In the July issue of Wine Spectator there is an informative editorial about wine vinegar. Matt Kramer gives the mis-treated condiment its full due, he explains that, in fact, there are great wine vinegars and it is no coincidence that they are made by some of the best winemakers. Mr. Kramer names Castello di Volpaia in Tuscany as the maker of the best wine vinegar and he notes that they grow a specific type of grapes for making vinegar. Vinegar master, Giovanella Stianti explains that “you don’t want an alcohol level over 10 percent because that interferes with the bacterial fermentation.” After Ms. Stianti ferments the grape juice with a mother starter and oak and chestnut shavings, she moves the vinegar to age in chestnut and oak vats. The vinegar is then moved to oak barriques where it stays for about a year. No wonder this is a standout favorite for Mr. Kramer, and Chef Tom Colicchio( who names the vinegar in his book Think Like a Chef), it is a labor of love.
So what do you do with a great wine vinegar? You can make an excellent Salsa Verde (parsley, garlic, anchovies in salt, capers, olive oil and white wine vinegar blended like pesto) for meats. Carpione di zucchini is excellent, pan-fried zucchini get a bath of wine vinegar and can be stored in this liquid.
And Mr. Kramer suggests you drink a Dolcetto or a Chianti with your dinner although he says “it’s the vinegar that steals the show”, I would also recommend a Roero Arneis to pair with the carpione di zucchini .
Give it a try, at Piazza we have both the white and red wine vinegars from Castello di Volpaia. Gianni Calogiuri also makes vinegar with care, he grows special grapes for making his vinegar. We carry his vin cotto.