Giving the gift of vinegar
November 10, 2020 1:48 PM   Subscribe

My girlfriend loves schmancy vinegars, so I'd like to get her some as a gift. Have any favorites? Interested in all recommendations, regardless of price range. Prefer items that can be purchased online and received in the U.S. Thanks!
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell to Shopping (29 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Vinegar is so easy to DIY, you can make it by mistake! Get her a DIY book on making vinegar and a bunch of persimmons.

(Looks like you're in the northern hemisphere, they should be in season.)
posted by aniola at 1:52 PM on November 10, 2020

well you cant currently buy it online because they appear to be out of stock, but Rancho Gordo pineapple vinegar is pretty awesome and not too run of the mill, maybe try to find somewhere that has it in stock?
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 2:07 PM on November 10, 2020 [2 favorites]

If money is no object, you can break the bank on the best balsamic vinegar. The name "balsamic" is being attached to all sorts of vinegars, but the real traditional thing, from Modena, Italy, is made from reduced grape must and aged for years in successive barrels of different types of wood. It is thick, rich, complex. Not to be doused on just anything! A classic use is a few drops on a shard of parmesan cheese or a piece of mortadella as part of an appetizer, or a drizzle on the very best strawberries or even on vanilla gelato! There is a DOP for two areas where the traditional balsamic is produced, so you'll know you're getting the real thing. (DOP is Denominazione di Origine Protetta or Protected Designation of Origin.) You'll also know by the price. For 100 ml (about 3.3 ounces) of the extra special balsamic DOP, aged 25 years, (the normal DOP stuff is only aged 12 years!) you'll spend about $120 or more. For people who are interested in experiencing the very best in food, the money is worth it.
posted by tmdonahue at 2:10 PM on November 10, 2020 [6 favorites]

This 18 year balsamic from a local shop is one of my favorite things in the world. You can drink the stuff it's so delicious but it's amazing on or in anything.
posted by biscotti at 2:21 PM on November 10, 2020 [4 favorites]

These infused balsamic vinegars are the best I've tried. So, so good. They sound dessertish, but try them on an avocado, or just a bit as a salad dressing where there is a sweet element in the salad, like those salads where there is goat cheese and craisins. YUM.

My favorites are pink grapefruit, vanilla fig, and lavender. Cranberry pear is also lovely.
posted by fingersandtoes at 2:24 PM on November 10, 2020

The vinegars by Katz are the best America schmancy vinegars, I think. (The Rancho Gordo pineapple is also great, and is their banana vinegar.)
posted by neroli at 2:30 PM on November 10, 2020

I'd recommend my local-ish shop: Olive Oil Pantry for their various vinegars

We've also gotten gifts of vinegars from Navidi's and would also highly recommend.

As a more unusual way to enjoy vinegar, we ended up enjoying adding the flavored white vinegars to saay, a gin and tonic, as a type of "shrub." So that might be good to have on hand.
posted by ellerhodes at 2:39 PM on November 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

I learned about Supreme Vinegar from an Adam Ragusea video. I haven’t tried it but it sounds good.
posted by kevinbelt at 2:48 PM on November 10, 2020

When we lived in Chicago, this was a go-to for both fancy oils and fancy vinegars. So good.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 2:58 PM on November 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

I’ve heard good things about California Balsamic.
posted by FencingGal at 3:05 PM on November 10, 2020

She might also be interested in the book Acid Trip, if she doesn't already have it.
posted by papayaninja at 3:08 PM on November 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

Cough, TJ Max, no really, turns out worth a look. I happened to be in one with a foodie from Italy and they noted that some of the balsamic's were quite high end. (and better price than in Italy)
posted by sammyo at 3:09 PM on November 10, 2020 [2 favorites]

I don't know if they ship, but the Vancouver Olive Oil Company has a great selection of specialty vinegars.

I was in love with their aged balsamic, which they don't carry any more, but they do carry a Denissimo (aged 25+ years) is even better.

Our Denissimo is made from Trebbiano grape must which is naturally caramalized and cooked down to an ever greater extent, and aged for even longer in the traditional "Batteria" of Modena. Our exclusive "Denissimo" contains less than 1% barrel aged Italian red wine vinegar for pro-biotic effect, and slowly ages in five different casks compromised of mulberry, ash, oak, juniper, and cherry wood. This exquisite and exceedingly rare 1.36 density balsamic is extremely complex boasting flavour notes of cherry wood

It's over twice the price of their regular balsamics, though. At $80/ 750ml, that's in the range of a halfway decent single malt.
posted by porpoise at 3:33 PM on November 10, 2020

My S.O. gives me this Olivewood balsamic every year ... well multiple times a year, for every possible occasion, and as a complete vinegar fanatic I'm addicted to it.
posted by nantucket at 3:35 PM on November 10, 2020

Depending on exactly what she likes about vinegar some of these vinegar powders could be fun. They open up the option to add vinegar in places you would not be able to otherwise. Salt and vinegar popcorn has been a big hit in this household.
posted by phil at 3:44 PM on November 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

The Noma Guide to Fermentation would be a great companion gift to this.
posted by rossination at 4:37 PM on November 10, 2020

I promote homemade shrub aka 'drinking vinegar' every chance I get. You can make it in 3-6 days. Basic idea is to macerate equal volumes fresh fruit, sugar, and vinegar (white, apple, malt, mix, whatever). Cover with a towel, store at room temp, stir a few times a day for 2-4 days. At that point strain and bottle in small jars. Should be shelf stable for a year, more if you do 2 parts vinegar.

Mix with seltzer and ice for a delicious old timey beverage or drizzle over ice cream, use anywhere a nice sweet vinegar is called for.
posted by SaltySalticid at 4:39 PM on November 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

If you have one, your local homebrew store may sell you a piece of vinegar mother, the gelatinous blob of microorganisms which will turn your girlfriend's vin into vinaigre.

If you think she'll be into the home-fermentation, you'll want to look into some appropriate glasswhere, or maybe a gift card for someplace that sells the stuff -- or small barrels, which are cheaper than I'd've guessed, last time I looked -- to jump-start the hobby.
posted by Sunburnt at 5:02 PM on November 10, 2020

You might also consider some Asian style vinegars:

Black Rice Vinegar
Pomegranate Vinegar
They have lots of different types of vinegars; I just searched for these two types and they are listed on Amazon.

Sushi Vinegar

Coconut vinegar, some with hot spices make really nice sauce and soup flavorings
posted by effluvia at 5:20 PM on November 10, 2020

Aged sherry vinegar is wonderful; on a par with balsamic in complexity of flavor.
posted by gudrun at 5:31 PM on November 10, 2020

The Strategist had a piece on fancy vinegars a while ago. The Ramp Up vinegars in particular seem intriguing!
posted by MeadowlarkMaude at 6:07 PM on November 10, 2020

Golden Fig is local to St Paul & makes wonderful infused balsamic vinegars. Very drinkable, too, if added to sparkling water or cocktails. Not sure why they can't get the pics on their website in the right orientation, but they are not as amateur as this looks!
posted by Nosey Mrs. Rat at 7:43 PM on November 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

Local San Diego company: Baker & Olive. Everything is amazing.
posted by gryphonlover at 8:23 PM on November 10, 2020

Shrubs are vinegar syrups used to make schmancy cocktails (and mocktails!). they come in a wide variety of flavors and are usually not super-spendy
posted by OHenryPacey at 8:28 PM on November 10, 2020

Drinking vinegars AKA shrubs AKA vinegar cordials are great. As a schmancy vinegar fanatic myself, there's something wonderfully indulgent about drinking my vinegar. Som vinegar cordials are particularly fancy and come in lovely bottles, but you can find many other great brands at farmers markets, local fancy grocery shops, and even sometimes booze shops.
posted by rhiannonstone at 9:10 PM on November 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

I’ve been wanting to try this Forum Chardonnay vinegar ever since I read this chef’s Grubstreet Diary. She described it tasting like clear gummy bears, and damn if that isn't the most intriguing thing I’ve ever heard about vinegar. Schmancy price to go with it, but not too bad if you’re in the market for something unique.
posted by Champagne Supernova at 9:47 PM on November 10, 2020

Nobody has mentioned pomegranate vinegar, which can be used as is or to simultaneously brighten and deepen - "finish" a cooked dish. It adds an incredible complexity to almost any roast or saute, and is great as an addition to salad dressings.
posted by citygirl at 6:33 AM on November 11, 2020

There is a store called Vom Fass that sells specialty vinegars and allows tastings. They aren't everywhere, but check if there is one near-enough to you. It's worth a trip!
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:34 AM on November 11, 2020

Yourmakerdirect has a crazy assortment of really high-end vinegars, the Bordeaux Cherry and the Plum Cardamom look particularly enticing. Also, it supports local makers, which is nice and they ship in the US.

It may be over the top for you, but I was going to get this one for a family member who has a taste for high end oils/vinegars.
posted by Toddles at 3:34 PM on November 11, 2020

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