The light, crisp, champagne vinegar, a fermentation product of sparkling wine, is ideal for dressings and marinades. Along with some basic facts about champagne vinegar, Tastessence presents information on champagne vinegar recipe, uses, and substitutes.
Did You Know?
Vinegar, flavored with herbs and spices, was used as a preservative and condiment by the Babylonians as early as 5,000 BCE. The soothing and healing properties of vinegar are even mentioned in the Bible.
As the name suggests, champagne vinegar is made from sparkling champagne. As you know, champagne produced outside Northern France is commonly known as sparkling wine. So, elsewhere, this vinegar is described as vinegar produced from sparkling wine. Champagnes are traditionally made from a mix of Pinot Noir (a red variety), Pinot Meunier (another red variety, closely related to Pinot Noir), and Chardonnay (a white variety). Very rarely, four more varieties, namely Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Petit Meslier, and Arbane are used to make champagnes. Thus, champagne vinegar is made only from the grapes mentioned above (mainly from Pinot Gris and Pinot Meunier grapes).
It is mild, less acidic than most other commonly used vinegar’s like white wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar. If you think that a strong vinegar is affecting the delicate flavor of a salad, you can replace it with champagne vinegar. It is tasty and makes a beautiful dressing. It can be a little bit expensive, but it is definitely better than distilled vinegar made from corn or petroleum. These days, handcrafted barrel-aged vinegar’s are easily available in markets all over the world.
How to Make Champagne Vinegar
Vinegar is produced through fermentation. It is an age-old method. Champagne vinegar is made from champagne by adding Acetobacter aceti (bacteria that can convert ethanol to acetic acid) to it. Usually, sediments and small amounts of champagne collected during the production process are used to make the vinegar. After adding the bacteria, sediments are stored in aerated tanks, where they slowly get converted into vinegar. Authentic vinegar is left in oak barrels for up to a year or two, for aging, and is then bottled. With leftover champagne, the vinegar can be made at home, but it will have a much lower acidity than the commercially-produced vinegar. Its taste and flavor would not match the expectations.
If you want to make champagne vinegar at home, let the champagne sit in an open, wide-mouthed mason jar for several weeks. Cover the jar with a cheesecloth so that dust or bugs do not get mixed with the liquid. The airborne and ubiquitous acetic acid bacteria would convert the champagne into vinegar. Once the vinegar is ready, you can use it for up to six months. Do not forget to keep it in covered bottles.
Basic Facts about Champagne Vinegar
➺ In France, champagne vinegar is exclusively produced in the Champagne region, where the specific grapes and champagnes are produced. The vinegar comes with an authentic champagne flavor. The hint of vanilla flavor it has, comes from the oak casks in which the wine is stored for aging. In the U.S., it is produced mainly in California.
➺ It is considered the ‘king of vinegar’s in France. Just like Champagne, the vinegar has millions of fans, not only in France but also in several other countries. It is often described as ‘liquid gold.’
➺ The production process for this vinegar is unique. It involves carefully monitored aging in small oak barrels.
➺ You can use champagne vinegar to cut calories in salads. As it is mild (less pungent), you can use more vinegar and less oil.
➺ The vinegar is light, pale in color, and has a delicate flavor. It is smooth and subtle. It is suitable for dressing delicately flavored salads and vegetables (like asparagus). It is available in most health food stores and quality departmental stores.
➺ Like all other vinegar’s, champagne vinegar also degrades quickly if exposed to heat, humidity, or bright light. So, it should be stored in a cool dark place (even in the departmental store). Once opened, it should last for about 6 months.
➺ You can make a vinaigrette from this liquid gold, or can buy one from the nearby store. There exist various types of salad dressings that contain champagne vinegar. Girard’s Light Champagne Salad Dressing contains 65% less fat than its regular Champagne Salad Dressing. So choose the ‘light’ versions.
How to Choose the Best Champagne Vinegar
A good-quality champagne vinegar is produced from effervescent, sparkling champagne, made from the specific grapes. It should have a pale gold or apricot orange color, and consistency like that of water. It should not be brown, green, or dark red like some other popular vinegar’s. It should be less acidic than white wine vinegar. Better-quality champagne vinegar’s are matured in wood for up to two years. They have a mild but complex, mellow flavor. Avoid the vinegar if the source grapes are not mentioned on its label.
Champagne Vinegar Substitute
You can use white wine vinegar in place of champagne vinegar. In fact, champagne vinegar substitute may vary according to the ingredients you are using to make a particular dish. As champagne vinegar is very mild, you cannot use strong vinegar in its place. Depending upon the ingredients, you can try using orange, tangerine, or lemon juice. Since champagne vinegar is sweeter than white wine vinegar, you may use sherry vinegar, and may even add 1 or 2 drops of sherry too. You can try organic, high-quality cider vinegar or rice wine vinegar for some recipes.
How to Use Champagne Vinegar
You can mix garlic (or shallots), Dijon mustard, honey, salt, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, and hot sauce with champagne vinegar to make champagne vinaigrette dressing, which can be added to various salads, roasted green beans, or tender greens (lettuce, dill, parsley, tarragon, chives, chervil, etc., can be combined together). The vinaigrette can be served on the side along with the salad. You may refrigerate both the salad and the vinaigrette for 24 hours before serving.
You may use the Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar as a marinade for chicken, fish, or shrimp. With melons, peaches, and berries, you can use it to make delicious fruit salad. Add 1 part vinegar to 2 parts olive oil, and your dressing is ready. You may use it to make a tangy fruit salsa of mango, red onion, serrano chile, and cilantro. The vinegar can add mellow flavor to your favorite salad and can make it more luscious. Here is one simple recipe for yummy potato salad. You can use champagne vinegar for braising pork dishes too.
Tasty Potato Salad with Champagne Vinegar
Time Required: 30 min.
➺ Fingerling potatoes – 1 pound
➺ Scallions – 2, sliced
➺ Shallot – 1, minced
➺ Canola oil – 3 tablespoons
➺ Champagne Vinegar – 2 tablespoons
➺ Dijon mustard – 2 teaspoons
➺ White pepper – as required
➺ Salt – as required
➺ Place the potatoes in a medium sauce pan, add water until they are covered, let the water boil. Simmer, let the water boil slowly at low temperature. The potatoes will be cooked within 15 minutes. They would become tender.
➺ Drain and peel the potatoes. Cut them into small edible pieces.
➺ Take a large bowl, mix the champagne vinegar and Dijon mustard, and whisk the mixture. Gradually add the oil and continue whisking until the mixture looks smooth.
➺ Add the scallions and the shallot.
➺ Sprinkle some pepper and salt over the salad and mix it well.
➺ Add potatoes and toss well.
➺ Serve it at room temperature.
You will agree that champagne vinegar can add zing to the plain potato salad.
Champagne vinegar that bears a similar taste to that of good quality champagne is sweet and tart enough to add a provoking flavor to salad dressing. Such designer salad when served with champagne can win the hearts of your guests.