One of the beauties of red wine vinegar is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money. But you can. Katz Trio goes for about $10 (375 ml), and others cost more than double that. For a few dollars a bottle, though, you can enjoy, say, Pompeian red wine vinegar, which is made right in Baltimore.
Pompeian is the No. 1 selling brand in the gourmet wine vinegar segments in both red wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar, according to independent sales data provided by Richard Fryling, the company’s vice president for marketing.
He said product innovation took Pompeian to the top. Capitalizing on the antioxidant trend in 2005 and 2006, Pompeian began infusing its red wine vinegars with antioxidant-laden ingredients such as blueberry, acai and pomegranate.
Pompeian makes its red wine vinegar through a fermentation process that uses a unique blend of domestic wines and sherry imported from the Spanish region of Jerez.
According to the Vinegar Institute, a marketing group that represents the vinegar industry, there are no real standards of identity for vinegar worldwide. But there are eight varieties classified by the Food and Drug Administration for labeling purposes according to the vinegars’ starting ingredients and method of production: cider or apple vinegar; wine or grape vinegar; malt vinegar; sugar vinegar (which includes sugar syrup or molasses); spirit or distilled vinegar; blended vinegar made from spirit and cider vinegars; rice or rice wine vinegar; and balsamic.
You can find specialty vinegars in flavors you might never have considered: aloe vera, lemon, banana, cranberry. White distilled vinegar sells the most, according to the Vinegar Institute, but, then again, it’s used for cleaning as well as cooking.
At Vidalia, Buben says, balsamic is only used as a condiment, if customers request it. At Bistro Bis, vinaigrettes are mostly made with red wine vinegar because “it has the right acid level and a nice concentration of the right acidity and fruitness.”
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