These Artisanal Vinegars Are Worth the Hype

We tasted a bunch of Instagram-famous small-scale vinegars, and they blew our minds.

Published Dec. 16, 2022.

From tangy sourdough bread to fizzy kombucha, fermentation has had the spotlight in recent years, both in professional restaurant kitchens and with home cooks. But on the shelves of specialty food markets and Instagram feeds, vinegar is vying for the latest fermentation fad.

Vinegar is undoubtedly a pantry staple, and we’ve written about which ones belong in every cabinet to cook a wide variety of recipes.

But in the past couple years, we’ve noticed a ton of trendy-looking brands popping up on social media that specialize in artisanal, small-batch vinegars, often in unique flavors, and we wanted to give them a try.

Here are some of our favorites.

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If You Want to Stay Traditional

Gingras Aged Apple Cider VinegarPineapple Collaborative Apple Cider Vinegar

Gingras Aged Apple Cider Vinegar (left) and Pineapple Collaborative Apple Cider Vinegar (right)

Gingras Aged Apple Cider Vinegar

  • All about it: Vinaigrerie Gingras makes their apple cider vinegar using the Orléans method, meaning that they don’t use acetators. Although it’s also unfiltered and unpasteurized, it’s not as funky as an apple cider vinegar like Bragg’s, and it leans more clear and tart, with “almost a savory backbone.” It has a “distinct sharpness and brightness,” but “the acidity dissipates quickly,” and the vinegar “has a floral aftertaste.”
  • How to use it: Let this earthy, fruity cider vinegar’s qualities shine in a vinaigrette.

Pineapple Collaborative Apple Cider Vinegar 

  • All about it: This female-focused brand emphasizes that their vinegar is made from apples grown by Joanne Krueger of Little Apple Treats Orchard using organic Gravenstein, Red Rome Beauty, Golden Delicious, and Pink Pearl apples. Tasters commented that this vinegar was “slightly sweet” yet “a little vegetal,” and “smooth with citrusy, floral and fruity notes.”
  • How to use it: Try this vinegar in a vinaigrette or a cocktail.
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If You Want to Branch Out Just a Bit

Brightland Champagne VinegarBrightland Balsamic Vinegar Fly by Jing 10-Year Aged Black Vinegar

From left to right: Brightland Champagne Vinegar, Brightland Balsamic Vinegar, and Fly by Jing 10-Year Aged Black Vinegar

Brightland Champagne Vinegar and Balsamic Vinegar

  • All About It: Brightland’s vinegars are a little sweeter than those you might be used to, and that’s in part because they make their vinegars with fruit (other than the typical grapes)—their Champagne vinegar uses navel and Valencia oranges and their balsamic uses ripe Triple Crown blackberries. Tasters described the Champagne vinegar as “zesty and almost berry-like” and “very syrupy sweet, with a sharp aftertaste.” One even remarked that “it was like candy.” Tasters described the balsamic vinegar as “sweet and full” with some “chocolate and malt” notes in addition to “tropical fruits,” although it wasn’t as “mouthpuckering as ‘regular’ vinegar.”
  • How to use it: The added fruity sweetness of these vinegars would shine in a dessert or on ice cream, and on salads with savory ingredients such as blue cheese or salted nuts.

Fly by Jing 10-Year Aged Black Vinegar

  • All about it: Fly by Jing describes their 10-year aged black vinegar as in the style of Zhenjiang/Chinkiang vinegar, which we cover in our vinegar review. It’s “boozy and malty on the nose” and tasters found it to be “funky, soy sauce-like.” One found that “its tannic notes are incredibly deep, and the oaky flavour rounds it out beautifully.”
  • How to use it: Use this slightly bitter, toasty vinegar to dip dumplings, season congee, or to contrast crisp, cool smashed cucumbers.

If You Want to Take Your Tastebuds on a Journey

Acid League Roasted Vegetable BalsamicTART Ocean Vinegar

Acid League Roasted Vegetable Balsamic (left) and TART Ocean Vinegar (right)

Acid League Roasted Vegetable Balsamic

  • All about it: Acid League’s Roasted Vegetable Balsamic is made with roasted red pepper, sauteed onion, carrot, and celery. Unsurprisingly, this lends it an intensely savory backbone that one taster compared to the “savory juice at the bottom of a pot of collard greens,” and it “almost tastes like a sauce in its own right, with salty, teriyaki-ish notes.” 
  • How to use it: One taster suggested drizzling this already flavor-packed vinegar over fish or steak.

TART Ocean Vinegar

  • All about it: TART works with Atlantic Holdfast Seafood in Maine to harvest the Kombu, Bladderwrack, and Irish Sea moss for its ocean vinegar. Its “saline,” “sharp,” “fishy,” and “funky” flavors were evident to tasters. 
  • How to use it: TART recommends using their ocean vinegar as a marinade for beans or in vegan paella to add a bit of ocean flavor without the shellfish.
Cabi Foods Sweet Yuzu VinegarAmerican Vinegar Works Honey Wine Vinegar

Cabi Foods Sweet Yuzu Vinegar (left) and American Vinegar Works Honey Wine Vinegar (right)

Cabi Foods Sweet Yuzu Vinegar

  • All about it: This yuzu vinegar has a rice vinegar base that is seasoned with sugar, salt, and yuzu peels. Tasters described it as “salty,” “herbal,” and almost like a “marmalade vinegar.” Its texture was “viscous” and “syrupy.”
  • How to use it: This seasoned citrusy vinegar would be perfect for seasoning rice. Cabi also recommends using it to dress a simple potato with butter.

American Vinegar Works Honey Wine Vinegar 

  • All about it: American Vinegar Works in Worcester, Massachusetts, uses locally sourced alcohol to make their vinegars, and their honey wine vinegar is no exception; the mead comes from Maine Mead Works and the raw honey is harvested by The Best Bees Company in Massachusetts. One taster found it was like “sour candy” and others found it was “vibrant and punchy” with a “lingering bite.”
  • How to use it: This vinegar would be perfect in a mustard vinaigrette or even in a cocktail.

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