Vinegar is a sour liquid made by fermenting alcohol. Acetic acid is the primary component of vinegar, giving it its sour taste.
People love vinegar, one of the most commonly used ingredients in the kitchen. It can be used for cooking, cleaning, and even as a natural remedy.
There are many different types of vinegar, each with its unique flavor and uses. What type of vinegar you should use will depend on what you’re using it for.
That’s why it’s helpful to understand all the different versions better to know what to grab and what to avoid for specific use cases.
In this article, we’ll be breaking down the various types of vinegar and explaining how best to use them.
Distilled White Vinegar
Distilled white vinegar is the most commonly used type of vinegar, and it’s also the one with the most versatile uses.
It’s made by fermenting distilled alcohol and has a harsh, acidic flavor. You can use it for cooking, cleaning, and as a natural remedy.
Foods that use distilled white vinegar include salad dressings, marinades, and vinaigrettes. Be careful not to use a lot, as the flavor can be overwhelming.
Cleaning uses for this vinegar include removing stains, cleaning windows, and disinfecting surfaces.
Natural vinegar remedies include treating colds, sore throats, and sinus infections.
No matter what you’re using it for, a little bit of distilled white vinegar can go a long way.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple juice is fermented to make apple cider vinegar. It has a strong tart flavor, and people often use it for cooking and as a natural remedy.
Like white vinegar above, foods that use apple cider vinegar include salad dressings, marinades, and vinaigrettes, but you can also use it for stews, store fries, slow-cooked pork, and much more.
Apple cider vinegar has also become a staple for numerous at-home treatments. People claim its effectiveness for teeth whitening, detoxing, and even healing poison ivy.
I love to use it on my hair, as I feel that it makes it feel softer and cleaner afterward.
Small studies have even found that ACV can aid in lowering blood sugar and support weight loss goals.
Red Wine Vinegar
Red wine vinegar is made from, you guessed it, red wine. It has a slightly sweet flavor with strong acidity.
People commonly use this vinegar in salad dressings and marinades, but people also tend to use it to deglaze a pan or make a quick sauce.
Regarding health benefits, red wine vinegar contains many antioxidants, which can help protect your cells from damage.
It’s also been shown to lower cholesterol, improve heart health, and boost heart health.
Like other kinds of vinegar, I have also found red wine vinegar helpful as a household cleaning agent.
Malt vinegar is created from fermented barley malt. It has a tart and malty flavor, making it a popular choice for salty fish and chips.
This type of vinegar can also be involved in other, more complex recipes. Common foods for malt vinegar include chutneys, relishes, coleslaw, aiolis, and bean salad.
People also sometimes use malt vinegar as a natural cleaning agent. You can use it to clean windows and mirrors, remove stains, and polish metal surfaces.
I like to avoid using it on white items to avoid the brown liquid causing more stains, but it’s perfect for pots, pans, and glass. It can even help remove rust. You might just have to get used to the more pungent smell!
Rice vinegar is made from fermented rice. This vinegar has a mild, sweet flavor and is used extensively in Asian cuisine.
Salads, marinades, and even desserts call for rice vinegar at times. Additionally, People commonly use it in sushi rice, as a pickling solution, and in soup.
Rice vinegar is also a key ingredient in many sauces, such as teriyaki sauce, sweet and sour sauce, and dynamite sauce. I particularly like using rice vinegar in my dipping sauces for dumplings.
There are many health benefits associated with rice vinegar. It’s shown to boost heart health, lower cholesterol, and improve digestion.
White Wine Vinegar
As its name suggests, white wine vinegar is made from white wine. Like red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar has a slightly sweet flavor with strong acidity.
In regards to food, white wine vinegar pairs exceptionally well with seafood dishes such as scallops, shrimp, and lobster. Many use it to make butter, vinaigrettes, marinades, and sauces like tartar sauce and mayonnaise.
Additionally, white wine vinegar can help clean a wide range of materials, including glass, metals, and soft fabrics.
I even like putting white wine vinegar in my washing machine every few months to disinfect the inside.
Balsamic vinegar is made from fermented grapes. This vinegar has a sweet and tangy flavor and is perfect as a salad dressing or marinade. It can also be used to deglaze a pan or make a quick sauce.
Balsamic vinegar is also a key ingredient in many sauces, such as tomato sauce, teriyaki sauce, sweet and sour sauce, and dynamite sauce.
The flavor of balsamic vinegar goes with many other flavors, making it so kitchen-friendly. You can pair it with sweet fruit, savory meat, or even use it in a dessert!
This versatility is why I particularly like creating a balsamic reduction that I then put in a small dish and add to a charcuterie board, as it tastes delicious with cheese.
Balsamic vinegar has many health benefits as well. It’s been shown to improve heart health, lower cholesterol, and boost the immune system.
Sherry vinegar is made from fermented sherry wine. It has a rich, complex flavor and is often used in dressings and marinades, like many other kinds of vinegar on this list.
The distinctive flavor of sherry vinegar also makes it a great choice for deglazing a pan. Simply pour it into the pan after cooking the meat to create a delicious sauce.
If you’re wondering which sauce to make, sherry vinegar is a key ingredient in many of them, such as bearnaise sauce, hollandaise, and bordelaise sauce.
I love to drizzle a bit of sherry vinegar on roasted food items like meat, vegetables, and fish, as it adds a great depth of flavor.
Finally, sherry vinegar helps with liver function, calcium absorption, and much more.
Champagne vinegar and white vinegar may seem similar on the surface, but since they are made from different types of wine, they have different flavor profiles.
Champagne Vinegar is made from champagne, so it has a bit of fruity, floral, and light components to its flavor.
The most common use case for champagne vinegar is salad dressings because it pairs so well with light greens. People use this vinegar to make a quick champagne vinaigrette or deglaze a pan.
Regarding cleaning, champagne vinegar, with 6% acidity instead of the 5% in distilled white vinegar, can be a bit of overkill for most cleaning purposes.
However, if you want to ensure something is particularly disinfected, like a toilet, you may prefer to use champagne vinegar.
Black vinegar is created from fermented rice, wheat, and millet. It has a strong, pungent flavor and is a staple in Asian cuisine.
The flavor of black vinegar goes well with many other flavors, making it a versatile ingredient.
Especially in Chinese dishes, black vinegar is used as a marinade, dipping sauce, and ingredient in braised dishes, such as braised fish.
Like many types of vinegar, I use black vinegar to deglaze a pan or make a quick sauce, especially if I’m cooking Chinese cuisine.
However, due to its dark color, I would avoid using black vinegar for cleaning purposes and stick with white or lighter vinegar options instead.
Cane vinegar is made from fermented sugarcane juice. It has a sweet but tart flavor and is often used in Asian cuisine, especially Filipino fare.
This mild vinegar is lovely over BBQ’d pork and fish, meat marinades, and even in salsa.
We all know that cane sugar can be very addictive and cause several health issues if overly consumed, but some claim that cane vinegar helps boost your immune and digestive systems.
And while it’s not as popular as some of the other types of vinegar on this list, it has a place in many kitchens.
Red Rice Vinegar
Like black vinegar, red rice vinegar is another staple in Chinese cuisine, especially in seafood dishes and dipping sauces.
The flavor of this vinegar is sweet, tart, and salty, as it’s made from red yeast rice. This ingredient also gives it a reddish color.
Red rice vinegar is thought to have some health benefits, as it’s traditionally been used in Chinese medicine to treat many ailments.
Also, like black rice, the strong coloring of this vinegar makes it less of a great option for cleaning but still effective on dark-colored materials.
I would recommend using distilled white vinegar or white wine vinegar instead, but if red rice vinegar is all you have, it will still be able to get the job done. Just be careful about creating further stains!
Yes, you read that right – beer vinegar! Beer is responsible for this vinegar, as its title suggests. It has a malty, slightly sweet flavor and can be used in many ways.
Some people like to use beer vinegar as a marinade for meats or to deglaze a pan. I’ve even seen it used in salad dressings and as an ingredient in coleslaw.
If you’re not a fan of beer’s flavor, don’t worry – the vinegar itself is not particularly “beery.”
However, if you are a fan of beer, you’ll love the unique flavor this vinegar adds to dishes.