I have a bottle that has been standing opened in room temperature for a while, and has become a bit sour.

How do I make it into vinegar?

How long time does it take?

Any precautions/instructions I should follow?

Will the process affect the alcohol level?


1 Answer 1


First of all, let us consider what can be turned into vinegar.

What you can turn into vinegar?

Anything with sugar or starch can be fermented by yeast into alcohol, which can then be converted into acetic acid by acetobacter bacteria. The acidity of commercially made vinegar is at least 4 percent but not more than 7 percent, according to U.S. Food and Drug Administration standards. Vinegar has an almost indefinite shelf life, though some color changes and sedimentation (in unfiltered, unpasteurized bottlings) may occur. Some varieties are aged or reduced, which changes the flavor and character.

Wine based

  • Banyuls
  • Red wine, including varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon
  • White wine, including varietals such as Champagne
  • Sherry

For starters you must choose the wine (red or white) you desire to turn into vinegar, but do mix the two together. The more aromatic the wine is, the more flavorful the vinegar will be.

There are many recipes to make vinegar on the web, so I can only give a small sampling here. For the most part the techniques are somewhat similar.

Mixing Wine Vinegar

1. Choose your wine. You can combine a few glasses of leftover wine or buy a fresh bottle to use. Don’t mix red and white wine together. Instead, either make white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar. Red wine vinegar is great for bold salad dressings and deglazing cooking pans. White wine vinegar is lovely in rich sauces and tart vinaigrettes.

2. Find a “Mother of Vinegar”. This commercially available product is also called a vinegar starter or a mother. The bacteria in a mother creates vinegar when combined with wine, cider, or fresh fruit juice. You don’t have to use a mother when making wine vinegar. However, some people find that using a mother helps create wine vinegar faster.

3. Choose a live vinegar. If you don’t want to purchase a mother, use a live vinegar instead. Look for vinegars that are advertised as “unpasteurized,” “unfiltered,” and “active”. For example, Braggs organic apple cider vinegar is a live vinegar.

4. Mix the wine and starter together. Use a large, wide-mouthed jar or bowl made of nonreactive materials such as glass or ceramics.[4] Stir everything together well. This will evenly distribute the bacteria throughout the wine and aerate the mixture.

  • If you’re using a live vinegar, add 3 tablespoons of vinegar for every cup of wine.
    • If you’re using a mother, follow the instructions on the package. Otherwise, add the mother to the wine and gently mix it in.

5.Cover the jar with a cheesecloth. The cheesecloth will block out the light while letting air circulate through the mixture.[6] First, drape the cheesecloth loosely over the top of the jar. Next, secure the cheesecloth in place with a rubber band.

Fermenting Wine Vinegar

1. Set the container in a cool, dark place. Place your cheesecloth-covered container in a dark corner of a pantry or under your sink. Choose a spot that won’t get much light or heat. The vinegar will need to sit for two to three months while it ferments.

  • The optimal temperature range is 75 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 29 degrees Celsius.) If you store your vinegar outside of this range, the process will take longer.

2. Monitor your vinegar. After three weeks of fermentation, examine the vinegar for a gelatinous film. This is the new mother. Try not to disturb this layer or you’ll risk agitating the bacteria that creates wine vinegar.

3. Taste the vinegar for doneness. Begin tasting the wine vinegar periodically after one month of fermentation. To do so, gently push aside the mother with a spoon and gather a small sample of vinegar. You’re looking for a brightly tart, acidic taste.

4. Harvest the vinegar. Once your vinegar tastes ready, it’s time to harvest it. First, use a spoon to push the mother down into the vinegar. Next, pour away the apple cider into a large bowl. While you pour, use the spoon to block the mother and keep it in the jar.

5. Save the mother to use in new batch. Add more wine to the jar with the mother in it. Replace the cheesecloth and ferment the vinegar for another two to three months. Once the mother is used up, it will sink to the bottom and another mother will form on the vinegar.

  • Once the mother sinks all the way to the bottom, you can scoop it out and throw it away.
  • You can use this method to create wine vinegar indefinitely.

Storing Your Vinegar

1. Choose a secondary storage container. Choose a heat-proof container that’s made of a nonreactive ceramic or glass material. The container should also come with an airtight lid or cork. For example, purchase a swing-top or sealable wine bottle. Some other examples of storage containers include:

  • Mason jars with lids
    • An old empty vinegar container
    • A glass beaker with a cork

2. Sterilize your storage container. Wash the container with hot water and a strong dish soap. Next, bring a pot of water to boil on your stove. Submerge the container in boiling water for ten minutes to sterilize it. Allow it to air dry completely.

Pour the vinegar into your storage container. Use a funnel to siphon the vinegar from the bowl to your storage container. Depending on how much vinegar you make, you may need two or three containers to collect everything. After pouring the vinegar, tightly secure the lid of the storage container.

  • Store your wine vinegar in a cool, dark place such as your pantry for up to one year.

Source: How to Make Wine Vinegar (wikiHow)

And by the way: Bon Appetite!

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