Have you ever woken up after a great party (say a New Year’s Eve celebration) and realized that you were so wrapped up in the partying that you ended up with 4 half-empty bottles of champagne left standing around ? Or have you found a great deal on cheap sparkling wine but now realize that it’s been sitting in your cellar for 4 years and if you don’t start chugging it soon it’s going to start going bad? Or maybe you’re like us and get a lot of bottles of inexpensive sekt & prosecco that you just can’t drink without getting a major headache, but just can’t bear to pour down the drain either?
Well have no fear — you don’t need to feel bad about wasting all that bubbly ever again. You can turn it into something delicious and useful with very little effort. And it’s a great present for friends and family throughout the year. Just be warned — they may expect you to keep making this over and over again (which you will probably want to do anyway) so that you can keep refilling their vinegar bottles.
By the way, this same process will work for white and red wine…or even fruit wines. Basically anything with up to 12% alcohol can be fermented easily into vinegar. But stay away from things like dessert wines. And avoid using any wines that have corked or otherwise just aren’t smelling or tasting right.
To make champagne vinegar, you’re going to need a couple of things:
- A big container with lid and spigot (this can be glass a glass or ceramic crock, or a plastic barrel). These have several names, and could be referred to as a demi john or a pressure barrel. Here in Germany, we use a fermentation barrel like the one below. You’re not going to have a lot of pressure build up (like if you make wine or beer) so you basically only need something you can close up easily, but that also allows some oxygen into the barrel without bugs, and which can be drained without turning everything upside down and upsetting the sediment and vinegar mother inside.The size of the container you start with will dictate how much vinegar you can make at one time. We used a 30 liter fermentation barrel because we usually put in 6-10 bottles of cheap sparking wine at a time. But if you’re only going to be adding a cup or two at a time, a 1 gallon container will likely suffice. But you also want more space in the container than you intend to fill up so that you have a bit of space for stirring or shaking of the contents. This allows the bacteria to continue getting oxygen so that they can convert the alcohol into vinegar.
- Vinegar mother (Essig Mutter in German) — Basically a collection of live bacteria, you may be able to find enough at the bottom of a natural vinegar you have at home already. But it’s usually better to start with something you know is going to make good results.
- A warm space to store it in for the next few months
Making champagne vinegar is easy to make into an ongoing process, as long as you leave some of your vinegar mother behind. Otherwise, if you end up pulling it all out, you’ll just end up with spoiled champagne which smells and tastes awful. You don’t usually need much and can usually buy vinegar mother online, or from wine or beer supply stores.
How to Make Champagne Vinegar
- For every 2 cups of champagne you add to the vinegar container, add 1 cup of water. So if you add two bottles of champagne, fill up a bottle with water afterward and add that to the barrel.
- Add the vinegar mother to the barrel. A small bottle (ex 8oz) is sufficient for several bottles worth of champagne.
- Close up the barrel with the lid and stuff a wad of cotton into the hole in the top or cover the crock with cheesecloth and a rubber band to keep insects out. You don’t need a fancy fermentation bell for this.
- Sit the barrel or crock in a warm place, such as near a heater or in a window with good amounts of sunlight during the day. It should remain between 75-85°F (25-30°C) for the vinegar
- During the next few weeks, you will want to continue “feeding” the vinegar. So add another few cups of champagne to the barrel every 4-5 days for the first 2 weeks.
- You can also stir/swirl the barrel about once a week to make sure the vinegar mother is circulating through the champagne.
- Let the barrel/crock sit for at least 12 weeks and once the mixture begins to smell like vinegar, it’s complete.
- Funnel into clean bottles and enjoy! If you leave some vinegar and the mother behind, you can start the process over and over again.
Champagne Vinaigrette Recipe
- 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- Up to 1 teaspoon liquid sweetener, stevia powder or agave (depends on your vinegar flavors & desired sweetness)
- 1/4 teaspoon each fresh ground salt & pepper (or to taste)
Mix the ingredients together in a cup or small bowl with a whisk or fork. Save any extra covered in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Have you ever tried making vinegar?
Featured Posts from Last Week’s Natural Life Linky
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