Choosing the Best Vinegar for Salad

Making a dressing at home is a flavorful yet easy way to elevate your salad. Vinegar is a popular choice for the base of a salad dressing, and you have a plethora of options to choose when it comes to selecting the ideal vinegar. Here is a quick guide to the main types of vinegar to help you select the best vinegar for salad:

Plain white vinegar

This is likely the most affordable vinegar that you will find on the shelf at the grocery store, as it is very cheap to make. While distilled white vinegar is often used for the manufacture of commercial condiments, its strong, pungent taste usually overwhelms other ingredients while home cooking. This vinegar is best used as an all-natural cleaner around the house instead of as a salad dressing.

Red wine vinegar

Sometimes just called red vinegar, this vinegar is a byproduct of fermented red wine. It has a sharp tang and a relatively strong flavor profile, making it a good choice for more robust salads as well as meat marinades. This vinegar will also impart a pink hue to other ingredients, which you may or may not want, so keep that in mind when cooking with it. The flavor of the vinegar can vary depending on what type of red wine is used as the base, so read the fine print on the bottle for more information.

White wine vinegar

Similar to red vinegar, white wine vinegar is also a byproduct of fermented white wine. This vinegar has a much mellower flavor than red wine vinegar and lacks the sharp tang of its sister vinegar. White wine vinegar is best used with more delicate salads and any situation where you want to add a hint of vinegar, but do not want that flavor to overwhelm the dish. This vinegar also has a clear to light yellow tint that usually will not discolor food.

Shop Flavored Vinegars

Balsamic vinegar

Traditional Italian balsamic vinegar is made by leaving pressed grapes in a barrel to age for 12 years until they thicken into a syrupy vinegar with a distinct taste. At Brightland, however, we use a California balsamic technique, fermenting domestic zinfandel grapes for a shorter period of time. We also add locally grown blackberries for a more fruit-forward finish. The resulting balsamic is very versatile and can be used as a salad dressing as well as a marinade for meats and a glaze for fruits. Shop our RAPTURE balsamic vinegar here.

a bottle of brightland balsamic vinegar

Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider is made by fermenting apples and then turning them into vinegar. The apples give the vinegar a lightly sweet yet tangy taste with a fruity undertone. This vinegar is on the lighter end of the spectrum in terms of tang, but will still add that classic vinegar taste to your meal. It works well in salad dressings as well as pickling and marinating.

Champagne vinegar

This extremely light vinegar is made from fermented champagne and has a pale gold or apricot color. It is pretty much the mildest vinegar you can get, making it excellent for delicate salads and for fruit-based dishes. If you are worried about overpowering your dish with vinegar, this is a good option to reach for. Shop our PARASOL champagne vinegar here.

a bottle of brightland champagne vinegar next to a basket of flowers and a cup holding an orange

Sherry vinegar

Sherry vinegar comes from aging fortified wine and then aging it in oak barrels for at least six months. This gives the vinegar a strong, complex taste that is very unique. Because of the heavier taste and texture, this vinegar can be a bit much for a salad, but it works great for making sauces and soups.

Rice vinegar

This vinegar is made by fermenting rice wine and is common in Japanese and Chinese cooking. Because of the rice wine base, it has a slightly sweeter edge to it than the other options on this list. It is an excellent complement to Asian-style salads, sauces and stir fries, and is also a great choice for pickling vegetables.

Black vinegar

This Chinese vinegar is made from glutinous rice and has a deep, woody, smoky flavor. It is usually added to a dish to counterbalance sweeter flavors and is often used in dipping sauces for dumplings. This vinegar is unfortunately not as widely available as the others on this list, and often has to be procured from specialty cooking stores or international markets.

Malt vinegar

The flagship vinegar of the United Kingdom, malt vinegar is made by fermenting barley beer and then aging it briefly. This gives the vinegar a strong, savory, mellow taste, much like beer itself. As a result, this vinegar is a great companion to fish-and-chips, but the flavor may not work well with other dishes.

Looking to add some more punch to your salads? Shop Brightland flavored vinegars today!