The word vinegar is derived from a combination of French words: “vin” for wine and “aigre,” which means sour. Most types of vinegar can perform as a tenderizer and preservative as well as a balancing agent between sweet and salty foods.

Not all vinegars originate with fermented wine. Some are made from fruits, grains, rice, and other alcohols.


There are many types of vinegar made around the world. The most common and readily available are:

  • Red Wine – use with colorful and hearty foods.
  • White Wine – light and perfect for vinaigrette or marinade.
  • Balsamic – add to salads.
  • Rice Wine – use in stir-frying and at the table.
  • Cider – usually made from apples, but can be from a number of other fruits. Use in sauces, dressings, and marinades.
  • Malt – made from barley. Used for pickling and in marinades and sauces.
  • Sugar Cane – made from molasses or syrup. Often used in Asian dishes and in salads or for deglazing.
  • White – this is the distilled version and should not be used in most recipes, although it’s a good pickling and canning product.

Fruity and herbal vinegars are found in gourmet and health food stores.

Buying Tips

Higher priced vinegars will usually originate from a better quality base, especially wine.

Rice wine vinegar is the mildest.

Storage Tips

Most cooking vinegars will not last as long as white vinegar. These should be kept in a dark and cool spot.

Red wine vinegars may become hazy or show sediment. This does not affect the quality or flavor.