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​Can you substitute wine or balsamic vinegar for grape vinegar ?

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Can you substitute wine or balsamic vinegar for grape vinegar ?

Many recipes call for grape vinegar, but a good grape vinegar can be very hard to find, so can you substitute another vinegar for example wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar for grape vinegar ?

To answer this question bluntly, yes, in most cases you can, it will provide the acidity to the dish but at the expense of the unique flavour that a grape vinegar imparts.   To understand why a grape vinegar is used instead of a wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar, first we should understand a little bit about the process of making vinegar.

Simply put, vinegar is a fermented sugar or alcohol, resulting in the formation of acetic acid.

Broadly, vinegar can be categorised into two categories, traditional vinegars and commercial vinegars.

The easiest way to tell the difference between traditional vinegar and commercial vinegar is price. The traditional method of making vinegar is optimised for taste and quality and is far more resource intensive and takes a much longer time than the process of making commercial vinegar. Consequently it is far more expensive, and available in limited quantity. Commercial vinegar manufacture on the other hand is optimised for speed and cost, and is focused on quantity of output.

Nadal Traditional Spanish Grape Vinegar

A traditional vinegar is made by concentrating sugars in a must (the juice of a fruit such as grape for example), and then fermenting the must for several years in wooden vats, slowly decanting into new vats as it thickens, and selectively mixing with harvests of previous years. In this way a traditional vinegar can age 5, 8, or even 100 years until it makes its way to the last vat, at which time it is bottled for sale in very limited quantities.

A commercial vinegar is made in a similar way, however, the ageing process is drastically shortened with the addition of artificial accelerants and heat treatments, sometimes taking as little as a few days. It is rare for a commercial vinegar to be aged in wood, it would normally be aged in stainless steel vats to reduce cost and maximise output.

A grape vinegar is made from the juice of grapes, known as must, whereas a wine vinegar is made from wine. A traditional grape vinegar is arguably a better quality vinegar than a wine vinegar because the grapes are dedicated from the outset to making vinegar. A wine vinegar on the other hand is often made from surplus wine, or a wine that is considered too poor for sale, and is repurposed to make vinegar rather than be wasted.

A traditional grape vinegar has only 2 ingredients, grape must and grape vinegar from a previous harvest. No sulphites, no additives, no preservatives nothing else. A commercial vinegar on the other hand will certainly contain sulphites on the list of ingredients, and quite possibly an alphabet soup of preservatives, colourings, and stabilisers.

A balsamic vinegar is a grape vinegar that is made in specific region of Italy, and from specific varieties of grapes. It is important to differentiate between traditional balsamic vinegar, which is made in the traditional way and is of a very high quality, and a balsamic vinegar of Modena, which is a commercial vinegar made in large quantities and at low cost to satisfy demand. Again it is the cost and the ingredients list on the side of the bottle that will give it away.

Our Nadal traditional Spanish late harvest grape vinegar (pictured across) is a Spanish grape vinegar made in the traditional way using just grape must blended with grape vinegar to catalyse fermentation. The difference between our authentic Spanish Nadal traditional late harvest grape vinegar and a traditional balsamic vinegar is in the grape must. When making a traditional balsamic vinegar, the grape must is boiled to concentrate the sugars into a syrup. The must for our Nadal grape vinegar is made from late harvest grapes which have been left on the vine to ripen. The sugars are concentrated naturally on the vine rather than from boiling the must. The late harvest process results in a subtle but distinctive nuance to the complexity and flavour of the vinegar. Its smooth sweet taste is not edgy and biting, though the vinegar still registers an acidity level of 6% making it a high quality traditionally made vinegar, rivalling many of the great traditional balsamics.

Best of all it is sulphite and additive free, showing that it has been manufactured in the pure and traditional way with only nature intervening in the ageing process, resulting in a natural sweet vinegar, perfect for cooking or mixing into a dressing, or simply sprinkling over food to accentuate flavours.Impress your friends and family with your knowledge about vinegar and superb selection of ingredients. Beautifully packaged and uniquely smooth and delicious, Nadal authentic Spanish traditional late harvest grape vinegar is aged 5 years in the traditional way, and is available exclusively online with free shipping from Saffrondust.  



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